‘We need pain’: Millionaire developer wants workers to lose jobs

Tim Gurner on unemployment

Source: Twitter/AFR

A millionaire property developer says Australia needs higher unemployment to “kill that attitude” among workers that their bosses are “lucky to have them”.

Tim Gurner, who’s worth about $912 million, said tradies in particular had been “paid a lot to do not too much in the last few years” and that needed to change.

Gurner told an Australian Financial Review property summit on Tuesday he believed the jobless rate needed to lift by as much as 40-50 per cent to restore the balance between bosses and employees.

“I think the problem that we’ve had is that people decided they didn’t really want to work so much any more through COVID and that has had a massive impact on productivity,” he said.

“Tradies 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 needs to jump 40 to 50 per rent 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.”

Australia’s unemployment rate, which remains at historic lows, rose to 3.7 per cent in July, with 14,600 jobs lost.

Gurner, 40, is Australia’s 154th richest person on the AFR Rich List. In 2016, he was the youngest person to enter the list.

He founded and is CEO of Gurner Group, which has more than 10,000 apartments under development and completed, and a portfolio of development and management worth more than $9.5 billion.

It is not the first time he has aired controversial views. In 2017, Gurner told Nine’s 60 Minutes that millennials “buying smashed avocado for 19 bucks and … coffees at $4 each” shouldn’t complain about the difficulty of getting into the property market.

“This generation is watching the Kardashians and thinking that’s normal – thinking owning a Bentley is normal,” he said.

On Tuesday, Gurner said the pandemic had wrought a systematic change in which “employees feel the employer is extremely lucky to have them, as opposed to the other way around”.

“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.

“Governments around the world are trying to increase unemployment to get that to some sort of normality.”

Gurner said massive layoffs were beginning, and had the effect of creating “less arrogance in the employment market”, which needed to continue.

His comments were quickly picked up by outspoken US Democratic Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. She retweeted a clip of Mr Gurner speaking on stage in Sydney.

Ocasio-Cortez pointed out the huge pay packets that many chief executives earn, compared to their employees.

“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 posted on X (Twitter).

Research from the Australian Council of Super Investors earlier this year found massive pay packets for ASX200 CEOs dropped during the pandemic. However, they still earn on average 55 times more than their employees.

ACSI found that the chief executives of 11 foreign companies listed on the ASX200 took home on average more than $11 million each in 2022, compared to an average of $4.17 million for Australian-based company CEOs.

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