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Hair stylists told to wait in line for next national pay rise

July 1, 2021

Hair stylists have been sent to the back of the queue again with their latest national pay rise delayed until November.

The Fair Work Commission has awarded a 2.5% increase to the national minimum wage, and all Awards, but phased this increase in three different stages.

Workers’ pay under most awards, including most trades, will rise in July, and retail workers’ pay goes up in September.

But Hair and Beauty Award workers, alongside those in tourism and hospitality, won’t see their pay rise until November.

Daniel Walton, National Secretary of the AWU, which powers Hair Stylists Australia, says the decision is extremely unfair.

“This makes no sense as, unlike sectors such as aviation and tourism, hair and beauty does not rely on overseas or domestic tourists to make money,” Daniel says.

“Hair stylists are already one of the lowest-paid trades in Australia, as well as the only one dominated by women – this just further widens the wage gap.

“Not only do hair stylists miss out yet again, but this sets another dangerous precedent for holding back fair, national award rises.”

The July 2020 national pay increase of 1.75% was delayed until February for the Hair and Beauty Award. This means for the 2020 financial year a full-time senior stylist would have lost out on $410 in wages.

The latest delay means hair stylists will lose a further $350 in wage increases this financial year. That’s $760 in lost earnings for a full-time senior stylist in the past two years, not including allowances.

“There is now a real shortage of hairdressers, with many salon owners waiting weeks to find staff,” Daniel says.

“The industry says it can’t get workers, but yet again the same industry, through industry bodies such as HABA and AIG, oppose any attempt to lift hair stylists’ wages.

“Whether its penalty rates or award increases, hair stylists can always rely on these industry bodies to oppose any attempt to actually fix the real problem of being the lowest paid tradespeople in the country.”

Daniel says it’s a disgrace that the only trade dominated by women in the country is also the lowest-paid.

“It’s no wonder so many qualified hairdressers move to other industries where they can get paid more money for less demanding work.

“Hair stylists are extremely passionate about their industry and their clients – and it’s time we started treating them like the highly skilled, creative workers that they are. Respect and dignity is not so much to ask for at work.”

At HSA, we strongly believe the staff shortage is linked to poor workforce retention, driven by systemic wage theft, bullying and harassment in the industry.

If we want to get serious about retaining our stylists, we need to urgently lift pay, and conditions, to attract and keep its young workers.

It’s disappointing to see this outcome from Fair Work, but HSA will continue to fight on. To support our push to improve industry standards, strengthen the Award for all workers, and introduce training and regulation to allow us to do our jobs safely, become a member today.

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