Of course, the gas companies profiting from the war do not want to give more power to the workers.

Gasworks in Western Australia

Photo by Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Australian government is facing a swarm of opposition as it tries to push through a massive 249-page industrial relations bill that would allow workers at different companies to collectively bargain for better pay.

Now the bosses of some of Australia’s wealthiest mining, coal and gas companies say they will launch a “multi-million dollar” advertising campaign to stop them.

The threat was leveled at the Labor government on Tuesday, adding to growing unrest among central bankers in both Houses of Parliament as Labor Relations Minister Tony Burke continues to press ahead hoping to do so by the end of this year.

If successful, the bill would make a host of changes to Australian labor law and give workers – and their unions – significantly greater bargaining power.

Among the most controversial elements of the bill is the introduction of multi-employer bargaining, which would offer workers in the lowest paid sectors – such as childcare and cleaning – to bargain together across the sector, instead of having negotiations closed by their bosses.

This possibility has outraged all sorts of bosses, including those who sit at the top of some of the most profitable companies operating in Australia.

In the resource sector, where last year’s profits run into the tens of billions, anger at the prospect of handing over more power to workers is “white-hot”. Steve Knott, chief executive of the Australian Resources and Energy Employer Association, said unless the government made “substantial” changes to the bill, some of the sector’s biggest employers would launch a multimillion-dollar campaign against him.

“It would be like the mining tax campaign but on steroids,” Knott said The Australianreferring to the $20 million industry-led campaign in opposition to the Resource Super Profits Tax in 2010, which ultimately left former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s government in shambles.

At the center of most of the backlash to the bill are claims that, if passed, Australia would descend into the chaos wrought by strikes last seen across the country in the 1970s. It’s a line heavily trodden, often heard by Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, as well as the various industry and lobby groups who have taken the same position.

But plenty of research suggests the opposite may be true. Chris F. Wright, an industrial relations specialist and associate professor at the University of Sydney, says Denmark is proposing as a useful case study.

There, where almost two-thirds of the population are unionized and even more covered by collective agreements concluded on the basis that the Australian Labor government is trying to introduce, strikes are rare, the unemployment rate is lower than in Australia and “excessive unemployment rates” Wage growth is nowhere to be found.

In Australia, wages have remained stagnant for most of the past decade, while inflation September quarter rose to 7.3%.

“Multi-employer bargaining systems have many other advantages,” he wrote on Twitter. “They can help tackle gender pay inequalities – according to OECD multi-employer agreements, they are ‘necessary to negotiate targeted increases in female-dominated and low-wage sectors’.”

“Multi-employer bargaining is also more effective in addressing skills shortages because it encourages employers to cooperate on training, rather than poaching skilled workers from each other. [which is common in Australia],” he said.

But multi-employer bargaining is only part of the bill, and members of the Senate, who will have the final say on whether the bill passes, argue that the government is trying to rush the bill into the two rooms without worrying about what is not intentional. consequences that this could entail.

In order to get the bill through, Labor will need the support of the Greens in the Senate, as well as at least one more independent member of the central bank in just three weeks.

So far, One Nation has adamantly opposed the bill, while the Jacqui Lambie Network has reservations about the impact it could have on small businesses still recovering from the worst of the pandemic, and Senator David Pocock is asking the government to split the bill, so parts of them can pass before Christmas, and others can take longer to consider.

The government, however, has shown no signs of slowing down. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese argued earlier in the week that there had already been considerable consultation on the changes and that his government would “consider practical changes” but would not stop for delays.

The message was repeated firmly by Burke later on Tuesday. Appearing on the ABC Afternoon briefing On Tuesday, he said he did not want workers suffering from stagnant wages to wait “one more day than necessary”, before hitting back at Knott for threatening to launch a campaign against the government bill.

“People have been waiting for 10 years without their salaries moving, and I don’t want to continue this delay. Let’s not pretend we don’t have an emergency level here…wages right now in Australia [are] running at 2.6%, and inflation [is] operating at 7.3%,” Burke said.

“A $20 million campaign is not going to stop this government’s determination to move wages,” he said.

“If they think they can just buy ad space and we suddenly turn a blind eye to households where wages don’t keep up with living standards, then they just don’t understand what’s going on around every kitchen table in Australia.”

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Denise W. Whigham