New Business Council research shows that workplace reforms are critical to ensuring we recover from the pandemic with good jobs and higher wages, Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.
Releasing the State of enterprise bargaining in Australia report, Ms Westacott said the research revealed that the enterprise bargaining system that has historically delivered higher wages and better conditions is at its lowest level in 22 years.
“The number of new private sector agreements has fallen 63 per cent compared to 2008/09.
“This is a disaster for Australians because the enterprise bargaining system has made Australia better off with higher wages, more job creation and the capacity to adapt to rapid change.
“Workers on EBAs get paid more – on average, a worker on an EBA is $100 better off for each full day of work.
“Modest workplace changes before the parliament go to the heart of the problems that stymie new agreements and mean workers can’t lock in higher wages and employers can’t create new jobs.
“But we’re already seeing a return to the typical ‘us and them’ mentality that kills reform and leaves everyone worse off.
“Workers and employers have a mutual interest in seeing a business do well. When businesses are successful and growing, it benefits everyone.
“We have a choice to work together or face being trapped in a cycle of continuous bickering that does nothing to create more jobs, grow the economy or deliver for future generations.
“If we fail to make these important changes to the system, we risk condemning Australia to the slow lane and missing out on opportunities.
“The system is hamstrung by technicalities and complexities. It is in danger of collapse.
“These changes would put the ambition back in agreement making, restoring the BOOT to the original spirit and intent that Hawke and Keating envisaged.
“The reforms also end the situation where some workers have missed out on pay rises for years because the drawn-out process of agreements forces people to give up, walk away and fall back on lower paid awards.
“We have to make EBAs once again a genuine alternative to awards. We have to get back on the path of achieving the higher wages, strong productivity and jobs growth Australia enjoyed in the 1990s and 2000s.
“The current system doesn’t work for modern workers and it doesn’t work for modern businesses.
“We can make this process work again but only if we choose to put the interests of all Australians ahead the old political fights that have held back us back for a decade.
“Parliament has an opportunity to stop the decline of enterprise bargaining and put Australians in a position to earn more again.
“The stakes are too high to miss out on this chance for reform.”