Only one in five Australians received a pay rise big enough to cover their living costs in the past year, a new poll shows.
The ReachTEL survey, commissioned by the Australian Council of Trade Unions released Friday, also found that four out of five workers did not receive a pay rise or endured a real wage cut in the past year.
The survey of 2453 residents across Australia included 36 per cent who said they would vote for the Coalition at the next federal election, while 28 per cent said low wages growth would be the top issue when they voted, and 54 per cent said it would be an important issue.
The poll comes in the same week that ME Bank released its latest twice-yearly Household Financial Comfort Report, which found an increasing number of Australians are dipping into their short-term savings just to pay for basic living costs.
The report found that in the past year, 17 per cent of households could not always pay their utilities bills on time, 19 per cent sought financial help from family or friends and 15 per cent pawned or sold something to buy necessities.
It reported about 48 per cent of people had not received a pay increase in the past 12 months.
The ACTU will use the ReachTEL poll results as ammunition in its ongoing campaign to overhaul workplace laws, including a push for sector-wide bargaining on pay agreements.
“Our system is out of balance. Big business has too much power and employers can just say no to fair pay rises,” ACTU secretary Sally McManus said.
Major employer groups have rejected the ACTU’s agenda, while Workplace Minister Craig Laundy has spoken out against a return to industry-wide bargaining saying it could cripple the economy.
More than 80 per cent of people surveyed said low wages growth, putting pressure on living standards, was an important election matter.
The poll of almost 2500 people also asked about voting intentions ahead of the federal election due by May, with Labor leading the coalition 51-49 on a two-party preferred basis, the same result of the most recent Newspoll.
Unions’ latest push will include collecting stories next week from people who say their wages aren’t keeping up with living costs.
“We are gathering the stories of people – both union members and non-members – who are being hurt by the broken rules that are preventing people winning fair pay rises,” Ms McManus said.