The AMWU has pledged to continue fighting for increased wages for workers, calling for an increase to the Graphic Arts Award, which it says rural and regional printers are struggling to live on.
Level one workers above 21 years of age on the Graphic Arts Award currently earn the absolute minimum wage in Australia, which sits at $18.93 per hour, or $719.20 for a 38-hour working week.
Employees on the Fast Food Industry Award have a higher rate of pay at level one, earning $20.79 per hour, or $789.90 per week.
There are eight levels to the Graphic Arts Award, with those on the top tier earning less than $6 extra per hour. These employees are entitled to a minimum pay rate of $24.04 per hour, or $913.70 per week.
Lorraine Cassin, Print Secretary, AMWU, says, “The election outcome was very disappointing for workers across Australia, including print workers. Print workers around the country got active in the Change the Rules campaign because they are sick of insecure work, casualisation, and low wages.
“We, along with the rest of the union movement, will keep up the fight for a living wage because minimum wages, including those set out by the Graphic Arts Award are too low. Many print workers, especially in regional and rural areas, are dependent on the Award, and they consistently tell us that they are struggling to make ends meet on their current wages.”
For Junior Employees, the rates are far lower, with those under 16 able to be employed for as little as $5.84 per hour, or $7.20 if they are casual employees. The rate for permanent employees then rises to $7.49 for 16 year olds, $9.74 at 17, $11.68 at 18, $14.68 at 19, and $17.52 aged 20.
The industry is currently struggling to attract and retain young people, while their peers working under the Fast Food Award start at $8.31 per hour under the age of 16, or $10.39 if they are employed as casuals.
By age 17 Fast Food Employees make $12.47 per hour, or $15.59 as casuals. As a direct comparison, it should be noted that many of the big multinational fast food companies employ young people on seperately negotiated agreements that give lower wages than the Award.
Junior Apprentices under the Graphic Arts Award fare better, with first years awarded $11.02, which then rises each year, first to $13.22, then $15.98, reaching $19.28 in the fourth year.
Cassin says, “The AMWU will work with industry to fight for the future of the Australian print and packaging sector, and we will hold Morrison and his Government to account for the promises they made on apprenticeships and TAFE during the campaign.
“Scott Morrison and his colleagues voted eight times against reversing the Fair Work Commission’s cuts to penalty rates, so unfortunately we do not expect a great deal of support for our campaign for wage increases from the Government. Scott Morrison and the Liberals remain committed to “trickle down” economics, despite all the evidence against it.
“The return of the Liberal Government does not spell the end of our campaigns for secure jobs and decent wages for workers. The Change the Rules campaign got an unprecedented number of union members active in their workplaces and their communities and we will work with them to fight for better wages, safer workplaces, and more secure jobs.
“The Liberal Government under a previous leader also tried to abolish parallel import restrictions, which would have been a disaster for the Australian print and publishing industry.”
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