26 November 2019

A survey of corporate executives by Herbert Smith Freehills — an aggressive bosses’ law firm — shows they are gearing up to resist both traditional union activity and “unpredictable forms of worker activism, amplified and co-ordinated through digital communication”. According to The Australian’s summary of the report [$], “Companies were asked what percentage impact they believed workforce activism might have on their global annual revenues, and the responses ranged from 17 per cent to 25 per cent. More than 80 per cent expected to see a rise in activism among both employees and casual ­workers and almost four out of 10 thought the increase would be significant.” Helpfully, the executives have provided a list of planned corporate chicanery they expect workers will resist: “Executives said the main triggers for increased activism by Australian workers in the next five years would be automation, diversity, company surveillance and monitoring of workers, pay and benefits, and corporate strategy. More than half the companies said the gap between executive pay and employee wages, fuelled by years of stagnating wages, would be a trigger for activism. An estimated 47 per cent of Australian businesses, compared with 37 per cent globally, expected employees to increasingly protest against the actions or decisions of companies that they felt were not in keeping with the organisation’s mission statement.”