The jobs targeted for a pay rise are to initiate collective bargaining in bold union plans

Wage bargaining changes proposed by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) could signal a pay rise for millions of Australians working in the care and service sectors.

The union council will present its plan to simplify the “confusing” negotiation process at next week’s Jobs and Skills Summit.

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ACTU’s push hopes to overhaul the wage bargaining system to allow entire sectors to band together to secure wage increases and better conditions.

Company bargaining is currently workplace-to-workplace, but the union body hopes this can be changed to sector-by-sector bargaining.

This would increase the currently low “bargaining power” of small farms by “allowing multiple farms to come to an agreement together”.

This would largely affect workers in, for example, elder care and childcare in companies whose workforces are too small to effectively push for wage increases.

“We have had a system based on corporate negotiation as the only real option for 30 years,” ACTU said in a statement.

Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers said working Australians have been going backwards under the current corporate pay system while companies have posted big gains.

Lunch break for seniors in nursing home Recognition: Jasmine Merdan/Getty Images

The union plan would result in huge changes in several sectors, according to ACTU secretary Sally McManus.

“We have a lot of small jobs in the care sector and in the service sector that are just missing out right now,” she told Sunrise.

“It’s just too hard to get a raise if you boil it down, that’s the big problem.

“Workers don’t have the bargaining power they need to reach an agreement, it just means they get base wage increases.

“We’ve had wages … actually falling for 10 years and we need to reverse that or we’re going to have lower living standards.”

Recently released data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics for the June quarter showed that pay packages lagged behind the rising cost of living.

“Without modernizing our wage bargaining system, real wages will not increase,” McManus said.

Elderly care, childcare and the service sector

The care and service sectors, also affected by labor shortages, will be given the spotlight at the Jobs and Skills Summit.

“You’re thinking of a daycare center, there might only be five of you there. It’s ridiculous to think that these five childcare workers can raise wages for themselves and for others,” McManus told Sunrise.

“So it just makes sense that these workers should be able to, for example, band together, meet with employers from across the sector and say, ‘Well, let’s reach an agreement on how childcare workers should be paid’ .”

Last Friday, the Australian Services Union announced that minimum-wage community and disability workers would receive a pay rise of 5.2 per cent, the biggest pay rise in 16 years.

But McManus says many smaller organizations in certain sectors are not currently negotiating pay rises.

“You should have the same practical negotiation skills as everyone else,” she told Sunrise.

This is just one of the topics to be discussed at the two-day Jobs and Skills Summit, which will look at skills shortages, sluggish wage growth, skilled migration and how to keep unemployment low.

The summit was a campaign pledge by the Albanian government, which has invited companies, unions and government officials to look into the future of the Australian workforce.

The Prime Minister last week released a list of the top 10 jobs expected to be in high demand over the next five years in preparation for the event, which comes amid “a serious labor shortage”.

– With AAP

Albo drinks beer at the Gang of Youths concert.

Albo drinks beer at the Gang of Youths concert.–c-7999400 The jobs targeted for a pay rise are to initiate collective bargaining in bold union plans

James Brien

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