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Crucial rise to the minimum wage

The National Minimum Wage will increase to $23.23 per hour from 1 July 2023. For casual employees, the new minimum will be $29.04 per hour.

For workers paid the National Minimum Wage - workers not covered by an award or agreement - this is an 8.6% pay rise.

Workers on Award wages will get a 5.75% pay rise, the biggest in over a decade.

The minimum full-time weekly wage rises to $882.80 representing an extra $70.20 a week for workers struggling most with the cost-of-living crisis.

How did this happen?

The Fair Work Commission reviews and sets minimum wages for employees in the national system each year, after research, consultation, and submissions from business groups, the Government, unions and welfare groups. 

Workers who are members of unions have effectively funded the case for a wage increase for the lowest paid workers. Our unions have been arguing the need for a significant rise to the minimum wage for over a decade, in the face of ruthless opposition from big business and their employer lobby groups. Critically, unions and social welfare groups were also up against a conservative government ideologically opposed to wage increases until the defeat of the Morrison Government last year. Yep - politics is important.

It's also worth pointing out that the Government gets to choose the people who sit on the Fair Work Commission and make the final determination about the minimum wage. Conservative Governments have stacked the commission with employer reps, but the Albanese Government is beginning to change that - so we hope to see fairer minimum wage rises being awarded in the future too!

So while business groups called for a real wage cut of up to $1350 per year for full-time workers on minimum wages (despite record corporate profits), the commission was persuaded that, as unions argued, a significant minimum wage increase was essential to preserving the ability of award-reliant employees to meet their basic financial needs. 

Check your pay if you are on the minimum or Award wages

As soon as you get your payslip for the first pay period starting on or after 1 July 2023, check to make sure the increase has been included in your wages.

If it’s not there, your employer may be stealing your wages.

You should get in touch with your union if the numbers don’t look right.

Young workers in Victoria can also contact the Young Workers Centre for help and advice. If you are a worker on a visa, you can also contact the Migrant Workers Centre. 

OK, but I still can't afford rent?

While this year's wage rise decision was a significant improvement on previous years', ultimately minimum wages are still lagging behind cost of living increases.

But you can win better pay - for you and your workmates - by joining together in union to bring your boss to the bargaining table and argue collectively for higher pay and better conditions. 

It really works - union members on average earn 26% more.

The best part is, you're not only benefiting the workers in your workplace, but you're contributing to a nationwide movement to win fairness for workers everywhere through collective efforts like the national minimum wage push. Ultimately being union is about being part of the movement for a more equal society where everyone's work is valued.

Take the first step towards meaningful pay rises today and join your union.

by Wallace Huang

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