Carpenters, plumbers, bricklayers, metalworkers, chefs and other qualified tradespeople could face a pay cut of almost $100 a week under Government plans to collapse award rates of pay into a single US-style minimum wage.

Responding to the national skills crisis and Federal Cabinet consideration of
radical changes to Australia’s award wages system, ACTU Secretary Greg
Combet said:

“The Employment Minister and the Treasurer have both said they want to
collapse the existing ladder of skill-based award wage levels down into one
single US or UK style minimum wage.

Under the Government’s plan a qualified tradesperson would face pay
cuts of more than $93 a week.

Their pay could go down from the current legal minimum ‘trades
rate’ of $14.77 an hour to the minimum wage of just $12.30 an hour. This
is a ridiculous proposal at a time when the Prime Minister is urging young
people to consider a career in the trades.

You don’t get more people into the trades by cutting the wages of
tradespeople — yet this is exactly what the Government is proposing to

Lowering the wages of tradespeople is a very short-sighted move that would
worsen the national skills crisis and further damage the economy. The ACTU has
identified a shortage of 25,000 skilled workers and the lack of qualified
tradespeople is stopping major new building and mining projects.

The Australian system of award wages is unique in that it recognises and
rewards skill and career development. The present system of skill-based award
wage rates was set up so that there are incentives for employees to undergo
training, upgrade their qualifications and have a career path. In the current
skills crisis the last thing the Government should be suggesting is to scrap
award rates and replace them with a one size fits all minimum wage.

ABS data shows there are 1.6 million people that rely on award rates of pay
that would be affected by the Government’s plans. Many Australian families
rely on award conditions to maintain and improve their living standards. If the
Government takes that away then people’s living standards will suffer.

Stripping skilled workers of their pay and conditions will hurt families and
hurt the economy.”

Weekly award wages
Award wage for trades people (C10):
Includes chefs, carpenters,
printers, plasterers, metalworkers, bricklayers, boilermakers, hairdressers, and
qualified childcare workers
Federal minimum wage (C14)
Proposed Govt pay cut for tradespeople