Finance workers have suffered a decline in real income with wages falling back to 2015 levels. Drawing on economic analysis released by the Centre For the Future of Work, the FSU has released a new report titled “Australia We Have a Problem”.

The report outlines the need for a lift in salaries as rising inflation erodes the real wages of all finance workers and highlights the experience of Westpac workers, thousands of whom responded to a survey about the impact of cost of living pressures.

FSU National Secretary Julia Angrisano said Westpac workers deserved a six per cent pay rise to help deal with the increasing cost of living, noting that they had delivered record profits for the bank despite working with fewer resources.

““This report shows our members are hurting – they can’t afford things as basic as medication, school supplies and groceries. While Westpac staff are reporting having to take second jobs, their bosses are boasting about a half yearly profit of over $3 billion dollars. That profit is built on wage suppression and Peter King and his colleagues should be ashamed of themselves.” Ms Angrisano said.

“That’s why we’ve written to Mr King, to ensure he’s aware of just how much his staff are suffering. It’s possible he’s so insulated from the economic realities that our members are facing he simply doesn’t know. We can only hope he responds with empathy.”

Ms Angrisano said that given Westpac has over 40,000 staff and is one the first of the Big Four banks to negotiate pay rises, the outcome of the EA negotiations are likely to affect pay across the finance sector and beyond.

“Westpac and other employers in the sector have been supressing wages for more than a decade but continue to roll out the old chestnut that ‘market rates’ should determine wages outcomes. Wages settings should be determined by productivity, profitability, the inflation rate and the need to make sure ‘real wages’ are maintained.” Ms Angrisano said.

Ms Angrisano said the Report revealed the impact the decline in real wages was having on Westpac staff with increases in cost of living, mortgages and rents and energy and fuel costs hitting family budgets hard.

Westpac staff responded to a survey about pay in the following terms:

“I am stressed out worrying about how I am going to afford new school uniforms and a laptop for my son who is due to start high school next year.”

“I’m struggling to afford mental health medication and therapy with the increase in the cost of pharmaceuticals and specialist doctors. I am worried that given CPI is expected to reach 7%, I will then have to choose between paying my mortgage, purchasing my medication or buying groceries and essentials”

“I cannot afford my daughter’s school uniform and I cut down my loaf of bread portion from Coles”

“I have to take a second job to help support my parents and family”

“I am approaching my fourth year without a pay rise and I am already paid considerably less than my male colleagues.”

Media contact John Hill 0412 197 079

Authorised by Julia Angrisano, National Secretary