April 30, 2019 Change the Rules News


Each year, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) conducts its Annual Wage Review. This review forms a key part of lifting wages for retail and fast food workers. Once the FWC conducts its review, the resultant wage increase usually applies from the first pay period on or after 1 July.

This review is particularly important for SDA members because many Enterprise Agreement pay rises are linked to the outcome of the Annual Wage Review.

How are pay rates set in Australia?

The Minimum Wage is the minimum amount any Australian worker can earn. The union movement, through the advocacy of the ACTU, presents argument to the FWC outlining the reasons why Australian Award-based workers deserve a wage increase. In the 2019 submission, the ACTU argued for a 6% wage increase. On the other hand, employer organisations argued that such workers should receive anything between 0% and 2.3%. The Fair Work Commission will make their determination and the decision will be somewhere between 0% and 6%.
Pay rates can also be negotiated through Enterprise Bargaining. This occurs when the SDA negotiates directly with the individual employer such as Woolworths or Coles supermarkets. In such negotiations, the Agreement must meet the Better Off Overall Test; that is, it must be better than the Award.

A Living Wage

The SDA strongly supports the ACTU’s submission to raise wages each year. The ACTU’s submission looks at:

  • what is fair and reasonable;
  • what’s happening with the Australian economy;
  • whether workers are receiving their fair share; and
  • what workers are experiencing in their everyday lives.

And each and every year, employer organisations make submissions arguing for a minimal increase or sometimes no increase at all.

Re-balancing is needed

Australia has one of the best minimum wages in the world but the reality is that wages have struggled to keep up with the cost of living. Raising the minimum wage is an important key in curbing inequality and maintaining the fair Australian way of life.

It is important to note that pay rises are not given; they are won by unions like the SDA. Yes, it does pay to be an SDA member.