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Why isn’t our “strong economy” benefitting workers?

“The best remedy for higher wages is a stronger economy, and the way that you get that stronger economy is through responsible economic management,” says the man whose government last year oversaw the biggest fall in real wages this century aside from when the GST was introduced.

As reported by Greg Jericho, “Since September 2013, private-sector wages have grown just 1.4% above inflation, compared to the 4.2% they grew during the Rudd/Gillard governments – despite being in power for three fewer years.”

In February, the Australian Financial Review reported “Investors are primed for the highest levels of corporate profits on record in the year ahead after upbeat half-year results that have calmed fears that rising costs and supply chain hiccups could dampen earnings.”

And it seems the war in Ukraine has only boosted that outlook here as commodity prices soar.

So with low unemployment and high corporate profits, why aren’t wages rising?

Because workers no longer have a collective voice.

The undermining and demonisation of unions has done its job. Workers can no longer even withdraw their labour without facing huge penalties or the sack.

The rot started with the Accord brokered by Bob Hawke. Unions gave up demanding large pay rises in return for social benefits like Medicare and superannuation. But, as time went on and union membership dwindled, so did any pay rises.

Combine that with the erosion of secure work through contracting and labour hire firms and the casualisation of the workforce, the rise of the gig economy and skilled visa workers, and we end up with no representative body protecting workers rights.

The Fair Work Commission has been stacked with employer-friendly commissioners who enjoy enormous salaries to decide that the lowest paid workers don’t need penalty rates and that increasing the minimum wage would be too inflationary.

Worker exploitation is rife and the penalties, if caught, negligible. The same cannot be said about the penalties imposed on unions or workers who engage in industrial action.

Big business, aided and abetted by the Murdoch media, have kept the Coalition in power for twenty of the last twenty-six years and they have been rewarded handsomely for their efforts.

It’s time the workers united again to claim their share of the profits their labour produces. Companies should fulfil their part of the social contract by paying fair wages and taxation.

With 12% of Australians living in poverty, it’s time we had a government that puts the welfare of its people first.

It’s time.

 

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31 comments

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  1. New England Cocky

    To elect an Australian government that cares for workers we ALL must: .

    1) Vote anyone but Liarbrals, UAP or One Nation in city electorates, .
    .
    2) Vote credible Independent or SFF in country electorates and
    .
    3) Vote BELOW THE LINE by marking every candidate in your personal preferred order ensuring that COALiiton politicians have the highest numbers putting them last
    .
    and maybe we will have a chance of saving Australian democracy for our grandkids.

  2. leefe

    If that headline is a serious question, then: because it isn’t supposed to. A “strong economy” for this misgovernment is one which enables the greatest possible gains for the richest and most powerful people. The plebs are nothing more than an annoying but, for now anyway, necessary cog in the machine.

  3. totaram

    Leefe: Agree 100%.

  4. Mr Shevill Mathers

    Spot on, as usual. We must hope that the current LNP all go the same way as Howard went, (lost his own seat as well as government.) We do not want the remains of LNP members as any part of the opposition in a new Labor government. They will be a loud, shouty waste of space, taking up valuable productivity. For a ‘lucky country’, only the elite few share its resources wealth, certainly not the workers who generated that wealth. We need to be manufacturing again, (EV’s) would be a good start, and skilling our own local folks and stop importing all the many ‘skilled’ overseas workers, whose pay does not stay in Australia. So many missed opportunities by this LNP shambles, it will take many years to climb out of the hole they have put this country in. Role on election day, can’t wait.

  5. Michael Taylor

    There’s no greater example of trickle-down economics being nothing but a faulty ideology than our very own government.

  6. GL

    “Why isn’t our “strong economy” benefitting workers?”

    Because they aren’t the 10% that keep the most insidious and corrupt party we have ever had the displeasure to be screwed over by in their copious and very deep pockets, that’s why. Remember the line from the Roman senate in History of the World, Part 1.

