Media Releases

Multi-employer bargaining for small business, key to skills shortage

October 28, 2022

Multi-employer bargaining is the key to making low-wage sectors competitive with the rest of the economy.

Yesterday Industrial Relations Minister Tony Burke announced the details of the government's new 'Secure Jobs, Better Pay' Bill, detailing the ability for additional bargaining 'streams'.

Many small businesses have lacked the internal capacity to bargain in the same way as large employers. This has left many small businesses unable to compete in the tight labour market.

"We're seeing a tight labour market, and many employers are reporting skills shortages multi-employer pay agreements can simplify the pay negotiation process for small businesses, providing the consistency and security workers within an industry need to train and remain in a sector," said SA Unions Secretary, Dale Beasley.

Ahead of the Jobs & Skills Summit the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia and the HVAC Manufacturing and Installation Employer Group came out supporting multi-employer bargaining, saying it would stop the "race to the bottom."

"The days of a 'race to the bottom' on wages are numbered, and small businesses are seeing this as an opportunity to fight for the future of their industry," said Dale Beasley.

In September Early Childhood educators walked off the job to highlight that the future of their industry hung in the balance, as more educators were leaving the profession than were entering it. For many of the educators, this was with the support of their centres.

"Large employers have always been able to bargain, multi-employer bargaining levels the playing field for small business, and traditionally low-wage industries.”