wage stagnation class war
(Image: Unsplash/Verne Ho)

Bill Shorten, presenting his plans to reform industrial relations to lift wages growth, told Australia's business elite this week that "getting wages moving isn't a war-cry for class warriors". Except, it should be. Wage stagnation in Australia, as in other economies, is an act of class war. It's a war started by powerful corporations and enabled by their political and media allies. 

Wages are stagnant because our industrial relations playing field is tilted in favour of employers. Workers can only bargain at the enterprise level, and even then there are a range of impediments: the right to strike has been progressively curtailed, the powers of unions restricted, and employers often hold the trump card of being able to default workers back down to sub-standard award pay and conditions.