Stronger wages growth from enterprise agreements, strongest from unions

by Greg Jericho

The latest wage rises from enterprise agreements show good improvement, but overall, workers continue to see their wages lag behind inflation

The latest fortnightly figures of enterprise agreements lodged with the Fair Work Commission show a pleasing increase in annual average wages.

In the two weeks to the 7th and the 21st of October, the average annual wage growth of enterprise agreements lodged with the FWC was 3.6% and 3.5%. This is the first time there have been 2 consecutive periods of average annual growth of wages above 3.5% since the FWC began publishing the data in July.

While this is a sign that wages are improving for workers, when we weight the average wage growth of all enterprise agreements since July by number of employees covered, the overall average is just 3.1%. This in line with the September wage price index.

That even 3.6% or 3.5% is more than half the current inflation rate of 7.3% highlights the massive fall in real wages experienced by workers across the nation. The latest average wage growth of 3.5% covered some 16,294 employees, but in September one fortnight saw an average wage rise of just 2.4% across 26,449 employees.

The latest figures again demonstrate the benefits of joining a union. Even though just 300 employees were covered by a union negotiated agreement lodged in the fortnight to 21 October, the average wage rise of 3.6% was above the average of the non-union lodged agreements.

The weighted average of all agreements lodged by unions since July is 3.8%, well above the 3.1% average of non-union lodged agreements.

While improving, wage growth remains well below inflation, and the FWC data shows the continual need for the govenment’s IR bill to pass as well as the ongoing advantage of being in a union.

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