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Union members are paid more - new ABS data confirms

December 14, 2022

Australian Bureau of Statistics data from August 2022 has again confirmed that Union Members are paid more than non-members.

Median Earnings by full-time or part-time, state and trade union members in main job, 2004-2022

The median weekly earnings for a full-time union member is $1,719.80, whereas the median weekly earnings for non-members is $203 a week less at $1,516.

This difference in earnings becomes much starker for part time workers. Union membership accounts for a $10 an hour difference in the median hourly wage for part time workers (Union Members $41.70, Non-union $30.50).

Median weekly earnings (FT & PT combined), for Union Members is $1,520 and $1,208 for non-members.

“The data shows that union membership benefits workers. It you're a union member you’ll take home on average $300 per week more than workers who aren’t. This is because union members have access to the leverage and collective support to negotiate decent wages with their employer,” said Dale Beasley, SA Unions Secretary.

22% of non-union members weren't guaranteed minimum hours and 28% had no leave entitlements, but union members had only 11% without a minimum hours guarantee and 7% with no access to paid leave entitlements.

“The growth in casualisation and job insecurity has made it impossible for workers to negotiate fairly with their employers. We’ve seen a decade of wage suppression and a broken bargaining system which has resulted in most workers having little ability to get ahead. Union membership has been the one thing working in worker’s favour during this time,” said Beasley.


Union Membership has declined by 3% since 2016.

The data shows the greatest declines in membership were in the 1980’s to the early 2000’s; clearly that era of great declines in union membership is in our past, and today we’re seeing union growth in many sectors,said Beasley.

“We’re in an era of industrial evolution and the sectors of union membership are evolving as well; the large manufacturing bases of the 1970’s and 1980’s have declined, but today the average union member is a woman in the education, health or service sector, the very sectors growing into the dominant sectors of our economy,” said Beasley.

The new Secure Jobs, Better Pay laws introduced by the Federal Government, will give millions of workers access to collective bargaining, which they haven’t had before. When it is easier for workers to bargain with business, it is clear that wages will rise.

"Workplace bargaining is the most direct and tangible experience most workers have of what unions do on behalf of all working people, we’re confident that that will see more people join their union to get ahead,” said Beasley.