How Your Workplace Will Change FOREVER Under New Rules Revealed in the Budget – And Why It Will Be Harder for You to Get Fired
- Budget documents have expressed support for ‘multi-employer negotiation’ system
- This would cause the pay increase in one workplace to be replicated by another boss
- Labor also pledged to tackle precarious work, fixed-term contracts phased out
Australians will see their workplaces changed forever under new plans unveiled in the budget to raise wages and make it harder to get fired.
The Treasury Budget papers have revealed that Australia’s new Labor government wants to introduce ‘multi-employer negotiations’, with raises in one company spilling over to other workplaces.
This shows that the ALP is embracing a concept embraced by the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
“Workplace negotiations will be revived through targeted and balanced changes in the labor relations system,” Treasury said.
“This will help more companies reach agreements with their employees that improve wage outcomes, especially for low-paid occupations.”
The advent of “multi-employer negotiation” would breathe new life into the industry-wide bargaining system that existed until 1983.
Australians will see their workplaces changed forever under new plans unveiled in the budget to raise wages and make it harder to get fired (pictured is a Sydney lollipop lady)
Treasury said this could be used to resolve labor disputes, hinting at a greater role for unions.
“The government will also provide additional support to help employers and employees reach agreements and resolve disputes, with improved access to arbitration for persistent disputes,” it said.
This will be complemented by better access to multi-employer negotiations.
“Trade unions and employer representatives will also be supported to work together and with the government to improve safety, fairness and productivity in the workplace.”
ACTU Secretary Sally McManus has criticized the entrepreneurial bargaining system introduced in 1993 under the Labor government of former Prime Minister Paul Keating, which aimed to automatically transfer pay increases in one workplace across an entire industry.
Bob Hawke’s Labor government had previously used a series of centralized agreements with unions to curb wages, which had risen double digits in the early 1980s.
Wage growth in Australia has remained below the long-term average of three percent since 2013, with wage levels remaining low despite unemployment hitting a near 48-year low of 3.5 percent in September.
The Treasury Budget papers have revealed Australia’s new Labor government wants to introduce ‘multi-employer negotiations’, with raises in one company spilling over to other workplaces (pictured is a Paddy’s Markets salesman in Sydney)
Back to the future?
In May 1981, average weekly earnings rose 14 percent and inflation reached 11 percent that year, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed.
The Amalgamated Metal Workers Union had been able to strike a wage increase of $39 a week that trickled down to the rest of the economy at a time when the average full-time male worker was earning less than $300 a week.
Unemployment stood at 5.4 percent in June 1981, but less than two years later it nearly doubled to 10.5% in July 1983.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanian won the May elections in a campaign to increase job security, including for temporary workers.
The budget announced that the government would restrict the use of fixed-term contracts to address precarious work, making it a key target of the Fair Work Act of 2009.
Employees will also have easier access to more easily recover unpaid wages through a small claims procedure.
Women and minorities will also benefit from enhanced anti-discrimination protection.
With wages well below inflation, the government had raised the minimum wage by 5.2 percent on July 1, which was in line with inflation earlier this year.
Treasury said the government would likely support larger wage increases to help the lowest paid better cope with high inflation.
“Supporting wage increases for our lowest paid workers and getting wages moving again,” it said.
Labor introduced the Better Off Overall Test when it designed the Fair Work Commission in 2009 when Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister.
Now back in government, Labor has promised that this backlog test in collective agreements would not be easier to apply.
“Together with increased negotiation support for small businesses and an investment in the expertise of the Fair Work Commission, more companies will be supported to negotiate agreements with their employees that improve pay outcomes,” it said.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has won May’s election in a campaign to increase job security, including for temporary workers (pictured in Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday)
Wage levels are expected to lag significantly behind inflation in 2022-2023, despite labor shortages and unemployment near a 48-year low of 3.5 percent.
Treasury expects inflation to reach a 32-year high of 7.75 percent by the end of 2022.
Inflation is expected to moderate to 5.75 percent in 2022-23, but it would still be well above the forecast wage price index of 3.75 percent.
This would lead to workers continuing to experience real wage cuts, despite wage levels growing at the fastest pace since 2012.
Wages were not expected to surpass inflation until 2023-24, when wages continued to grow at 3.75 percent, as headline inflation — also known as the consumer price index — grew by 3.5 percent.