Either side exaggerate the importance of wage bargaining modifications

The notion that Albanese’s modest modifications will return us to something remotely approaching the Nineteen Seventies is risible.


In these days, when inflation was far larger than it’s now, our long-gone system of obligatory arbitration had the perverse impact of encouraging many fairly quick strikes. Lately, outdated IR arms know that if a strike lasts greater than a day or two it’s an indication the union has misplaced. It is going to then take years for no matter small pay rise the employees find yourself attending to make up for the various days’ pay they misplaced.

Ask your self this: how are widespread strikes supposed to steer on to widespread job losses? They don’t. They result in some employees dropping their jobs solely as a result of the bulk who don’t lose their jobs are getting wage rises so massive that employers genuinely can’t afford them. It’s not a reasoned argument, it’s an try and frighten the unthinking.

What employers actually concern is a transfer from bargaining on the degree of the person enterprise or enterprise to bargaining at an industry-wide degree, which would make it simpler for the unions to attain pay rises in companies with few union members.

Though industry-wide bargaining stays outlawed by the Truthful Work Act, the employer teams have chosen to fake that the federal government’s cautious extension of entry to multi-enterprise bargaining is just about the identical factor.


Nonsense. As Adelaide College’s Professor Andrew Stewart explains, the brand new provision for “single- (or common-) curiosity” multi-employer bargaining is hedged about with limitations and protections. Unions will be unable to rope in small companies using fewer than 20 employees. Bigger employers can solely be included with out their consent if a majority of their employees needs to cut price.

Entry to this type of bargaining have to be accepted by the Truthful Work Fee, which can allow employers to take part provided that they’re sufficiently “comparable” to the opposite employers. An employer with an present single-enterprise settlement received’t be capable to change to a multi-employer settlement.

However these employers included in such bargaining will likely be required to cut price in “good religion” – be genuinely dedicated to reaching an settlement, and unions will likely be permitted to strike – offered that is accepted by a secret poll of staff.

A big change is that, when both single- or multi-enterprise bargaining turns into intractable, the fee will resolve the dispute by arbitration.

The opposite new provision for “supported bargaining” of multi-employer agreements is aimed toward serving to low-paid employees in strongly feminine industries reminiscent of childcare and aged care. This is prone to produce some important pay rises. Why? As a result of the “assist” will come from the third celebration that can find yourself overlaying the price of the pay rise – the federal authorities.

Other than that, the low union membership in many of the related enterprises says there’ll be few strikes and few massive pay rises.

Ross Gittins is The Sydney Morning Herald’s economics editor.

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