unions wage stagnation

This is no Accord, ABC's framing leaves a lot to be desired, and the Church of Scientology wants you. Catch up with all the latest Tips and Murmurs from the Crikey bunker.

Having a good crisis

Despite the coverage, Prime Minister Scott Morrison's "peace in our timesheets" speech on industrial relations is not a return to the Accord. Here are a few material differences:

  • Union density in the early 1980s was almost 50%. Today it's less than 15%.
  • In the 1970s there were an average of 2368 industrial disputes a year (losing 542 days every 1000 workers), and in the 1980s it was 1919 (losing 312 days). In the 2010s (as of 2018) the average was down to 198 and the days lost per thousand workers was 14.
  • Since 2006 there have been strict restrictions on when a workforce can legally strike, and the Fair Work Commission retains incredible discretion to prevent industrial action.
  • Some number-crunching of ABS stats from Bernard Keane (download here) tells us the average GDP per hour worked -- the broadest indicator of labour productivity -- was 0.5% per quarter between 1980 and 1985. Under the Coalition it has been 0.2%.

Given the union movement's decidedly rubbish hand at the moment, employer groups would be forgiven for thinking they were going to get a good deal out of all this "put your weapons down" talk.