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Melbourne Construction workers among highest-paid in world

July 18, 2022

News that Melbourne construction workers are among the highest paid in the world should be worn as a badge of honour by AWU members, Victorian Branch Secretary Ben Davis says.

A new international construction sector survey by consultants Turner & Townsend assessed labour-market conditions in 88 markets around the globe and put the average hourly wage across the sector in Melbourne at $124 – the seventh highest in the world.

Perth construction workers came in tenth place, earning an average $118.15 per hour.

The pay rates, which are beaten only by four US and two Swiss cities, are higher than other Australian capitals.

Mr Davis said the industrial landscape in Victorian naturally meant Melbourne workers usually earned more than their interstate counterparts.

“It’s no surprise that wage rates are higher in Victoria because it’s a solid, unionised state,” he said.

“Unions such as the AWU make you stronger and there’s a history here of assertive, successful action and bargaining by our members.

“And we make no apologies for continuing to fight for fair and reasonable pay increases for our members as they face the current soaring cost of living.”

The report noted Covid-19 had wreaked havoc across the construction sector, with skills shortages contributing to the rise in labour costs.

Across Australia and New Zealand there has been a 6.5 per cent rise in labour costs over the past 12 months, but a whopping 28 per cent jump since 2019.

But while Melbourne’s construction sector wages far outstrip Sydney’s and Perth’s, the report found the overall cost of building in Victoria is actually less.

“That puts the lie to claims by some senior figures in the construction industry who complain that simply paying Victorian workers what they are worth is making major infrastructure projects too expensive,” Mr Davis said.

“The AWU will continue to work for its members for better pay and conditions.

“And that fact that our members are being paid more is something every AWU member should wear as a badge of honour.”

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