Big Unions’ wish list a clear and present danger to Australian living standards

05 Mar 2019 |

The Australian Council of Trade Union’s (ACTU) plan to remove power from employees and employers and hand it to union officials they have never met, running unions they don’t join, is the real threat to Australian living standards, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Australia’s largest network of business, said today.

“The ACTU is trying to divide Australians, and pull the wool over their eyes to promote the self-serving agenda of big unions,” said James Pearson, Chief Executive of the Australian Chamber, responding to the ACTU’s Inequality in Australia report, released today.

“Many families say that bills are growing faster than incomes. Although the statistics show otherwise across the community, there’s no doubt that many Australians are doing it tough and, while more jobs are available, there’s still more to do to support businesses so they can offer people more hours of work and afford higher wage rises.

“Both employees and people running small businesses are feeling the pressure of increased power prices, for example,” Mr Pearson said.

“However, the ACTU’s wish list of industry-wide strikes, reduced flexibility and increased union power is not the answer. The ACTU knows full well that:

  • Reduced wage growth is a global challenge across comparable developed economies, regardless of their different industrial relations systems.
  • 27 years of economic growth has delivered significantly improved living standards for  Australians across every income decile (Productivity Commission Inquiry, Aug 2018).
  • Australia’s progressive tax and highly targeted welfare systems substantially reduce inequality (Productivity Commission Inquiry, Aug 2018).
  • Economic mobility is high in Australia, with almost everyone moving across the income distribution over the course of their lives (Productivity Commission Inquiry, Aug 2018).
  • Wages are rising in real terms (after inflation). While wage rises are not as strong as previous years, forecasts are for wages growth to accelerate.
    – Inflation is 1.8% (CPI Dec 2018), and the most recent wages growth figure is 2.4% (Average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings, Nov 2018).
    – Wage increases under enterprise agreements rose from 2.7% to 3.2% on the most recent data, June to September 2018 (Source).

“It is clear that big unions are attempting to exploit genuine concerns and create division at a time when we should be encouraging collaboration not conflict in our workplaces,” Mr Pearson said.

“Pointing to billionaires and corporate profits is a deliberate distraction by big unions.

“Unions know that the people who run small businesses don’t earn that kind of money or make that kind of profit, and they know that their industrial relations wish list will hurt small businesses and the people who work for them. If the ACTU has its way on industrial relations, small businesses will face massive cost increases and less freedom to run their businesses the best way they know how, which will make it harder to stay in business and put jobs at risk.”

Duncan Bremner

Director - Public Affairs and Advocacy

P  |  0448 822 666

E  |  [email protected]

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