Real estate magnate Tim Gurner has stirred the pot with his recent comments at The Australian Financial Review's Property Summit. As the chief executive of the high-end construction firm, Gurner Group, he has a significant stake in the Australian property market.
But his perspective on the nation's employment landscape has some up in arms.
A Shift in Employment Dynamics
Gurner posits that construction workers are "paid not to do much," attributing this to a significant shift in the power dynamics between employers and employees. "There's been a systematic change where employees feel the employer is extremely lucky to have them," he stated.
This perceived imbalance, Gurner believes, is having a knock-on effect on Australia's housing market. Alongside stricter regulations, it is aggravating the housing shortage issue that plagues many of the country's cities. His solution? A shocking call for an increase in the country's unemployment rate by 40-50%.
This bold proposition would mean over 200,000 individuals would find themselves without work. "In my opinion, we have to see pain in the economy," Gurner explained. His reasoning is that this would reduce the "arrogance in the employment market".
Property developer and CEO Tim Gurner: "We need to see unemployment rise. Unemployment has to jump 40, 50 percent in my view. We need to see pain in the economy. We need to remind people that they work for the employer, not the other way around." pic.twitter.com/la3ibCDCsp — Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) September 12, 2023
Reactions and Repercussions
Such a controversial stance has naturally drawn significant backlash.
US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pointedly remarked on the wage gap issue. "Reminder that major CEOs have skyrocketed their own pay so much that the ratio of CEO-to-worker pay is now at some of the highest levels ever recorded," she opined on social media.
However, not everyone is against Gurner's perspective. Andrew Michelmore, chairman of the Minerals Council of Australia, echoed Gurner's sentiments. "Employees have got used to earning the same amount of money but not putting in the same hours," Michelmore observed.
Yet, some critics vehemently oppose Gurner's views, considering them reckless. Australian Medical Association's president, Steve Robson, went as far as to term Gurner's unemployment suggestions "breathtakingly irresponsible".
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