Have your voice heard
By Chris Gazenbeek,
SDA State Secretary
The next few months will be crucial for Australians – as we head to the polls. It’s important to know that in addition to the work of the SDA for our members and the work of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) for all workers in Australia, Governments also have a significant impact on worker entitlements.
There are several important issues that SDA members should carefully consider before the election in May.
The majority of our members receive the wage increases awarded by the Fair Work Commission each year in the Annual Wage Review.
Our members are hurting with the cost of living pressures and need a significant wage increase this year, and we need it on time, not delayed. It must be given on 1 July to all our members.
The Commission has a high regard for the Federal Government’s view in the Annual Wage Review. It is influential.
Last year, the Federal Government refused to nominate a figure for the wage increase. They urged the Commission to take a ‘cautious approach’. It stressed that higher labour costs could present a problem for small business and ‘dampen employment’.
In effect, the Federal Government’s submission supported those employers arguing for a lower wage increase or none at all.
The effect of that was a wage increase for Australian workers which turned out to be less than inflation.
The big question is – what will the Federal Government argue for in the Commission this year? Will it argue for a significant wage increase to help with the cost of living pressure?
The actions of the next Federal Government to be elected in May will help determine your wages for the next three years.
Another issue of concern for our members is their superannuation retirement benefits.
Employer superannuation contributions should already be 12% but are only at 10%. The Liberal Federal Government has constantly delayed the increases over many years. A number of Liberal members in the Federal Government are arguing to stop the increase to 12%. Some are even arguing that there should be NO compulsory employer superannuation contributions for employees.
The figure of 12%-15% employer superannuation contribution is regarded as the minimum necessary to ensure workers have a decent superannuation amount for retirement.
Again, the actions of the next Federal Government to be elected in May will help determine whether or not your employer will be required to increase the employer superannuation contribution to 12%.
There are other industrial relations matters of a more technical nature which will affect worker entitlements in the years ahead.
The ALP is committed to making changes to industrial relations laws if it is elected as the Federal Government which will be fairer for workers and more balanced. We support the changes as being in the best interests of our members.
We are lucky to live in a democracy where our members are free to vote for the party of their choice.
We also see it as our responsibility to highlight key industrial relations issues for you which may be affected by the actions of the next Federal Government.
It should come as no surprise to long term members that the SDA, as your Union, will always concentrate on the core issues which affect our members. Whether it is wages, occupational superannuation or underpayments, my commitment to our total membership is to continue to work on the real issues which affect our members’ lives.