West Workers Worst Off - UnionsWA

West Workers Worst Off

Today in Perth UnionsWA presented evidence to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee in its Inquiry into the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill 2023. Comments below are from UnionsWA Secretary Owen Whittle regarding the rising costs of living in WA and how this leaves working families here particularly exposed by workplace laws biased in favour of employers and low-pay outcomes.

Owen Whittle, UnionsWA Secretary said:

“Between 2020 and 2023 real wages in WA have declined 9.7%.

“But for low paid and casual workers declining real wages are an even more serious problem when faced with particularly steep increases in housing and other unavoidable cost of living increases.

“Based on typical real estate rental data, Anglicare found that Perth rents increase 30.2% between 2020 and 2023.

“The ABS in the year to June 2022 found national rent increases went up by 1.6% and by 6.7% in the year to June 2023.

“When workplace laws are biased in favour of employers and low-pay rise outcomes, working families in WA suffer the most because our costs of living increases are so high and rising.

“Applying data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, an analysis by UnionsWA shows that over the past three years the pay of worker on a typical income in WA who had an average pay increase, has still gone backwards in real terms by $6,294 a year.

“The comparable decline in real wages nationally is a decline of $5,615 a year.

“When costs increase by that amount without pay keeping pace, that means financial hardship for families, pressure on relationships and other impacts such as poor mental health.

“The lack of an objective test about whether a worker should be a casual or permanent employee exacerbates this pressure. Despite the casual loading, across the board casual workers are paid between $3.55 and $3.88 an hour less then permanently employed workers with comparable skills.

“In the meantime, some of the richest business corporations in Australia are complaining about having to pay fair wage increases.

“It’s just not good enough.”

Further information

Median weekly earnings for employees (total)



2023 (if keeps up WPI)

2023 (if keeps up CPI)

Real Wage Difference

WA $




-        121.04

Aus $




-        108.00


Annual Median earnings for employees (total)



2023 (if keeps up WPI)

2023 (if keeps up CPI)

Real Wage Difference

WA $




-    6,294.17

Aus $




-    5,615.94

Source: Table 2: https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/earnings-and-working-conditions/employee-earnings/aug-2022 


Anglicare Rent increase sources

According to the Anglicare Rental snapshot – this is what you are looking at for median Perth rents.







Perth Metro Median Weekly Rents $





% Change YoY





% Change 2021-2023



2023: https://www.anglicarewa.org.au/docs/default-source/advocacy/anglicare-wa-rental-affordability-snapshot-2023_final.pdf

2022: https://www.anglicarewa.org.au/docs/default-source/advocacy/anglicare-wa-rental-affordability-snapshot-2022.pdf?sfvrsn=de77d2cf_8

2020-2021: https://www.anglicarewa.org.au/docs/default-source/advocacy/anglicare-wa---rental-afforability-snapshot-2021.pdf?sfvrsn=dba8e99b_6

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