  7. Andrew J. Smith

    Agree, for too many years voters and even actual or potential union members have been subjected to dog whistling of unions and the old chestnut, ‘immigrants are taking our jerbs’.

    While some analysts still blames undefined ‘immigration’ they miss the picture provided by OECD data on medium-long term demographic trends; Australia’s working age cohort has declined to 65.1% as a proportion of the population, comparing with many developed nations, why?

    https://data.oecd.org/chart/6EZv (Compares Oz with other developed nations).

    We have an ageing permanent population with baby boomers in the midst of transition to retirement; this should mean more power to increase wages/salaries and improve award conditions, if union coverage is accessible.

    However, as ever or at least since Howard, the ‘nebulous’ (UNPD defined) short term NOM net overseas migration or ‘churnover’ of students etc. attracts most attention because it creates a headline number useful for headlines.

    As Robert Reich of the Clinton administration said years ago, why are we fearful of immigrants when the Anglo world is the best in the world at accepting and integrating immigrants? Why?

    Goes back to the late ’70s ‘fossil fueled’ ZPG Zero Population Growth which included Steve Bannon’s muse deceased white nationalist John ‘passive eugenics’ Tanton, both a visitor to Oz and admirer of the white Oz policy; much of his outlook is reflected in current Anglo immigration policy and used to deflect from fossil fuels; ‘architecture’ to deflect from deep seated radical right libertarian policies behind both Brexit and Trump.

  8. GL

    Gosh, I wonder which section of the population will receive this largesse? Could it be those on $48k and less, I’m all aquiver in anticipation (and muddy knees) to find out.

    “Tax relief kicking in this year worth $16 billion should see individuals $2565 better off, and $5130 for dual-income couples.”

  9. John OCallaghan

    I didn’t listen to this Fudget as I value my sanity too much, this government In the last ten years has dragged this country to the edge of the cliff, and if Labor do not win the next one, I will have to reassess my options!

  10. corvusboreus

    NEC,
    Vote SFF!!!
    We need gunz in our skoolz, not more ‘climate change’ bullshit.

    NOWENDOC REPRESENT!!!!!

  11. wam

    Sadly kaye, a conservative believes low wages and high profits are the definers of a good economy. Any wage rise is the sign of a rising recession. The task for labor thinker is to work out why workers vote the libs into power?
    ps GL, no liberal gov can be elected without the votes of workers. Scummo’s miracle was in two queensland seats where workers were frightened by the caravan and dumped labor sitting members.

  12. GL

    wam,

    I believe that the LNP and Scummo rely more on apathy than anything else. And they feel that if won’t work then scare them, more than ably supported by the repulsive Murdoch/Costello/Stokes media, with all the horrible things that Labor (add the Greens to the mixture to make it even more frightening even if it’s all lies) will do to them if they vote out the LNP.

    Sadly, I feel the bastards will squeak back in again. I really hope I’m wrong but…well, let’s wait and see.

  13. New England Cocky

    @ Corvusboreus: You do a wonderful masquerade as a COALiiton troll. STOP AND THINK PRACTICALLY!!!

    How do you get rural rustics practicing rural socialism to vote against the government hand that feeds them???

    The few thinking rustics will consider voting LABOR (for about 2 nanoseconds) and then wonder if there is any future in politics. Rural apathy is a wonderful support for self-serving politicians creating their own retirement fund at public expense. Why you could even support two families on such income. Then there are the shares from thankful recipients of political largesse.

    The mainstream media-ocrity has poorly reported the major campaigns being run by the SFF identifying the too many deficiencies in government services in country towns and MDB water thieving rorts by Nazional$ supporters.

    But I am most amazed that you can spell ”NOWENDOC”” without knowing what it is.

  14. corvusboreus

    NEC,
    Speaking practically;
    I notice that the SFF don’t have a federal candidate for the seat of NE, nor any of the surrounding ‘rustic’ electorates.
    Since you are already actively spruiking for the SFF, perhaps you should register and campaign as a candidate.
    That way people in your electorate could actually follow your oft-repeated advice.

