Sun. May 26th, 2024

As the Fair Work Commission undertakes its annual wage review, the Electrical Trades Union is pushing for apprentices to finally stop missing out on a real wage increase.

Last year, the minimum wage and award minimum rates rose by at least $40 per week. Many apprentices earn far less than the minimum wage and get paid under an Award. But the ETU claims due to a provision in how their wages are calculated, some only received a percentage of the $40.

The ETU wants apprentices who have been receiving less than the $40 pay rise to pocket the difference backdated from July 2022, and to be included in the Fair Work Commission’s looming decision on an increase to the minimum wage this year.

Electrical trades are a growing field in the New England thanks to the Renewable Energy Zone boom. New England Visions 2030 have been calling for New England TAFE campuses to ramp up their training in this area to support more apprentices, including re-introducing training in the area at Armidale TAFE.

The call comes as an ETU commissioned survey of almost 400 electrical apprentices reveals that nearly half have considered quitting – up 10 per cent from 2022. Close to one-third indicate that wages or cost of living are the main reasons.

ETU Acting National Secretary Michael Wright said apprentices deserved a real pay rise, not a pay cut as they endure high inflation.    

“Our nation’s electrical apprentices get paid below the minimum wage and are among the hardest hit by cost of living pressures. They are struggling to even put petrol in the car to get to site, let alone pay for the increased rent and food costs to survive,” Mr Wright said. 

“Many apprentices are pocketing barely half of the minimum $40 rise to weekly pay packets since last year. This must be rectified and backdated, or we risk these apprentices dropping out of the trade forever.

“We call on the Fair Work Commission to step in and help the cost of living crisis for apprentices.” 

“Apprentices and trainees must get the same wage increase that millions of other low-paid workers have been, and will continue to, when the next ruling on minimum wage increases comes into effect.” 

“Almost half of electrical apprentices are considering quitting and the key reason is they don’t get paid enough.”

As demand for sparkies grows, especially here in the New England, the union says the workforce shortage will only widen if apprentices aren’t afforded the bare minimum in wage increases to keep them training and making ends meet. 

“Advancing nation-building infrastructure projects and the clean energy transition is under threat without a future electrical workforce,” Mr Wright said.

“Australia’s electrical apprentices are the backbone of our community and our future economy, but we’re already facing a major skills shortage as it is.”

“The best way to recruit more apprentices and keep them on the books is better wages.”

“The nation can’t afford to lose any more apprentices.”

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