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PIAA slams ACTU plan for wage reform

Thursday, 12 April 2018
By Print 21 Online Article

‘Work with industry to fix the system, not destroy it’: Andrew Macaulay, CEO PIAA.

Printing Industries says a proposal by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) to lift wages and reform industrial relations is a bid to expose Australian small business to “the law of the jungle.”

“ACTU Secretary Sally McManus has been explicit; unions want to return Australia to the dark days of 1970s industry-wide strikes,” says PIAA CEO Andrew Macaulay.

“The statements from ACTU walk away from an enterprise bargaining system that ushered in one of the great periods of prosperity, opportunity and middle class growth in Australia’s history and helped deliver 26 years of continuous economic growth,” Macaulay says. “The majority of the print and packaging sector are SMEs, and enterprise bargaining has enabled agility. Business is not willing to throw this away.”

‘Working people need a seat at the table’: Sally McManus, ACTU.

The ACTU says its six-point “Change the Rules” proposal is aimed at improving wages and reforming industrial relations laws to allow sector-wide bargaining. Figures released in August 2017 show wages grew by a record low 1.9% over the past year.

The union plan includes lifting the minimum wage, reversing penalty rate cuts, strengthening action against wage theft by employers, increasing the legal right to pursue rates of pay and condition claims at the Fair Work Commission, and establishing an equity panel to achieve equal pay for women.

“The ACTU calls this a blueprint to give Australia a pay rise but it is actually a blueprint to stalling employment, for strikes and increased union power at the expense of jobs,” says Macaulay. “Unless wage increases are affordable one person’s pay rise will cost another person their job. There are practical problems in the enterprise bargaining system that need to be fixed and we call on responsible unions to work with industry to fix the system, not destroy it.”

PIAA industrial relations manager Paul Mitchell says the association will lobby strongly to defend small business against the ACTU proposals.

“Industry and unions have operated in a period of mutual harmony for close to 40 years. Sure, there are disagreements at times, but nothing like what Australia experienced during the 1960’s and 1970’s. The ACTU’s Sally McManus’ language is dangerous as it threatens to go backwards to this era.

“The last thing Australian businesses want and the printing and packaging industries needs is union coordinated strike action,” says Mitchell. “Our nation’s prosperity is founded on the principles of hard work, reward for effort, respect in the workplace and a fair go for all. PIAA will continue to fight for these principles which have been the bedrock of Australia’s workplace relations system.”

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