Showing posts with label wages. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wages. Show all posts

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Can't live on the wage you bring home but can't get a raise from the boss? Here's the reasons why


In 2016 an est. 3.89 million people living in New South Wales had a personal weekly income of between $0 and $644 per week, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In Tasmania an est. 1.03 million people had way less than $573 per week.

Between March Quarter 2016 and March Quarter 2017 wages growth remained at record lows.

So this should come as no surprise……

Industrial relations lawyer Josh Bornstein writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 July 2017:

When Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe recently declared a "wages crisis" following a prolonged period of low wages growth, it appears to have caught the federal government on the hop. Quick to respond to crises about border protection, terrorism and rising energy prices, this is one crisis that renders the government mute. There is no plan, no working group, or commissioning of a white paper from the Productivity Commission. Instead, the government has announced a plan to pay up to 10,000 "interns" to work in the retail industry for as little as $4 an hour. This plan will only exacerbate the wages crisis.

Phillip Lowe is not the first prominent mandarin to observe that stagnant wages threaten economic growth. A new consensus has emerged since the Global Financial Crisis that anaemic wages growth and increased income inequality is retarding economies and stoking political volatility in developed economies. Nevertheless, Lowe is the first in Australia to join the chorus. His suggested remedy – that employees need to speak up more to request higher pay – is strikingly naive, inviting the obvious question. What if the boss says "no"?

Lowe's counterpart at the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, has offered a more sophisticated analysis of the wages crisis, focused on the transformation of the labour market. Haldane recently observed that profound changes in workplaces had produced a period of "divide and conquer" that left workers less able to bargain for higher wages. "There is power in numbers. A workforce that is more easily divided than in the past may find itself more easily conquered. In other words, a world of divisible work may reduce workers' wage-bargaining power," he said.

The collapse in bargaining power for workers that Haldane has observed is reflected in the plight of Australian trade unions, which are languishing at their weakest point in their history. Only 14.5 per cent of employees belong to a trade union. In the private sector, that number sits at a shocking 10 per cent and falling. The tipping point passed long ago. Australian trade unions are fighting for their survival. That wage growth and employee share of GDP has hit record lows is no coincidence…..

The explanation for the severity of the collapse of unionisation is far more prosaic. It's our laws. Unions have been seriously weakened by 30 years of constant political and legislative attacks. The last conservative prime minister not to establish a royal commission into trade unions was Billy McMahon (1971-1972). For decades, business lobby groups have permanently and successfully campaigned for legislative change that weakens unions.

In this era, workplace laws have been changed in two key ways. First, the laws have been deregulated to encourage employers to cut wages and de-unionise their workplaces. At the same time, unions have been subjected to complex regulation that restricts their ability to access workplaces, recruit members and to bargain for better wages and conditions. The laws have allowed employers unprecedented ability to cut labour costs, outmanoeuvre employees and their unions while at the same time inveigling unions into a kind of regulatory quicksand…..

Read the full article here.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Yet another Liberal-Nationals publicly funded program ripe for rorting by the private sector


Remember the pile on to hoover money from the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive program administered by the Tax Office and the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science or the debacle which is the Vocational Education and Training program?

Well now the Turnbull Government has decided this is great idea. What could possibly go wrong?

HuffPost, 3 April 2017:

CANBERRA – A voluntary internship program, designed to get young people eventually into work, has just been kicked off by the Turnbull Government despite widespread concern about its efficacy and potential for youth exploitation.

Under the Youth Jobs PaTH Program, an unemployed or disadvantage young person under 25 years will be paid an extra $200 a fortnight "incentive" on top of the usual income support payments to complete an internship of between four to 12 weeks….

Businesses partaking in the program will receive an upfront bonus of $1,000 for taking on an intern and get an additional $6,500 if the internship turns into a job.

The Guardian, 3 April 2017:

The Turnbull government launched its Prepare, Train and Hire (PaTH) internship program on Monday despite the legislation for its full implementation being stuck in the Senate.

