Millionaire CEO Leads Call To ‘Kill Attitude’ of Workers Empowered by COVID


SEPTEMBER 13, 2023

A stock image of covid-era office worker. Tim Gurner said he wanted unemployment to rise in Australia. – Getty Images

A millionaire CEO wants to “kill” the attitude of workers he believes have been empowered by changes made to work following the COVID lockdowns.

Australian luxury property developer Tim Gurner’s comments at The Australia Financial Review Property Summit on Tuesday went viral on social media.

Gurner, who previously sparked criticism when he said millennials should stop buying avocado toast in order to afford homes, hit out at the changes in work culture in recent years.

He said: “I think the problem that we’ve had is that people decided they didn’t really want to work so much anymore through COVID and that has had a massive issue on productivity.

“Tradies [tradesmen] have definitely pulled back on productivity. They have been paid a lot to do not too much in the last few years and we need to see that change.”

“We need to see unemployment rise. Unemployment has to jump by 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. There’s been a systematic change where employees feel the employer is extremely lucky to have them as opposed to the other way around.”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the country’s unemployment rate remained at 3.6 percent in July this year and employment increased by 2.9 percent on last year.

Unemployment in Australia reached a peak in recent years of 7.5 percent in June 2020, a year defined by COVID-19, but sharply decreased to below pandemic levels, which averaged between 5 percent to 6.4 percent by March 2022.

The average monthly hours worked in all jobs increased from June to July this year, from 1,950 million to 1,956 million respectively.

In comparison, in the U.S., which has a population more than 13 times the size of Australia, unemployment has decreased since the height of the COVID pandemic—although it has increased between July and August this year.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate rose by 0.3 percent to 3.8 percent in August and the number of unemployed people increased by 514,000 to 6.4 million.

Gurner continued: “So, it’s a dynamic that has to change. We’ve got to kill that attitude and that has to come through hurting the economy, which is what the whole global… the world is trying to do.

“The governments around the world are trying to increase unemployment to get that to some sort of normality and we’re seeing it. I think every employer now is seeing it. I mean there is definitely massive layoffs going off.

“People might not be talking about it but people are definitely laying people off and we’re starting to see less arrogance in the employment market, that has to continue because that will cascade across the cost balance.

Since being shared on the Financial Review’s account on X, formerly known as Twitter, on September 12 the clip has been viewed more than 15.3 million times.

Gurner’s comments attracted significant criticism online, including from New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The Democrat tweeted: “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.”

Newsweek also found many other accounts on X expressing outrage or disbelief at Gurner’s comments.

But his comments were met with agreement from the Minerals Council of Australia chairman Andrew Michelmore.

He told The Australian Financial Review: “Employees have got used to earning the same amount of money but not putting in the same hours, and not the same production.”

According to an April 2022 report by the liberal-leaning Brookings Institute, of the 22 companies examined—including Disney, McDonald’s, Amazon and FedEx—only seven offered a living wage. It added: “The vast majority of workers still earn too little to get by.”

It also found that company shareholders grew $1.5 trillion richer while workers got less than 2 percent of that benefit.

Courtesy/Source: Newsweek