Unions seek pay hikes to cover carbon tax

Unions who championed the carbon tax are now seeking wage rights to compensate workers for higher living costs.

Together Union – a Queensland-based union for administrative and clerical employees – will factor in the cost of the carbon tax during enterprise bargaining negotiations with the Queensland government this year, claiming it is one contributor to the increasing cost of living.

Union secretary Alex Scott says the Federal Government’s $8 billion household compensation package would not offset the cost of the carbon tax for all workers from July 1.

Dean Mighell, Victorian State Secretary for the Electrical Trades Union, says his organisation will also be lobbying for increased wages for its members and will include calculations as to the impact of the carbon tax in this negotiation.

“If costs of living go up then we want working people’s interests to be protected,” Mighell told SmartCompany.

Mighell says campaigning for wage rises in line with increased cost of living is nothing new for the unions.

“We have been doing it for 150 years and we are not going to stop now.

“We tend to look at the overall consumer price index (CPI) and look at the impact it has on CPI.

“It will go up fractionally as a result of carbon tax but energy and water price increases are more of a concern.”

Mighell says in contrast to the Together Union, the ETU did not back the implementation of the carbon tax.

“We took exception to the carbon tax because when it was introduced there was not a jobs or industry plan that went with it.

“We think that there needs to be a specific jobs plan for when the introduction occurs.”

Despite the union claims that the carbon tax will increase living costs, Tristan Edis, editor of Carbon Spectator and Fellow at the Grattan Institute believes any impact will be minimal.

“The carbon price will have a negligible effect on food prices now that agricultural emissions are out for good,” he says.

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