The Attorney-General’s Department’s latest bargaining trends report for the December quarter of 2020 reveals enterprise bargaining agreements (EBAs) approved at the end of 2020 averaged pay rises of just 2.2%, the equal lowest increase in 29 years.
Pay increases in public sector agreements fell below 2% for the first time ever, while pay rises in union agreements fell behind increases in non-union agreements for the second time in the past four quarters.
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Nevertheless, EBA pay rises were higher than both the ABS’ Wage Price Index (WPI) and the Consumer Price Index (CPI):
As expected, employer groups are using the soft EBA wage growth to argue for the IR Omnibus Bill to be reincarnated:
“The data shows what we already knew, that the enterprise bargaining system has been dying a slow and painful death for many years,” [Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said]…
“The Senate’s failure to pass modest reforms to revive the system has let Australians down badly, costing workers higher wages and businesses the chance to innovate and grow.”
By contrast, ACTU president Michele O’Neil has urged the Morrison Government to listen to working Australians and not seek to change the IR landscape:
“What we learned last year was that the best decisions get made where a mixture of voices get listened to and respected.
“We’d hope Michaelia Cash is going to come into this portfolio with a willingness to listen to what’s happening to working people in Australia.”
Does anybody genuinely believe that employer groups would champion reforms that would push up wage costs? Clearly not.
In a similar vein, would unions have so strongly opposed the IR Omnibus Bill if it was likely to lead to higher wages? Obviously not.
Always follow the money.