Present tense:

Awards and updates

Award increases coming

The Fair Work Commission is currently undertaking its annual national wage case, which will adjust the national minimum wage, and with it, all award rates, including those in the Educational Services (Post-Secondary Education) Award 2010.

The current minimum wage is around $695 per week for a full time employee, or about $36,000 per annum. Staff employed under the Post-Secondary award are paid at higher rates than this, but mostly still at or below the median average income in NSW (which is around $60,000). Members reliant on award wages will know that award rates do not amount to much for workers trying to get by in Sydney.

The ACTU, in its submission, has called for a significant increase to the minimum wage of around $50 per week, which equates to 7.2% per annum. ACTU Secretary Sally McManus notes that many employees reliant on the minimum wage work in the hospitality and retail sectors, where cuts to penalty rates will take place from 1 July.

McManus, and this column, has long argued that wage growth generally is far too low in Australia. The Wages Prices Index came in at 2.1% per annum in the most recent survey in early May – we are now well into our third year where wages growth has stalled around the 2% mark – so there is no doubt there is truth to the ACTU’s position.

Employer groups, by contrast, have made the same old tired arguments about increases, arguing that such rises would “kill jobs and investment”, and that the ACTU is “out of touch”. The Australian Industry Group (AIG) has proposed a 1.8% increase. Seems that there is never a good time to have wage increases for the AIG.

In fact, a recent study by the Reserve Bank (no raging Lefties there), suggests that increases in minimum pay rates has no effect of job numbers, or on hours of work. Indeed, it found that awards that had larger pay increases had more substantial increases in hours worked than was the case with awards with smaller pay increases.


The FWC has approved a 3.5% increase to take effect from 1 July. Details will be provided in the next edition of Newsmonth.

Agreement update

Your Union continues the work of bargaining for new agreements in the post-secondary college sector, and negotiations have recent commenced at both Navitas English, and also at EF International Colleges.

The negotiations at NE are taking place in the shadow of significant redundancies in 2017 (following the loss to NE of a significant number of government contracts), but nevertheless, your Union is seeking improvements in areas such as salary, leave, hours of work, and job security. At EF, your Union is also seeking improvements in these areas.

Enterprise agreements typically provide for much better salaries and conditions than apply via the award. The Fair Work Act contains provisions which can make employers bargain for an agreement – to find out how this might work at your workplace, contact your Union, the IEU.

Kendall Warren