  15. wam

    GL
    If the greens had voted to double the debt limit, rather than remove any limit.
    Can you imagine the media giving air time to labor, every time they had to ask for an increase???
    Yes, the morning shows love controversy and labor would get a gig every day the gov wasted cash??

  16. Kaye Lee

    The debt limit was an artificial construct that would never be stable and served no purpose. Debt, invested wisely, brings a greater return than the cost.

    This constant Greens bashing is beyond wearing. It is purely political rather than analytical.

  17. Terence Mills

    Scraping barnacles, the coalition governent are rushing through their :

    Treasury Laws Amendment (Cyclone and Flood Damage Reinsurance Pool) Bill 2022

    This legislation is providing for insurance companies to lay off the cyclone risk they underwrite in cyclone prone areas to the reinsurance pool and thus encourage them to reduce their premiums and remain in those areas [many insurers just stopped providing insurance north of Noosa].

    So, this reinsurance pool is a good thing, right ? Well why is it having such a rough time in the senate ?

    The reason is that it doesn’t actually cover flood as the name implies unless the flooding is a direct consequence of a named cyclone. So the folk in Northern NSW and Southern Qld and in particular those in and around Lismore, it doesn’t apply to them because the flooding that they have and are now experiencing was not caused by a named cyclone, it was caused by a low.

    So the government present to the parliament a defective piece of legislation and try to force it through, prior to the election to say it is one of their achievements in office.

    This is another con-job that has Morrison’s hand print all over it !

    https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2022B00003

  18. The AIM Network

    Here’s someone with his finger on the pulse…

    NOT!

    No matter how many times you read it, it still won’t make any sense.

  19. margcal

    wam: ps GL, no liberal gov can be elected without the votes of workers. ……. also the unemployed and those on disability and age pensions.

    Sadly true of the lot of them.

  20. corvusboreus

    Barnaby’s ‘near religious conviction’ matches his ‘almost honest conduct’, and ‘sometimes monogamous relationships’.

    “This is not a movie, this is not a bad dream, this is the reality now…”
    https://images.app.goo.gl/3fLxpqU93KLjraWU8
    Our default PM

  21. B Sullivan

    “The best remedy for higher wages is a stronger economy’’.

    This statement implies that higher wages is a malady. A stronger economy doesn’t benefit wage earners. It benefits those who profit from their labour. Historically, many nations have become great economic powers as a result of the exploitation of workers and especially from the low labour costs of slavery. Wages are seen to be a burden on the economy. They reduce profits depriving capitalists of the finance they require to grow ever stronger economies that will always benefit them at the expense of everyone and everything else.

    So if businesses are plagued by higher wages the best cure for them is a stronger economy that will compensate them for the distress they have to suffer, until full automation becomes the panacea that will allow them to eradicate the wages disease forever.

  22. wam

    Margcal that is so true so why doesn’t labor win???
    You will find no answers here.

  23. Kaye Lee

    Wage theft in Australia is systemic, sustained and shameful and workers are often too scared to speak out in fear of repercussions, according to a scathing Senate inquiry report, which calls for new laws to protect employees.

    It follows a string of high-profile underpayment cases at celebrity-headed hospitality venues and at some of nation’s biggest employers, including Qantas, NAB, CBA, Coles, Woolworths, Super Retail Group and the ABC.

    “Systemic wage theft is often a deliberate decision of businesses that participate in a race to the bottom to bring down wages and increase profit,” the report said.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-03-30/brt-wage-theft-inquiry-report/100952990

  24. Kaye Lee

    Why doesn’t Labor win?