Implementing the internships without legislation could cost workers up to $42 a fortnight, because the $200 a fortnight they receive for taking on work placements will count as income that reduces their other social security payments.

HuffPost, 3 July 2017:

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull trumpeted a breakthrough for his government's controversial PaTH internship program on Monday, as he unveiled a plan for 10,000 retail interns, but the businesses onboard with the plan have come under fire over previous penalties for mistreating and underpaying workers.

The PaTH plan -- Prepare, Trial, Hire -- was announced in the 2016 budget, designed as a way to get young unemployed people into job training and work experience programs, with a view to getting them off welfare and into paid employment. The job skills training is compulsory, but participating in an internship is voluntary, and completing up to 25 hours a week gives "interns" an extra $200 on top of their existing welfare payments. Businesses that take on interns would also receive thousands in financial incentives.

Unions and workers groups slammed the idea, claiming it would lead to "churn" culture where businesses would stop employing casual or part-time employees who the business itself has to pay, and instead sign up to receive a revolving door of interns who the business not only does not pay, but actually gets paid to take on.

On Monday, Turnbull joined employment minister Michaelia Cash to announce the Australian Retailers Association would "partner" with the government to offer up to 10,000 internships through the PaTH program. News Corp reported that retailers including Battery World, Coffee Club, Bright Eyes and Bakers Delight will participate in the program, but opponents have seized on the recent history of some of those businesses.

"The employers that have signed up to the Youth Path program don't have a good track record treating their workers with respect," said Labor's shadow employment minister Brendan O'Connor and shadow minister for employment services Ed Husic.

"Bakers Delight apprentices, and assistants were reimbursed almost $40,000 after the Fair Work Ombudsman found they were being underpaid. A former Coffee Club franchisee in Brisbane was fined more than $180,000 in penalties for contraventions including an unlawful cash back payment."

The Coffee Club decision was announced on the government's own Fair Work Ombudsman website just two weeks ago.

"The Turnbull Government can't explain how the Youth PaTh program won't displace jobs that could go to full-paid employees. The Government has not outlined how its agreement with retailers will stop subsidised workers from being used by some retailers to avoid paying penalty rates -- by engaging subsidised, so-called 'interns' in penalty shifts that would normally be staffed by employees," Husic and O'Connor said.

SBS News, 4 July 2017:

On Monday, Minister Cash sought to assure potential interns that they would have a decent chance of getting a job at the end of their placement…..

Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney said the program offered no path to qualification, employment or workforce protection.

"This is a government-sanctioned program that actually borders on slavery," she told reporters in Melbourne.

"If this does create new jobs, then pay the kids for the jobs. Pay them a wage. They're going to be productive. They're going to be contributing to the bottom line of these businesses."

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Quotes of the Week


"Globalisation can't be just about outsourcing and low wages"   [Jeff Immelt, Chief Executive Officer General Electric, quoted in Financial Review, 26 June 2017]

“In an appearance at the University of Chicago on Monday, former President Barack Obama unloaded a relentless barrage of complete sentences in what was widely seen as a brutal attack on his successor, Donald Trump.” [Andy Borowitz writing in The New Yorker, 24 April 2017]

“Coal India—a government-back coal company–is reportedly closing 37 of its "unviable" mines in the next year to cut back on losses.
India is primed for an energy revolution. The country's ongoing economic growth has been powered by fossil fuels in the past, making it one of the top five largest energy consumers in the world. But it has also invested heavily in renewables, and the cost of solar power is now cheaper than ever. In some instances, villages in India have avoided coal-powered electricity altogether, and "leapfrogged" straight to solar power.” [ Journalist Ankita Rao writing in Motherboard, 24 June 2017]

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Clarence Valley Council's nine elected members decline pay rise for fifth year running


Clarence Valley Council, media alert, 28 June 2017:

Councillors again decline pay rise

FOR the fifth year running, Clarence Valley councillors have declined to give themselves a pay rise.

At their meeting in Maclean last night, councillors voted unanimously not to accept increases allowed under the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal guidelines. Councillors have not
accepted any increase since 2013/14.

