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Unless you are among the elite 30 staffers who work for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, it is unlikely that you will get much of a pay rise this year.

Australians will struggle to keep up with the cost of living after signing agreements with wage rises that are below inflation in the next two years.

If you work in retail, telecos, media and transport, you are likely to face the steepest hurdle of all to get any more money.

Figures from the Department of Jobs and Small Business show that employers have negotiated rate rises of just 2.2 per cent –  barely covering the rising cost of a bagful of groceries.

More than 3000 Qantas flight attendants, for instance, signed an agreement that will see their wage increase by just 1.8 per cent a year, while 2000 IKEA employees will take a home pay rise of just 1 per cent.

The glorious days of the mining industry of 6 per cent annual pay rises are long gone. Today, the 1500 workers who work in mining have just signed a deal with a pay rise of just 1.9 per cent.

Faced with the government’s prediction that inflation will rise to 2.25 per cent this year, this means that some workers will in fact receive a pay cut.

So you want to ask the boss for a rise?  Here are five ways to do it…

* Know what you are worth – and what the boss can pay.  If business is bad, you may want to wait until things get better.

* Practice your pitch – Rehearse what you are going to say to your boss so that you appear confident. Talk about work – and share his worries.

* Present yourself well – Start by saying how much you are enjoying your job and what extra work you have taken on, talk about your achievements and why you deserve a rise.

*Timing is everything – If your firm is over budget or just lost a major contract, the timing may not be right. Delay until the business has improved.

* Make an appointment – Avoid Mondays when there are lots to do at the start of the week. Avoid Fridays because the boss may have the weekend in mind. That still leaves three other days!

We presume the Prime Minister’s staff used our advice.

Flying in the face of low wage rise environment, taxpayers will foot a $840,000 annual bill of pay rises to 30 staffers who work in Parliament for Mr Turnbull. The Prime Minister used a special power in the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 to hand an average of $28,000 each to the 30 staffers.

Mr Turnbull paid former chief of staff Drew Clarke $691,000 – nearly $200,000 more than the PM himself – after he matched the wages Clarke received as the secretary of the Department of Communications.