Workers in the private sector could be up to $2000 worse off over three years under changes to industrial law being pursued by big business.
Research from The Australia Institute’s Centre For Future Work has analysed the effect of employer proposals to change workplace rules.
The study was based on the experience of enterprise agreements during the WorkChoices era between 2006 and 2009.
It predicted a similar resurgence of non-union enterprise agreements if proposals like changing the “better off overall test” and relaxing guarantees that workers have accepted pay deals.
Centre For Future Work senior economist Alison Pennington also took into account a proposal to have pay agreements lasting for the life of a project.
Pennington found a slowdown in average wage growth across all private sector enterprise agreements of at least 0.4 percentage points if the changes are implemented.
“The cumulative loss in income through that initial three-year period exceeds $2000,” her report said.
“Individual and aggregate income losses would compound over time, as the slower rate of wage growth continues to undercut earnings.”
The study noted just 11 per cent of private sector workers are currently covered by an enterprise agreement, with only 46 negotiated in 2018.
“This business-friendly industrial relations agenda will just be another nail in the coffin for collective bargaining in Australia,” Pennington said.
“Employers are working to build a collective bargaining system, that has little room for any actual bargaining. It would be dominated by employers with power to unilaterally set the terms and conditions of work.”