Bank warns workers will move on if wages don’t increase

Incidents of industrial action in Australia are now now at their highest level in three years, but are not yet strong enough to lift overall wages, according to the ANZ.

Dec 09, 2021, updated Dec 10, 2021
Workers could start to wield their power in the new year

Workers could start to wield their power in the new year

However, the bank said it expected workers would soon “wield their newfound power” in a very competitive job market by asking for higher wages or better jobs.

“In fact, we may already be in the early stages of a ‘great resignation’,” the bank said.

Unpublished data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed a rising number of workers were already leaving for a better job or because they wanted a change, even during the latest lockdowns

Australia has experienced some significant industrial action in recent months including on the nation’s wharves, at FedEx and Toll, Sydney’s bus and train drivers also walked off the job and aged care workers are currently threatening action.

“In our view, industrial action would need to rise sharply to well above levels of the past 15 years to have much influence on wages growth. Given the restrictions on industrial action in Australia, this seems unlikely,” ANZ said.

Under current industrial laws, strikes are only allowed during the bargaining period for enterprise agreements and even then, there are several restrictions.

In the September quarter, there were 50 disputes but the total number was still below the 15-year average. The number of working days lost due to disputes was about half the long-run average.

The bank said enterprise agreements were much slower at responding to market conditions than individual agreements because their time frame was usually over three years.

“We are forecasting wages growth to accelerate through next year, reaching around 3 per cent year-on-year in the second half, in part due to workers exercising their increased bargaining power,” the bank said.






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