The cost of consumer goods and services has increased 2.1 per cent in the past year, exactly at the same rate as wages have risen, new figures Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal. That means real wages are not rising at all, meaning Australia’s long spell of wage stagnation looks set to continue.
Esso is preparing to reactivate a bid to axe the workplace agreement for its Bass Strait offshore oil and gas operations, wiping out decades-old union conditions in a push to introduce new rosters. Termination would see about 250 workers fall back on to the award minimum, cutting pay by as much as two thirds, although Esso has agreed to maintain workers' current pay and conditions for six months.
We’re just three months out until production for Victoria’s biggest transport project begins. And already it is marred by potential cost blowouts and delays. After more than six months of negations, and no workplace agreement in place to build the project, talks are now nearing a stalemate. The companies have said that they offered generous pay rates for employees, working a mix of day and night shifts, that would be well in excess of $150,000 a year.
Unions will press federal Labor to scrap the need for secret ballots before strikes, allow legal industrial action in support of industry-wide pay claims and remove all restrictions on what can be included in enterprise agreements under an agenda fiercely opposed by the business
State Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace has updated a directive for all government departments to grant 20 days’ “pandemic leave’’ on top of 10 days’ sick leave to all public servants. Bureaucrats will be able to use up to a month’s bonus leave to stay home on full pay if they can’t get public transport to work, or if their child’s school or day-care centre shuts down during a flu pandemic.
Four years ago, 2.4 million employees were covered by 19,000 enterprise agreements. Today, the figure has dropped 25 per cent to around 1.8 million employees covered by some 13,000 enterprise agreements. With over 12.5 million employees in Australia, and over 2.2 million businesses, enterprise bargaining is irrelevant in the vast majority of workplaces – yet it is common in industries that are critical to the country's economic performance because they are vulnerable to damaging protected industrial action.
Schneider Electric wants to introduce a two-tier system with new employees hired at a substantially lower wage rate. The company is also demanding workers accept a 40-hour week compared with the current 38 hours. Workers employed by Schneider Electric to carry out maintenance at Melbourne airport struck for eight hours on Monday in a dispute over a new enterprise agreement.
Downer Group’s New South Wales (NSW) construction and maintenance division have reached a new in-principle agreement that delivers a pay rise of 2.5 percent.
Average annual wage rises in new agreements rose to 2.7 per cent in the March quarter, up from the record lows of 2.5 per cent in the December quarter and 2.2 per cent in the September quarter, according to Department of Jobs figures released on Thursday.
Unions have warned that further disruption is likely across the network as Aurizon seeks to reduce wage increases in its enterprise agreements from 4pc/yr. to 1-2pc/yr. The firm is also looking to split enterprise agreements for its coal haulage operations from the remainder of its business, which has further angered unions.
Discussions between Qantas and staff about the sale of Q Catering have turned ugly, with five union delegates stood down amid a row over superannuation entitlements. While Qantas' Q Catering and Snap Fresh employees are set to become dnata employees once the sale is finalised, subject to their current employment agreements, their previous agreement expired late last year and staff are concerned their entitlements will not be kept.
Unions are threatening strikes at BlueScope Steel, accusing the company of refusing to adequately compensate workers who endured a pay freeze and cuts to conditions to help the business return to bumper profits. The unions want a 10 per cent pay rise over the next three years to compensate for not receiving a wage increase for four years. BlueScope is offering a 7.5 per cent pay rise over three years, a $1500 sign-on bonus once the agreement is approved, and a profit-share payment that includes a $4000 pre-payment ahead of next year’s profit results.
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