Councillors will continue to receive $17,490 a year while the maximum allowable under the guidelines for a regional rural council, such as the Clarence Valley Council, is $19,310.

Under the remuneration schedule adopted by council last night, the mayor will receive an additional $35,525 (maximum allowable under the guidelines is $38,880) and the deputy mayor will receive an additional $2935 (maximum allowable $3240). The deputy mayor’s allowance is deducted from the mayoral allowance.

The motion not to accept the allowable increase was moved by the deputy mayor, Cr Jason Kingsley, and supported by all colleagues present (Cr Arthur Lysaught was an apology for the
meeting).

The mayor, Cr Jim Simmons, said the amounts were not large, but it was important for councillors to show restraint when the organisation was looking to improve its financial position.

Release ends

Friday, 23 June 2017

Members of Australian Parliament receive third pay rise in four years raising base salary to $203,020 per annum


The 226 members of the House of Representatives and Senate will receive a base salary which is almost six times higher than the June 2017 full-time minimum wage – commencing on 1 July 2017.

Excerpts from Remuneration Tribunal 2017 Review of Remuneration for Holders of Public Office Statement, 22 June 2017:

The Tribunal has decided to increase remuneration by 2 per cent for public offices in its jurisdiction, with effect from 1 July 2017…….


In conducting its annual review of remuneration, the Tribunal takes account of economic conditions in Australia, past and projected movements in remuneration in the private and public sectors (including the APS), as well as the outcomes of reviews of public offices completed by the Tribunal. In order to inform its conclusions the Tribunal draws upon authoritative external sources such as the published material available from the Government, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) as well as trends in public and private sector remuneration. It is obliged by its legislation also to consider the Annual Wage Reviews of the Fair Work Commission.

Adjustments arising from the Tribunal’s annual review generally apply to the broad spectrum of offices in the Tribunal’s determinative jurisdiction including the most senior offices in the public service and statutory agencies, certain government-owned businesses, Secretaries, numerous part-time offices and the federal judiciary, as well as parliamentarians. Ordinary annual adjustments in remuneration of this kind recognise the achievement of ongoing objectives and the steady evolution in responsibility that is characteristic of public administration.

The Tribunal considers it important that remuneration for offices in its jurisdiction be maintained at appropriate levels over the longer term to attract and retain people of the calibre required for these important high level offices. The Tribunal is conservative in its approach to annual increases and in this case is conscious of the Government’s policy of wage restraint for the APS and non- APS government agencies. Ideally, the Tribunal is concerned to avoid, in the future, any need for significant one-off increases to restore proper relativities and to recognise fully ongoing changes in work requirements…..

The Tribunal sets remuneration for a range of offices that sit at the forefront of the private/public sector ‘divide’. Heads of agencies, members of boards and technical/professional specialists often straddle roles between both sectors. Many of these office holders do not expect or require that monetary compensation be set at private sector levels.

Rather in the true sense of the phrase ‘public service’, office holders serve for the public good. This means that in setting remuneration the Tribunal has traditionally set rates below those of the private sector.

Nonetheless over the past year there has been a notable increase in submissions to the Tribunal seeking higher remuneration for offices and individual office holders based at least in part on private sector remuneration.

As well as achieving an appropriate balance in the assessment of both private and public sector wage movements, the Tribunal must make its assessment of wages and other economic considerations based not just on past experience but also on predictions of future movements. The Tribunal is also conscious of the Government’s policy of wage restraint applying to APS and non-APS agencies. Ultimately the Tribunal has decided to set its general increase at 2 per cent…..

This wage increase translates into the following figures.

The Australian, 22 June 2017:

The rise will push ordinary members of parliament up by just under $4000 to $203,020 per annum.
The Prime Minister will get a $10,350 pay rise from $517,504 a year to $527,854
Cabinet ministers, currently paid a base salary of $343,344, will get nearly $7000 extra and will now be paid $350,210 a year.
Shadow ministers, on $248,800 per year, will get bumped up to $253,776 a year.

