On 1 July, all rates in the industry modern award, the Educational Services (Post-Secondary Education) Award 2010, were increased by 3.3%, in line with the national minimum wage increase.
This increase follows the 2.4% increase granted in 2016, and the 2.9% increase granted in 2015, which means that the minimum award rates have kept pace with (and at times exceeded) the average increases across the broader economy.
It has been widely publicised in recent months that Australia (in common with most western countries) has been undergoing a prolonged wages drought. The Wages Price Index (the measure used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to quantify salary growth) increased in the June quarter by just 1.9%, and the March quarter returned an identical figure, so it is clear that wages in general are not going to increase by much more than that any time soon.
For employees on enterprise agreements, however, there is some scope to achieve increases in excess of the WPI increases. The IEU has negotiated around 20 enterprise agreements across the post college sector, and we have been able to achieve salary increases of higher than 2% per annum, though the general low wage environment does create significant headwinds.
This long term flat lining of wages has significant effects, both for workers, who have to manage increasing costs on flat or declining wages, for businesses, who need to compete in an environment where consumers have less money to spend, and for the economy as a whole, as government budgets take a hit on tax receipts. Clearly, things need to change.