Media Releases

Unions upping wage claims to meet soaring energy costs

March 17, 2023

SA Unions today called on workers across the state to demand higher wage increases to offset the impact of rising energy prices, which will hit struggling households hard.

Household power bills are expected to rise by around 20% in South Australia from July this year, following a draft decision of energy market regulators. The war in Ukraine has led to a spike in gas and coal prices and ageing coal power plants are becoming less reliable, seeing regular occurrences of 'downtime'.

Last month, economic research was released showing that 69% of inflation beyond the RBA target is caused by corporate profits. In the last quarter of 2022, corporate profits were up 10.6%, compared to 2.6% in wages.

SA Unions is calling on businesses to take responsibility for their role in driving the cost of living crisis and withholding wage growth. Dale Beasley, SA Unions Secretary, said that "while businesses have enjoyed record profits for the past decade, workers have been left behind. When wages don't grow, it makes it increasingly difficult for workers to cope with the cost of living and makes these energy prices rises hit even harder."

Beasley reported that unions are already upping their wage claims. "Workers are already struggling to make ends meet, and the rising energy prices will only make things worse. It's inspiring to see workers fight for secure jobs with fair wages that address the true cost of living," he said.

"We're about to see SA's household power bills increase by 20%. Workers are already struggling to keep up with rising costs. South Australia is in a housing crisis and this price hike could see families end up on the streets," he added.

"Now is the time for workers to demand the wages they deserve, fair wage rises that reflect the true cost of living. Workers are not prepared to allow businesses to reap record profits at the expense of workers who are already struggling. It's time for a fair go for all."

"Further investment in a just transition to renewable energy sources is crucial, it'll not only reduce our reliance on fossil fuels but also better insulate us from international energy price spikes," urged Beasley.

Beasley noted that power generation wasn't the only factor affecting energy prices, "when the State Liberal government decided to privatise ETSA, they created a private monopoly. Until we can bring our electricity network back into public hands, the State Government must better regulate SA Power Networks maintenance of the distribution network to ensure households and businesses are not being exploited with costs."