MPs and senators had already been granted additional taxpayer-funded support staff six months ago.

The Australian, 20 December 2016:

Taxpayers will fork out an extra $35.8 million over the next four years for federal politicians to ­employ 33 additional staff, adding to more than 1500 people already employed by MPs.

The allocation will see the extra full-time positions divided ­between the Coalition, Labor, the Greens and crossbench MPs, and also provide for some existing roles to be reclassified, costing $9.1m annually from 2017-18.

The mid-year budget review says $35.8m will “allow parliamentarians to more effectively manage their workload and represent the interest of their constituents”.

The total number of personal staff employed by government MPs is 448, including 401 for the 30 ministers and 25 for the 12 parliamentary secretaries, who are called assistant ministers.

Eight staff work for government whips and a further 14 have other roles.

The opposition employs 101 personal staff; 37 are allocated to the Leader of the Opposition, and six to opposition whips. The Greens have 17 personal staff. Each of the 15 crossbench MPs and senators have been allocated an extra three staff. In addition, there are almost 1000 staffers working in electorate offices, with the 226 MPs and ­senators entitled to four workers each.

Department of Finance documents show the number of staff classified as senior advisers ­jumped from 61 in February last year to 101 last month. In the same ­period, the total staff in lower-paid positions fell by eight.

Government staff are paid ­between $48,000 annually for an entry-level electorate staffer to $245,000 for a senior adviser, plus allowances of up to $30,000 a year.

The staff have just signed a new enterprise bargaining agreement that locks in salary and allowance increases of 2 per cent a year for the next three years.


Sunday, 30 April 2017

Women are still the majority of the low paid workers in Australia - a fact that is conveniently ignored by government


The Australian Taxation Office publishes a range of statistics which, despite the time lag, state and federal governments and their agencies rely on for a financial profile of the nation.

This April the data release covers the financial year 2014-15.

Table 3: Individuals – selected income items, 2013–14 to 2014–15 income years 
Income item
2013–14
2014–15

Individuals (no.)
Average ($)
Median ($)
Individuals (no.)
Average ($)
Median ($)
Salary or wages
10,304,687
56,689
46,656
10,469,919
57,576
47,502
Gross interest
7,335,773
1,821
162
7,659,362
1,622
138
Dividends – franked amount
2,861,982
7,971
506
2,849,504
7,776
549
Dividends – franking credit
2,855,343
3,422
218
2,843,250
3,338
237
Allowances, earnings, tips, director's fees etc
2,297,379
3,801
463
2,344,140
3,778
453
Net rent
2,033,973
−1,828
−1,675
2,077,235
−1,749
−1,624
Net non-primary production amount
1,748,849
28,993
5,122
1,786,937
28,582
4,927
Net income or loss from business – non-primary production transferred from item P8
1,078,383
26,269
12,095
1,122,260
26,192
12,221
Dividends – unfranked amount
1,060,280
887
78
1,064,264
942
84
Australian Government allowances and payments like Newstart, Youth Allowance and Austudy payment
922,538
5,664
4,942
966,709
5,906
5,178
Australian Government pensions and allowances
645,097
10,127
10,250
676,083
10,318
10,368
Net capital gain
609,678
23,585
1,901
672,484
25,944
2,137
Total income or loss
12,964,285
59,851
44,697
13,213,814
60,714
45,471
Note Total income or loss: components do not add to the total number of taxpayers because taxpayers may declare more than one type of income. Some components of total income are not listed in this table. The count, average and median for total income or loss are calculated including zeroes.

Whichever way one looks at salary/wage line in this table it clearly shows that ordinary Australian workers are not doing well, with half having annual incomes below $47,502. That's 5.1 million people earning far less than the $195,130 base salary enjoyed by 
members of the Turnbull Government who are even now looking for ways to reduce the takehome pay of such workers. 

Of the 13.21 million individuals who lodged a tax return in 2015, 6.85 million were males and 6.35 million were females. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2013-14 there were also an est. 1.22 million people of working age lived alone with a significant number of these individuals having incomes below the median annual salary/wage, so it is likely that a similar situation existed in 2014-15.

