ACTU must stop misrepresenting the facts on employment

18 Apr 2019 |

Australia’s largest and most representative business voice, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is calling on the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) to stop misrepresenting ABS data and twisting the facts on employment and wages.

“The ACTU’s latest statements on multiple job earners once again seeks to mislead working Australians by making a series of claims that misrepresent the facts and do not stand up to scrutiny,” Australian Chamber CEO, James Pearson, said today.

  1. ACTU claim:
    “According to ABS data, the median income for working people who held two jobs at the same time was $44, 531, compared to $48,344 for those in one job”.

“The ACTU inaccurately presents the data as applying only to those who work two jobs at the same time,” Mr Pearson said.

“However, the ABS data actually includes those who have worked two jobs at any point during the previous 12 months.[1]

“This means the data includes people who leave a job and decide to take a break before starting the next one, or who spend some time securing another job.

“Of course those whose working year is interrupted will take home less than those who work consistently throughout the year.

“In addition, those who work multiple jobs simultaneously have long recorded lower average incomes than those who work only a single job.[2]

“Multiple jobs are far more common for non-managerial, lower earning occupations in comparatively lower earning industries, which would go a far way to explaining this long-standing part of our labour market.

  1. ACTU claim:
    “(Australia is going) down the American path, where working people have to work two, three and even more jobs to earn the bare minimum to cover living costs”.

“ABS data shows 15% of working people are already working multiple jobs and earn far less income than someone with a single job.”

The number of Australians working multiple jobs has been consistently dropping, from 15.7% in 2012-13 to 14.5% in 2015-16. [3]

Australians have for many years been entitled to significantly higher minimum wages than those in the US, and our minimum wages are reviewed (and increased) annually, specifically taking into account increased costs of living.

  1. ACTU claim:
    “Australians are being forced to work multiple jobs.”

A proportion of Australians have always worked multiple jobs.

New technology is giving more Australians options and choices in how they generate their incomes, and many are choosing to work second jobs.

“The ACTU should listen to Australians and respect their choices rather than presuming we must all fall into line with what the bosses of big unions describe as good or bad work,” Mr Pearson said.

“The ACTU should in particular lay off the self-employed (who are also part of the data misrepresented as showing multiple jobs being worked simultaneously) [4].

“The ACTU should welcome entrepreneurship and innovation, rather than attach a negative stigma to those who dare to combine running their own business with paid employment.”

  1. ACTU claim:
    Australian workers are being forced into casual jobs, in increasing numbers.

The Fair Work Commission[5], the ABS[6] and the ABC Fact Check [7] confirm that the proportion of casual employment in the Australian workforce has been steady for the past two decades at around 25%.

“There is simply no trend towards increasing casualisation of work in Australia,” Mr Pearson said.

“For the ACTU and its member unions to continue to make such claims flies in the face of facts.

“Today’s ABS labour force data[8] shows full-time employment is on the rise, increasing by over 48,000 persons between February and March this year, and by over 280,000 over the last year.

“It’s time for union bosses to stick to the facts.”

[1] ABS 6160.0 Table 6. Employed persons and Employment income in all jobs, by selected person and business characteristics, by Regions and by Sex (2011-12 to 2015-16).

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] 4 yearly review of modern awards – casual employment and part-time employment,

[2017] FWCFB 3541 at [368]

[6] ABS, Australian Labour Market Statistics, cat. no. 6105.0 (estimates for 1992 to 2004), ABS, Characteristics of Employment, cat. no. 6333.0,(estimates for 2005 to 2016), RMIT ABC Fact check: Has the rate of casualisation in the workforce remained steady for the last 20 years).


[8] ABS 3202.0 Labour Force, Australia, May 2019

Duncan Bremner

Director - Public Affairs and Advocacy

P  |  0448 822 666

E  |  [email protected]

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