Australian Pay Packets Squeezed As More Employers Take ‘Nuclear Option’ | 2/8/2018 | Staff
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SYDNEY (Reuters) – In Australia, it’s known as the “nuclear option”. An employer applies to the court to rip up an expiring wages deal, puts workers back on their industry’s minimum pay, and then negotiates a new contract.

The once-rare negotiating tactic is becoming more widespread, used by companies including BP , Alcoa and Unilever , to change work schedules and conditions, and in some cases, cut pay rates.

Reuters - Analysis - Court - Disclosures - Applications

A Reuters analysis of court disclosures shows there were almost 400 applications in 2017/18 to terminate expired enterprise bargaining agreements – contracts governing wages and conditions. That’s nearly four times the number of applications from four years earlier.

Growth in the tactic coincides with a sustained period of record low wages growth in Australia, which is weighing on consumer spending and has become a battleground for the conservative government six months out from a general election.

Wage - Growth - Phenomenon - Australia - Example

Low wage growth is a global phenomenon, but Australia is an extreme example even as its A$1.8 trillion economy is in its 27th successive year of expansion.

After adjusting for inflation, Australia’s 0.4 percent annual average wage rise is far behind the United States’ 1.2 percent, South Korea’s 1.9 percent and Germany’s 0.9 percent, according to data from Statista.

Reason - Collapse - Years - Once-in-a-century - Mining

One reason is the collapse in recent years of the once-in-a-century mining boom, which spelled an end to many six-digit pay packages and annual average wage hikes of 4 percent or more.

Pay rises have more than halved and unemployment has shot up as many high-flying mine workers who once made A$200,000 ($145,000) a year with access to resort-style housing were forced to turn to low-paid day laborer jobs.

Employer - Groups - Changes - Companies - Workplaces

Employer groups say some of the changes sought by companies are needed to keep workplaces flexible and competitive, and help progress talks when unions refuse to negotiate in good faith.

Jay Scoffern, an auto-electrician in Western...
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