Labour bites

Australians need a pay rise

Only one in five Australian workers say they had a pay rise in the past year that covered increases in the cost of living, with almost half reporting no rise at all, according to a new ReachTel poll. The poll suggests that the majority of voters have noticed record low wage growth and rate it a significant political issue.

The poll first asked voters if they were in paid employment and, if yes, had they received a pay rise that was large enough to cover increases in the cost of living in the past 12 months.

Almost half (47.6%) said they had “no pay rise at all”, a further 32.9% said they had “a pay rise but not enough to cover my cost of living”, and 19.5% said they had “a pay rise that covered my costs of living”.

When asked how significant low wage growth was to how they would vote 28.2% said it was “the top issue”, 54% said it was “important but not the top issue”, while 17.9% said it was not important. However, no other single issue was polled for comparison.

Wages in Australia have stagnated, growing 2.1% in the past year, up from a record low of 1.9% the year before. The latest ABS figures showed the cost of living for working households increased by 2.3% in the year ending June 2018.

A survey by law firm Herbert Smith Freehills found that more than half of major employers would like to freeze employees’ wages or offer below-inflation pay rises that are a cut in real terms. (Source: The Guardian)

When 10 days is not 10 days

Australian shift-workers could be eligible for hundreds of hours in unpaid sick leave dating back six years, following a decision from the workplace relations tribunal.

The workplace relations tribunal has found employers following misleading Fair Work Ombudsman advice have been paying staff who miss 12-hour shifts for just 7.2 hours.

The Australian Workers Union believes affected workers could be entitled to hundreds of hours in back pay.

“This is a momentous win for all Australians who work long shifts,” AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton said on Wednesday.

“Ten days leave should mean 10 days leave, and those who happen to work 12-hour shifts should not be disadvantaged.” (Source: SBS)

Canadian academics unite

Postdoctoral fellows and non student researchers at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan have unionised with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) following a secret ballot which saw 88% in favour of unionising.

The academics, researchers and technicians are seeking to improve their conditions of work on campus over the long term. “There has been a dramatic rise in short-term, low paying contract work in academia,” Marianne Jacobsen, who helped spearhead the organising drive, said in a news release.

Jacobsen is a postdoctoral fellow in the biology department. “We are part of a wave of precarious academics and researchers across Canada who are unionising to assert the value of our work and to seek better working conditions as highly educated professionals.”

The workers hope to address issues such as better pay and standardised pay increments, health benefits, workplace representation, and parental leave in negotiations for a first contract with the University of Regina. (Source: Regina Leader-Post)

Doctors to walk out

In the UK junior doctors are considering strike action which threatens fresh chaos for the NHS. Leaders of their union – the British Medical Association – are furious after junior doctors were offered only a 1% pay rise last month.

The BMA’s most senior members – its council – will now decide whether to carry out a formal ballot of up to 55,000 junior doctors.

This would take place within the next six to eight weeks and depending on the result, could give the union a legal right to strike.

Last month the Government offered junior doctors a 1% pay rise as part of a major pay deal for public sector workers. But doctors say this is a pay cut, once cost of living is considered, and described it as a “slap in the face”.

The Department of Health said: “Doctors are the backbone of the NHS and we are committed to ensuring they feel valued and supported. That’s why we have given them their biggest pay rise in 10 years and are taking forward measures to improve staff well-being, development and flexible working”.(Source: The Mail)

Compiled by
John Quessy, Secretary