We are staring in the face of a massive cost of living crisis where the prices everywhere have gone up but our wages have not. So what do we do to tackle such a big challenge?
Australian Council of Trade Unions Secretary Sally McManus stated that fixing the enterprise bargaining system was the crucial way forward for workers’ wages.
“The main reason why wages have collapsed is because collective bargaining has collapsed,” she told the ABC.
The 14 per cent of workers in Australia covered by enterprise bargaining agreements represent half the coverage we had a decade ago.
“And the people that are missing out are feminised industries. So aged care, childcare. But also people in small workplaces as well,” McManus said.
“We have a service-based care economy, and we shouldn’t have a situation where so many people are missing out.”
We cannot fix wages growth without fixing collective bargaining. We need a bargaining system which is simple, fair and accessible for all.
Our jobs and workplaces have changed over the past 30 years and our bargaining system needs to as well.
As McManus explained on Today, part of the changes will be to make the system simpler for workers to navigate.
“Our current system is far too complicated. And you’ve always got to balance it. You can make things simple but then they can be unfair. So as long as you balance it with fairness, we should all have a go at making it as simple as possible,” McManus said.
This is not a new problem and it’s not just caused by the pandemic or overseas conflict. Workers’ wages have been frozen or declining for the last decade.
Next week, we’ll be taking our positive plan to the Government, with common sense proposals to fix collective bargaining, and make it meet the needs of workers, as well as employers.
Workers in unions are already a step ahead: on average, members have 32 per cent higher wages than non-members per week due to the efforts of union members organising and negotiating for decent wages together.
Non-members still get some benefits from the work of workers in unions to secure better wages, but these benefits would be even larger if they too were part of the union.
And if we had a bargaining system that kept pace with our modern workplaces, all workers would benefit even more from the higher incomes that come with collective bargaining.
if you’re not yet a union member, join with almost two million workers today and help drive the positive change we need for all workers.