Aussies paid more because of strong collective bargaining - Australian union boss
Australian Union Leader suggests Aussie wages higher because of strong collective bargaining
Australia’s industrial relations framework is one of the keys to its ‘decent’ wage levels, according to Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney.
Speaking on TVNZ’s Q+A this morning she said Australia did not go down the path of New Zealand’s Employment Contracts Act in the 1990s.
“We still have a very strong collective bargaining system here in Australia,” she said.
“We don’t rely terribly much on individual contracts. We have a framework that allows unions to actually organise and get their works better pay rises. We have a very strong minimum-wage case that we run every year, and, of course, we have our award system, which have stayed pretty much intact.”
Ms Kearney said collective bargaining is the way “workers get a premium on their wages, and one collectively bargains with the help and assistance of organised labour through
Australia’s robust mining industry was helping the country’s strong economy, she said, while the manufacturing sector was ‘weakening somewhat’ influenced by the Australian dollar and the global economy.
The ACTU is concerned that the new government of Tony Abbott will move the country to an individual contract style of employment arrangements, Ms Kearney said.
“We are very concerned about the direction he is taking with respect to enabling trade unions to organise and collectively bargain. We are concerned about a number of things within the industrial relations framework with an Abbott Government that will drive wages down and cause concerns for workers in Australia.”
Australian trade unions are campaigning to combat the trend of employing workers as casuals or contractors, now comprising 40% of the workforce.
“This is a big concern for productivity,” Ms Kearney said. “It’s a concern for the standard of living that we have in Australia. It’s a big concern for the coherence of our communities and our family units. People employed in casual jobs, they can’t get home loans, they can’t get car loans, they can’t get paid holidays, paid sick leave, paid carers leave.
“All those things that we enjoy as permanent employees are swept out from under us when we’re employed in insecure work.”
Watch the full interview here.