What they really want
More than half of major employers would like to freeze employees’ wages or offer below inflation pay rises that are a cut in real terms, according to a new survey by a leading industrial relations law firm.
The Herbert Smith Freehills bargaining survey found that 60% of employers want to freeze wages, and many more are looking to cut other conditions from workplace agreements.
The survey also found widespread dissatisfaction with the Fair Work Act and the enterprise bargaining process among its 60 key clients, which include large companies across the construction, infrastructure, mining, retail and healthcare sectors.
Wages in Australia have stagnated. Figures released in August show that in the past year wages grew by a record low of 1.9%. In February the governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Philip Lowe, called on businesses to lift wages to “boost household incomes and create a stronger sense of shared prosperity”.
The Freehills survey found 93% of companies wanted to remove some “unproductive or inflexible” conditions in their next round of bargaining, with 20% of those seeking significant change.
Dissatisfaction with the Fair Work Act was evident. Just 34% of employers said the bargaining process struck a fair balance between the rights of employers and unions – and only 26% said it allowed their organisation to improve productivity. Arbitration by the Fair Work Commission was also unpopular. (Source: The Guardian)