Some Hard Facts About The Australian Workplace

18:10' 06-12-2017
The news often reports on debates about wages, superannuation, union activity and many other work-related issues. It can be hard to pick out the facts from the opinions.


    Van Badham, vice president of media and entertainment union MEAA and a columnist for the newspaper Guardian, worked with an economist from the Centre for Future Work, Dr Jim Stanford, to prepare a quiz for people to test their knowledge.

    At the present time, these are the facts about the workplace in “the lucky country”.

    • Only 46% of the labour force has a permanent, full-time job with regular leave entitlements. The rest is subcontracted or casual labour.

    • Less than half of Australia’s total economic output (GDP) is paid to workers in wages, salaries and super contributions, compared to 57% in the 1970s. Private corporate sector wages have increased by 10%.

    • Corporate profits in the June quarter of 2017 were up 17% compared to a year ago. In that same time, total payment of wages, salaries, and super contributions grew by only 2%.

    • The gender pay gap, between men's and women's salaries, is about 16%, but this is based on full-time jobs. If all jobs are included, the gap is 33%, less than $472 per week.

    • Some financial advisers suggest you need $1 million in super for secure retirement. However, the typical median balance for people aged 60-64 is only $60,000.

    • Union members earn 21% more than non-union members.

    • In 2016, industrial disputes caused a loss of only 0.005% of total working time. Strikes are only legal if a union applies to a tribunal for permission, when negotiations with an employer are at a standstill. They require the support of at least 50% of the membership in a public vote, and three days notice to the employer (who can apply to the tribunal to stop the strike).

    • If you take part in an illegal strike, the government can fine you up to $12,600 for every contravention of an order issued by the Fair Work Commission. Illegal strikes include political strikes (protesting against laws that affect rights or living standards), sympathy strikes (where workers in one industry support workers in another), wildcat strikes (walking off the job to protest an immediate situation, like an incident of sexual harassment or violence), and industrial strikes against the use of casual or contract labour.

    • In the OECD ranking of 45 countries according to the strength of their employment protection laws, Australia ranks 38th. This is alongside Chad and the Republic of Congo, and below Albania and Angola.

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Keywords: australian workplacecentre for future worksuperannuation

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