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Home > News > 2019 > March > Government presides over biggest drop in living standards in 30 years

Government presides over biggest drop in living standards in 30 years

180220-TSC-ACTU31303.jpgAustralian living standards have fallen rapidly in the past three years, plunging in the biggest drop in more than 30 years.


The crisis has been driven by ‘anaemic’ wage growth and a widening income gap between workers and the privileged elite, according to a damning report released by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).


The Inequality in Australia report found workers were struggling to make ends meet as wages stagnated and cost of living expenses soared.


While workers’ productivity had increased substantially in recent decades, the same could not be said for wages which have been moving at a ‘glacial’ pace.


ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said that Australian workers need fair pay and secure jobs so that living standards can be maintained.


“Right now people are struggling to maintain their living standards while corporations make bumper profits and CEOs take sickeningly large salaries and bonuses,” Ms McManus said.


“The Morrison Government has overseen multinationals and the very wealthy taking more than their fair share of the nation’s wealth at the expense of the living standards of millions of working people.”


Ms McManus said the Coalition government is creating an American-style economy of dead-end jobs, poverty pay levels, no job security, long working hours, no holidays and no safety net for the disadvantaged.


In 2018 the average ASX200 CEO was paid the median yearly wage for a worker every 4.6 days. Meanwhile workers have borne the brunt of the slowest wage growth since World War II.


Poor wage growth is becoming such a concern that recently 120 labour market experts signed an open letter urging governments to boost wages through policy decisions.


“The Morrison Government has no plan to end this crisis, only more of the same failed policies which have led us to this point. More money for the big end of town while working people struggle to pay their bills,” Ms McManus said.


Key findings

The report highlighted a number of inequities facing Australian workers:


Wage inequality: has expanded significantly as average real wage growth has stalled and workers have not reaped benefits from increased labour productivity.


Incomes inequality: ABS data revealed that the top 20% of income distribution receive nearly half of Australia’s gross income. 


Wealth inequality: Over 60% of Australia’s net worth is held by those in the highest wealth bracket, while those in the lowest hold just 1%.


Inequality between capital and labour: Labour’s share of income is near a 50 year low.


Occupational social mobility: Children in families on the lowest income bracket have little chance of moving upward. Almost half the children of manual workers remain manual workers, with only 12% going into managerial positions.


Time to Change The Rules

The report findings clearly show Australia is no longer a place where everyone gets a fair go.


Fairer industrial laws and enhanced bargaining power for workers are critical to improving wages and conditions.


Unions’ national Change The Rules campaign is a driving force to restore fairness in workplaces and improve living standard.


The campaign aims to:

  • Restore balance to workplace negotiations
  • Invest in schools and hospitals
  • Create secure jobs
  • Curb excessive corporate power
  • Ensure big business and the very rich pay their fair share of tax

To read a copy of the ACTU report visit https://www.actu.org.au/media/1385450/actu_inequality_briefing.pdf


To support the Change The Rules campaign, visit www.changetherules.org.au

Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.