Union tradies pocket an extra $10 per hour in pay deal

Jarrod Brown
By Jarrod Brown
5 Min Read

Queensland’s premier has brokered a deal with construction unions for a pay rise of more than $10 an hour over the next four years and an extra $1,000 a week to work away from home.

These increases promise to boost the pay packets of workers across the industry, seeing 700-plus-tonne crane operator’s pay rise to $2394 a week and fourth-year adult electrical apprentices to about $44 per hour or $1585 a week.

Skilled labourers will also see their wages increase by $10 an hour over the agreement, from $47.63 to $57.89. By 2027, they’ll be paid $2,084 a week.

Carpenters and other qualified tradespeople will be paid nearly $1,948 a week, with that number jumping to $2,351 a week, $54.12 an hour, to $65.78 by 2027. 

The deal comes courtesy of Queensland’s Premier Steven Miles, who has spent the last week in press tours backing his decision to bump up construction wages over other professions like teaching and nursing in the latest rendition of the states’ Best Practice Industry Conditions (BPIC) agreement. 

“Government should be an employer of choice, and working on our projects should be one of the best jobs you can get,” Miles said on Tuesday.

“We are paying what it costs to get the workers to deliver the projects that Queensland needs.”

The investment in Queensland tradies comes as the state’s construction industry gears up to tackle a variety of projects across the next decade, ranging from Olympic infrastructure to green energy projects.

But NSW Master Builders Association executive director Brian Seidler noted that the impressive deal did not guarantee increased productivity for a construction industry already plagued by labour shortages. 

“The sad thing about it is that we have no productivity gain whatsoever,” he told A Current Affair earlier this week.

“Nothing has been measured. In fact, I don’t think governments have asked for any productivity offsets.”

Reaping the benefits

Stacked on top of the locked-in wage increases are the myriad loading and allowance payments, such as 300 per cent loading for working on and between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day or Good Friday and Easter Monday.

Tradies travelling to work will see a “living away from home” allowance, with the BPIC stating a “distant construction sites allowance of $1,000 per week or $200 per day for part weeks” will be paid when an employee is directed to work on a project “located 50 kilometres or more from the address of the employer”.

Workers on government projects worth more than $50 million will also receive a travel allowance, while all workers will receive a $50 daily allowance.

Starting in July, that will jump to $55, and workers who travel more than 50 kilometres will be paid up to $95 dollars a day, increasing to $106 in 2027. 

Employees required to work in the rain will be paid double “for all work performed in the rain and such payment will continue until they cease work”.

A site allowance will also be paid per hour to workers on large projects, starting at $1.70 for projects worth $50 million to $80 million, reaching $10 an hour on projects worth $900 million to $1 billion.

All workers will accrue a rostered day off (RDO) every ten working days, with RDOs still accumulating while workers are on leave.

“The purpose of this calendar is to ensure workers and site management manage their fatigue levels, thereby encouraging safer and more productive projects,” the contract says.

Workers on leave will receive 17.5 per cent leave loading on top of their usual pay packet.

“These are all prevailing conditions in the industry,” Miles said in a follow-up press conference on Wednesday.

“I think it’s appropriate that on government jobs, workers aren’t competing with each other on wages.”

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Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.