Prices paid to tradespeople in Australia skyrocket

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Sydney, Oct 30 (UNI) Plumbers, carpenters and other workmen are earning a fast buck in Australia thanks to a chronic shortage of workers in key trades.

Prices paid to tradespeople rose 7.2 per cent last year in the city, more than three times the rate of inflation, figures released yesterday by the Housing Industry Association show.

''We charge people 100 dollar an hour, and I've been working for about 18 months. Other places I know charge much more,'' Michael Punzet, who works for Ben's Plumbing in Bondi, was quoted by Sydney Morning Herald as saying.

''And that's on weekdays. After that you've got a minimum 200 dollar call-out at the weekend.'' Bricklaying costs rose the most, up 14 per cent on a year ago.

Joinery costs rose about 8 per cent, and it is 7 per cent more expensive to employ a plasterer than it was last year. Builders enjoyed a 3.9 per cent price rise in the three months to September alone.

An apprentice carpenter, Milo Yeates, said there was ''loads of work for carpenters''.

''I was offered a job on Wednesday that pays 35 dollar an hour and I've not finished my qualifications yet,'' he said.

The association's index shows prices rose sharply for trades in most capital cities. Sydneysiders pay the most for trades work outside Western Australia.

According to the index's measure of trade availability, plumbers are the hardest to come by, despite a small improvement in the last three months.

UNI

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