Large numbers of retail employees covered by agreements approved in the second half of last year face wage freezes if employers succeed in their campaign for a coronavirus-driven pause in minimum pay rises such as that adopted during the GFC, new Attorney-General's Department data on bargained wage rises reveals.
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Bargained wage rises in the private sector dropped to 2.7% a year in the September quarter, according to newly-released Attorney-General's Department data that also shows some large retail employers are starting to tie increases to the FWC's annual review.
The "largely invisible" non-union agreements stream that has been a distinguishing feature of Australia's IR system for more than 25 years has been all but ignored in public and academic debates over the past decade, according to leading researchers.
Union calls for a return to industry-wide bargaining to boost workers' earnings have won the backing of the OECD, which says in its annual global employment report that negotiations across industry sectors can lead to "lower wage inequality".
In a development that might fuel debate over the links between union power and wage rises, substantially above-average pay increases secured in the heavily-unionised construction sector have pushed bargained private sector wage rises off their recent historic low.