Australia’s 1.7 million award workers received a lower pay rise last year than any other employees in the economy, according to a new analysis by the ACTU.

The research showed low-paid workers were falling further behind the rest of the community, ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said today.

“It’s extraordinarily unfair that the lowest paid workers in our community should get a lower pay rise than everyone else. People earning $11 or $12 an hour need and deserve a significant pay rise this year, or more working families will be in poverty,” Mr Combet said.

The research shows the average wage increase for award workers last year was 2.5% compared to the 4.6% rise in Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) as measured by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Senior Managers received the highest average percentage increase in base rates of 5%.

The ACTU will use the analysis in its Living Wage Case submission to be lodged with the Australian Industrial Relations Commission on Friday. The claim will seek a $25 a week pay rise for award workers.

“Half of the 1.7 million employees who depend on award wages for their livelihoods are earning less than $13 per hour, or $500 a week. Many of them are women struggling to support families through work in the hospitality, retail, cleaning, childcare and clothing trades,” Mr Combet said.

Under the claim, award rates would rise by $25 to bring the Federal Minimum Wage to $438.40 per week ($11.54 per hour).

“Despite John Howard’s promise that no-one would be worse off under his Government, low-paid workers have been dudded by inadequate wage increases and GST price rises. If the Federal Government is concerned about a fair go for working families, then it should support the unions’ Living Wage claim.”