Central Queensland early childhood educator Sara Dunn is among many Australians feeling the pinch of stagnated wages. The issue will be front and centre this Federal Election season with unions pushing for change.
Central Queensland early childhood educator Sara Dunn is among many Australians feeling the pinch of stagnated wages. The issue will be front and centre this Federal Election season with unions pushing for change.

‘Love doesn’t pay the bills’: Workers struggle with low pay

SARA Dunn gets up every day for a job that she loves but one that doesn't pay a minimum wage.

It has been years since she had a pay rise and there are no prospects for one any time soon.

The 34-year-old Central Queensland resident is an early childhood worker and although she spends most of her time looking after, and teaching, other peoples' children - she isn't valued.

Or at least that's how the low pay makes her feel.

"I would earn more stacking shelves at a grocery store," Ms Dunn said.

"(The low pay) makes me feel that I am not a valued member of the community.

"I love my job but love doesn't pay the bills."

Ms Dunn and her fellow early childhood workers are not alone; wage in Australia is at a record low.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show Queensland wages grew by about 2.3% annually while public service rates of pay increased 2.4% compared to 2.3% for the private sector.  

It's an issue that will be front and centre heading into the Federal Election and Central Queensland is ground zero.

The marginal seats of Flynn and Capricornia will be the battle ground where the coming Federal Election is likely to be won, or lost.

The area is being targeted by Australia's unions who are calling for legislative changes to ensure an end to the pay stagnation.

On Thursday, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTUC) will launch a tour in Gladstone to talk to voters about the organisation's campaign Change the Rules, by changing the Federal Government.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus said workers like Ms Dunn deserved better rights and a standardised pay.

"We've had five years of real wages not going up, across the country," Ms McManus said.

"That means people stop spending in local communities and local shops which slows the economy.

"It's hard for individuals and families, but its also a problem for the economy as a whole. We can't create jobs if people aren't spending."

Ms McManus said one of the major issues for workers was that big business had become more powerful as the economy had changed.

"Multinationals are constantly trying to find new ways to drive down wages via insecure work and the use of labour hire companies, for example."

Last month, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told ABC National Radio this Government's plan to deal with slow wage growth was personal and business tax cuts.

Ms McManus disagreed tax cuts were the solution instead calling for a higher minimum wage, the restoration of penalty rates, more collective bargaining instead of individual contracts.

"We (also) need to ensure everyone pays their fair share of tax," she said, referring to large businesses.

 

You're invited

What: Election year kick-off event in Flynn with ACTU Secretary Sally McManus and QCU General

Secretary Ros McLennan

Where: Vallis Lecture Theatre, CQ University, Gladstone Marina Campus, 613 Bryan Jordan Drive,

Gladstone, Qld.

When: Thursday 21 February, 5:45pm