Victoria’s Construction Workers Earning Double the National Average

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016
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A new report commissioned by one of Australia’s leading building industry bodies indicates that unionised members of the construction sector in Victoria will soon enjoy extraordinary levels of remuneration compared to the national average.

The report, produced by Deloitte Access Economics on behalf of the Master Builders Association, indicates that entry-level labourers will earn a stunning $151,794 per annum in a year’s time, while carpenters who benefit from enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) will see their salaries rise to $163,825.

These remuneration levels are roughly double those for the average Australian, which according to ABS data from 2015 was approximately $77,900.

Master Builders Association of Victoria CEO Radley de Silva said remuneration levels for unionised construction workers were growing at “unsustainably high rates” and that this would have a negative impact upon the state building sector.

“Victorians should be collectively concerned about these excessive costs being faced in the construction industry,” said de Silva. “This isn’t just a windfall gain being received by union EBA employees, it is a cost borne by the community as a whole.”

According to de Silva, sky-high wages for construction workers could prove to be major impediment for cost-effective infrastructure delivery in Victoria, which could prove to be a serious dilemma for the state given ongoing population gains.

“The combined impact of these wage increases means an increased cost of $806 million to deliver government infrastructure over the next four years,” he said. “With a rapidly growing population in Victoria and around 1,700 new people in this state every week, there is a dire need to build social infrastructure like roads, rail, schools, hospitals and parks.”

de Silva notes that current remuneration for EBA construction workers are amongst the highest for salaried employees  in Australia.

“Union EBA carpenters and entry-level labourers are paid far more than other employees across the economy,” he said. “The updated Deloitte report shows that unskilled labourers are currently earning around $151,000 per year and carpenters around $163,000 per year – more than double the average police officer, fire fighter, soldier, teacher or nurse.

“With rigidities built into the EBA, such as fixed rostered days off timetable, there are further limits on the capacity for wage increases.”

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