Enterprise bargaining is the only way that workers and their unions can legally seek wage increases. Since the system was first introduced by a federal Labor government in 1993, it has achieved its deliberate, but unstated, aim of lowering aggregate wages and increasing profits.
More than 1000 people rallied in Wollongong on September 19 to demand the federal government take action to save jobs at the Port Kembla steelworks.
Bluescope has announced it aims to cut $200 million from its operating budget and intends to sack 500 workers in the short term, with a possibility that thousands more jobs will go in the future.
This is despite BlueScope posting a $134 million profit for the last financial year.
Unions have launched a campaign to save the steelworks and emergency talks have been held between government ministers, unions and Bluescope management.