A new survey of nearly 10,000 retail, fast food and warehouse workers has highlighted the need for a national wage increase, both in the Hunter, and across the country.

The results of the survey from the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), show members are struggling under falling living standards. 

SDA Newcastle branch secretary Barbara Nebart, commented on the survey results, and said workers across the country deserve better.

“79 percent of people said that the rising cost of living is putting enormous pressure on their budgets, and their standards of living have decreased over the last five years,” she said. 

“The vast majority also said any delay in the National Wage Case would cause them further hardship.”

Ms Nebart said the SDA is now calling for a wage increase which reflects the latest inflation rate of 5.1%, as well as the increases in childcare and housing costs over the last year. 

“Over the last two years of national wage increases, retail and fast food workers- who have been essential workers throughout the pandemic- got delayed wage increases. They weren’t payed on the 1st of July with everyone else. In 2020 it was delayed until February of the next year, and then last year it was delayed until September. What’s the reasoning for that?” she said. 

Ms Nebart said Hunter workers have been particularly effected by rising housing costs and rental prices, as people sought to escape rising living costs by leaving the city. 

She also said an economic boost is particularly important for rural communities, with recent figures indicating retail wages contribute to over $15.7 billion per year to the economies of rural areas, country towns and regional cites. 

SDA National Secretary Gerard Dwyer said the National Wage Case needs to make up for a decade of sluggish wage growth.

He said “Retail workers are no longer working to get ahead, they are not even working to stand still, they are working hard to go backwards.”