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Annual Wage Review: what should this year's increase be?

Updated: Jan 21, 2023

The Annual Wage Review (AWR) now underway ( ) is the single most important decision that affects the living standards of low-income workers (a very big part of our working class) in Australia. Of course, the rules that govern the setting of low wages are stacked in favour of the employers. Above all, they entrench the denial of collective bargaining rights to low-paid workers.

Nevertheless, the outcome has flow-on effects, potentially positive, for middle-income workers and for wages in enterprise agreements.

There are also flow-on effects for the aged and disabled pensions.

The ACTU always makes a submission on behalf of the whole working class about what the increase should be.

The deadline for first submissions is March 31st.

This year’s review is also a big deal for working women because it will be the first in which the “need to achieve gender equality” will be a “factor for the Commission to consider when setting minimum wages.” (

Every union centre

  • should provide every member with updates on the progress of the AWR.

  • should ask each of its members to share and discuss each update with other members and potential members.

  • could engage members in making the decision about what the union’s claim should be. This is required in the first instance by March 31st.

  • should state its own view on what the ACTU claim should be: 1) above what is required to catch up to the rising cost of living? 2) maintain low-income wages relative to the cost of living? 3) allow a further decline in wages relative to the cost of living?

If these things are not happening, should union members accept that rising inequality in Australia in a fair dinkum way requires? building union-wide and working-class solidarity in defiance of those who will push for a weak AWR outcome.

It can be done so that joining a union and being active will be an exciting and life-changing experience.

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1 Comment

Mike Ballard
Mike Ballard
Jan 21, 2023

It should be obvious to all workers that if they don't get an 8.7% wage increase, they'll be settling for a pay cut even though the amount of wealth they produce continue to grow.

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