2021 NatRoad Conference

ACTU Pushing for Unrealistic 3.5% Minimum Wage Increase

Wage Calculation

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) in its submission to this year’s minimum wage review is seeking a 3.5% increase across all award rates, including the Transport Awards. The ACTU argues maintaining pay growth is crucial for post-pandemic economic recovery. The claim is $26.38 a week for a full-time worker on the national minimum wage, which would rise from $753.80 ($19.84 an hour) to $780.18 ($20.53 an hour).

A 3.5% increase is $30.24 per week for a local driver of a single articulated vehicle (GCM >22.4t) and $31.57 per week for a local driver of a B-Double (Road Transport and Distribution Award 2020).

The ACTU last year sought a 4% increase, but the Fair Work Commission’s minimum wage panel settled on 1.75% in recognition of the effects of the pandemic.

The ACTU describes last year’s 1.75% minimum wage increase as “very low” and made worse by delaying rises for workers in some sectors to as late as February this year (the Transport Awards increased from 1 November 2020: see below).

NatRoad supports the Federal Government’s submission in urging the Commission to take a cautious approach given the current uncertainties in the domestic and international economic outlook, and to consider the importance of ensuring small businesses remain viable.

NatRoad’s view is that the minimum wage increase should be discounted to take into account the rise in the superannuation guarantee from 9.5% to 10% due from 1 July 2021.

Members may recall last year that the Fair Work Commission’s minimum wage panel decided that due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and government efforts to prevent the spread of the virus there were exceptional circumstances to justify deferring the wage increases in certain industries. As a result, the 1.75% increase to the minimum rates in the two road transport awards and the clerks award were delayed to 1 November 2020 rather than applying from 1 July 2020 as is usually the case.

NatRoad will update members when the decision of the Commission on minimum and Award wages is handed down.


NatRoad communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Our advisors are available to clarify any questions you have and provide the right advice for your business and workforce. Contact David at david.johns@natroad.com.au or Richard at richard.calver@natroad.com.au, or on (02) 6295 3000.