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Message from the CEO, Dominique Lamb: 17 April 2018

April 17, 2018

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has upped the ante on its anti-business crusade, unveiling an alarming six-point plan it believes will lift wages.

It’s a plan that’s more likely, however, to send businesses broke and cost Australians their jobs.

Industry groups, including the NRA, have warned the unions’ bid for industry-wide bargaining and strike rights could cripple the economy.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive James Pearson has warned any such measures would take the nation back to the 1970s-style industrial relations landscape, where the global economy was on the edge of a recession, and industry-wide strikes were commonplace.

“Enterprise bargaining ushered in one of the great periods of prosperity, opportunity and middle-class growth in Australia’s history,’’ Mr Pearson said late last week.

As part of the wages “blueprint” in the Change The Rules campaign, the ACTU has demanded changes to the Fair Work Act to allow workers to take legal strike action in support of industry-wide pay claims.

Taking away power from the independent umpire, the Fair Work Commission, is a frightening enough idea, but to then distribute that power to the unions would be catastrophic.

We all want to see wages growth – that’s a given. But we also need to make sure it’s done in an affordable, sustainable way.

Trying to bully businesses into paying higher wages when they can’t afford them doesn’t make sense. It’s Business 101!

You can’t up wages without upping your revenue, so allowing unions to take power from the FWC to force these changes can only lead to one outcome, and that’s fewer paid shifts to go around. One worker’s higher wages come at the cost of another worker’s extra shift. 

If businesses cannot afford wage increases, they eventually become unsustainable, and end up closing their doors. And then everyone loses their shifts.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but that seems like a bad outcome for businesses, workers, and for the Australian economy.

I spoke with you last week about the current pre-Budget discussions surrounding cuts to income tax as well as company tax. These are measures that together, along with other sensible policies, are designed and proven to stimulate the economy and lift wages. These are evidence-based, data-driven methods that are good for everyone.

Sensible policy and good government doesn’t tug at your heartstrings. It doesn’t play to stereotypes of ‘us’ vs ‘them’. It doesn’t provoke outrage by exploiting assumptions.

But sensible policy and good government is how we, as a nation, achieve real and sustainable growth for business, employment and the economy.

Have a great week.

Dominique Lamb, CEO. 

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