    Perhaps their fixation with fighting the Greens and each other might have something to do with it

  25. wam

    haha well said kay but labor rightly blamed billy’s sudden vocal appearances after 6 years of ???? and itself but is too gutless blame the greens for their disastrous liberal votes. According to my memory of your posts, little billy, palmer and rupert were the problem.
    Labor lost in coal country and NW Tassie.
    Any fool can see the bandit’s dream of being labor’s ‘barnaby’ and his ruthless method of achieving such a dream.
    Like it or not labor cannot win if it publicly supports the loonies.
    The loonies cannot win a non-labor seat but can take a labor seat with liberal preferences if they can con enough labor people to desert.
    You have seen the quite vicious green sites now ask your friends about the greens.

  26. Kaye Lee

    wam,

    You will always be fixated on the politics and I will always be far more interested in the policies.

    From my observation, Labor lacks the courage to do what must be done and they need the Greens and strong Independents to drag them along.

    Courageous decisions can be made by strong leaders who communicate honestly.

    And those who don’t understand that we must stop burning fossil fuels are not the people to pander to.

  27. wam

    Kaye, that is a fair assessment and I am chastened by a school teacher’s jibe, from a person who will not understand that policies, with no hope of being able to implement them, become mealy mouthed words, are they different from other extremist parties, designed to con cash from unthinking latte’s and perhaps a seat(the bandit’s 9) with lib preferences. The result of taking direct votes from labor and scaring workers who should vote labor, into voting conservative to avoid the ‘loony greens’. You, corvus and lord all ignore the tragedy of:
    the greens votes on climate action and debt limit boobies caravan securing the bandit’s extra $3m in AEC cash
    If you look at the record of the bandit and the passage of the greens through boobby, chrissie, dinatali. You will not see the glossy greens of theory, far less the great greens of tassie.
    So you are right about politics and me because I love labor as caring honest and somewhat naive socialists with an unsung record of achievement far in excess of the coalition. Sadly there are too many of you who think the greens are sincere and too few of me who believe the greens have an agenda and will ruthlessly pursue the bandit’s schemes. But I don’t really give a rat’s arse about extreme parties like PHON, UAP, SFaFP and the greens they can pontificate all they want but they will never get my preference vote. Sometimes labor doesn’t get my AEC cash but they will always get my vote. ps I loved, and was heartened by, Albo’s reply and his sincere delivery of how much better a labor government has been and will be. Go for it Albo. (a little deflated when my darling said how many of you friends would have heard it. I would think 5%) Also encouraging is over the last two days, I have seen bits of the NT News that were readable. and hinted that our editor may have a smidgen of fairness. Indeed her editorial today was the best in my memory.
    ps
    We agree that greenhouse gases must be eliminated just ask the loonies about 2009??
    But more importantly ask yourself how will china, India and Africa get rich without coal?

  28. Kaye Lee

    “policies, with no hope of being able to implement them, become mealy mouthed words”

    I disagree. Greens policies always end up being Labor (and even coalition) policies down the line – look at marriage equality for example. The rise in climate change independents has made the government shift. Your dismissal of those who are concerned about climate change as “lattes” and “loonies” is ridiculous Murdoch crap. I would expect better from you.

    If we are going to hark back to every vote in history there are a lot of reasons to be very angry with Labor. It is an utterly pointless exercise.

    And if you think coal will make Indians rich, you are more naive than I thought. Coal will make some Indian billionaires richer in the short term but it will never bring power to the people. The best hope for that is localised solar.

    “The average number of deaths caused by air pollution across the south Asian country of India was over 1.66 million in 2019, up from around 1.64 million deaths in the previous year. A significant increase in the deaths due to air pollution was recorded since 1990.”

  29. wam

    Kaye,
    The major source of air pollution in india is burning wood, cow dung, and other solid fuels for cooking food in low-income households. Much like the days of pommie smogs??
    How have you and me become richer than the 3rd world?? ENERGY?
    Where is south america, india, china and africa going to get energy?
    They, especially china and brazil, may be ahead of us with renewables but, unless we provide the energy, they will need coal and oil to develop their renewable efforts further? Do we want to keep the oil for ourselves????
    ps
    We in darwin could develop tidal energy for ourselves with enough left over to send to indonesia, timor, singapore???

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