Pay Rises in Agreements Remain Subdued

Trends in Federal Enterprise Bargaining, June Quarter 2015, Department of Employment, released October 2015

The federal Department of Employment has issued its latest Trends in Bargaining data which confirms anecdotal evidence that wage rises in enterprise agreements remain at or near historic lows.

Wage rises in the private sector were on average 3.1% in the March Quarter 2015, up slightly from 3.0% in the previous quarter. The public sector continued to outpace private sector wage rises, with average rises there running at 3.9%.

However also of interest was the low number of agreements approved by the Fair Work Commission from which these statistics derive. In that three month period 1,152 agreements were approved whereas over the last six years, the quarterly average has been over 1,700 agreements.

Practitioners attribute the slowing of agreement-making to the scope of potential changes to modern awards arising from the many and complex proceedings being undertaken in the four yearly review process currently underway and the inability to acheive quantifiable productivity offsets under the current bargaining requirements.