If one divides the ATO tax returns by gender it is not hard to see that more women than men would be found in the group earning less than $47,502.

This is not just a passing phase in wages growth – women have consistently been on the bottom of the wage ladder this century. This despite the fact that they are better educated now than in centuries past and so many are in paid employment.

The Guardian helpfully published a breakdown on 18 April 2017 from which I selected three graphs to illustrate the point:


In the article Greg Jericho concluded: Women made up 45% of all people earning a taxable income in 2014-15, and yet they accounted for just 25% of those in the richest 10% but 57% of those in the poorest decile……It goes without saying that if you earn a large income you are more likely to be a man and if you earn a small income you are most likely to be a woman – and it really does not matter what your job is.

The Australian Government Workplace and Gender Equality Agency stated in August 2016:

The full-time average weekly ordinary earnings for women are 16.2% less than for men.
Among non-public sector organisations with 100 or more employees, the gender pay gap for full-time annualised base salary is 19.1%, and for full-time annualised total remuneration is 24.0%.
The full-time average hourly earnings for women are 13.9% less than men's full-time average hourly earnings.
The gender pay gap in ASX 200 organisations is 28.7%.
Average graduate salaries for women are 9.4% less than for men. When factors such as personal characteristics, occupation, industry and education are accounted for, average graduate salaries for women are 4.4% less than for men.
Average superannuation balances for women at retirement are 52.8% less than those for men.
Of people aged 65 years and older receiving the aged pension, 55.6% are women.

This agency also pointed out that:

Of all women aged 20-24, 90.1% have attained year 12 qualifications or above, compared to 86.3% of men in the same age bracket.
Of all women aged 25-29, 39.6% have achieved a bachelor degree or above, compared to 30.4% of men of the same age bracket.
A slightly higher proportion of men (6.1%) aged 15-74 years attained a postgraduate degree than women (5.7%) of the same age bracket.

The reality is that women have never enjoyed equal pay across all industries and occupations and the national economy relies on them supplying cheaper labour.

So the next time your local MP tells you that he or she understands how "middle Australia" is feeling or attempts to position their family there – openly scoff at such a nonsensical viewpoint.

If your MP tells you that he/she supports the right to equal pay - walk away whilst raising a middle finger in disgust.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Fair Work Commission 2017 Minimum Wage Review - heads workers lose, tails workers lose?


Fair Work Commission (FWC) website 10 April 2017:       

Every year an Expert Panel of the Fair Work Commission must review modern award minimum wages, and set a national minimum wage order for employees not covered by enterprise agreements or modern awards.
Each national minimum wage order made in an annual wage review comes into operation on 1 July in the next financial year, and continues in operation until the next national minimum wage order comes into operation.

The minimum wage hourly rate currently stands at $17.70 – and yes, we all probably know of an adult who is not even receiving this.

The  FWC Annual Wage Review 2016-17 (C2017/l) is being conducted by:
JUSTICE ROSS, PRESIDENT
VICE PRESIDENT HATCHER
DEPUTY PRESIDENT ASBURY
COMMISSIONER HAMPTON
MR COLE
PROFESSOR RICHARDSON
MR GIBBS,
MELBOURNE, 7 APRIL 2017

The 2017 final minimum wage decision will be handed down in sometime in June coming into effect on 1 July.

Here is the preliminary hearing dealing with transitional instruments and relevant to annual wage reviews and existing arrangements for employees with disability DECISION.

Shorter version of this decision is:

go away little low-skilled people and don’t expect a minimum wage rise larger than that which we gave you in 2013, 2014, 2015 or 2016 - if you are lucky it will be somewhere between 41-50 cents an hour for an estimated 196,300 low-paid workers;

as for workers with a significant disability - too hard, we’ll pass the buck.

Of course if Justice Iain Ross, Adam Hatcher et al listen to the business sector this year then these 196,300 workers will only receive about a 20 cents an hour increase.

Tossing a silver coin in the air right now……….