The median weekly earnings for employees was $950 at August 2013, down two per cent from 2012 when inflation is taken into account, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reports. This was the first year-to-year decrease since 2008. Between 2011 and 2012 median weekly earnings for Australians actually increased three per cent.
The ABS survey collected the distribution of weekly earnings of employees, their entitlement to paid leave and trade union membership. According to ABS Director of Labour Force and Supplementary Surveys, Manpreet Singh, union members are more likely to have access to benefits.
"Of employees without paid leave entitlements in their main job, 6 per cent were trade union members, compared to 22 per cent for employees with paid leave entitlements,” he said.
However the survey found just 17 per cent (1.7 million employees) were trade union members, the lowest unionised workforce in the 22-year history of the series, which follows a general decline in union membership over recent years.
Tony Sheldon, secretary of the Transport Workers Union, voiced his concerns about this decline to news.com.au. The decline has been greater among younger Australians, who he said were more vulnerable and at risk of being employed casually.