Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe

Nearly 100 workers at Note Printing Australia (NPA) in Craigieburn, which is owned by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), were locked out by their employer on August 10.

The workers have been campaigning for a wage rise of 3.5%. Their demand is in line with the appeal made by RBA Governor Philip Lowe to federal parliament in February, when he said that a generalised wage rise of 3.5% would help stimulate economic activity.

How bad are things today when even the head of the Reserve Bank of Australia agrees workers are feeling too insecure to demand wage rises.

Speaking at the Australian National University on June 19, Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe said: “People value security and one way you can get a bit more security is to not demand a wage rise.” Although his argument was about the impact on economic growth, it highlights the level of insecurity felt by workers today.

Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe has called on workers to start demanding pay rises.

Lowe said on June 19 Australia’s economy is suffering a “crisis” in wage growth and the relatively low unemployment rate means workers should start asking for a larger share of the nation’s economic pie.

His call comes as data shows the share of national income going to workers has fallen to a 50 year low and the underemployment rate, where workers want to work more hours, rose to 8.8%.

Underemployment has now risen for the past six consecutive quarters.

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