Minister sees short clock on wages timebomb
A Federal Minister has warned bad things will happen if wage negotiations are not controlled, calling on unions and employers to take it easy.
Federal Employment Minister Eric Abetz says there could be an “explosion” in wages if employers lay down in fear and keep letting unions get their way.
“As shadow minister it was also disappointing to see weak-kneed employers caving in to unreasonable union demands and then visiting me, advocating for change in the system,” Senator Abetz said this week.
“And now as Minister this phenomenon has unfortunately become even more frustrating.”
“Instead of agitating for reform to outlaw certain tactics, why can't employers just say no?" he asked.
“Employers and unions must be encouraged to take responsibility for the cost of their deals; not just the cost to the affected enterprises but the overall cost in relation to our economy efficiency and the creation of opportunities for others.
“If this is not done, then we risk seeing something akin to the wages explosion of the pre-accord era when unsustainable wage growth simply pushed thousands of Australians out of work,” Senator Abetz said.
The claims of an impending “explosion” are a bit of a stretch, according to some experts.
Chief economist with JP Morgan, Steven Walters, says wages growth is the lowest it has ever been.
“The increase in nominal wages over the last 12 months is only 2.7 per cent, whereas comparing that just to say five years ago heading into the global financial crisis, wages growth was well above 4 per cent,” Wlaters said.
“So in fact it's a very benign outcome.
“Inflation as we know from last week's numbers is running at about 2.6 per cent, so in fact wages growth is really only roughly matching inflation.”
Regardless, Senator Abetz has blamed the demise of Holden in Australia on the generous conditions handed to workers.
He says the Government may even intervene on a current legal dispute between Toyota and its employees to avoid something similar happening there.
Toyota is appealing against a decision that stopped it from changing its working conditions. The company wants to trim Christmas holidays, require a doctor’s certificate for extended sick leave, and reduce some extra leave and other payments.