A multi-millionaire property developer from Australia has sparked outrage after saying that he wants unemployment to rise in his country because workers have become ”too arrogant”. Tim Gurner, CEO of Australian real estate company Gurner Group said that the Covid pandemic had changed employees’ work ethic and they need to be put in their place through unemployment, Independent reported.
”I think the problem that we’ve had is that people decided they didn’t really want to work so much anymore through COVID. They have been paid a lot to do not too much in the last few years, and we need to see that change” he told the Australian Financial Review Property Summit in Sydney.
According to him, the key to curbing “arrogance” in the labour market is higher unemployment.
”We need to see unemployment rise. Unemployment has to jump 40, to 50 percent in my view. We need to see the pain in the economy. We need to remind people that they work for the employer, not the other way around,” he added.
”There’s been a systematic change where employees feel the employer is extremely lucky to have them, as opposed to the other way around. We’ve got to kill that attitude and that has to come through hurting the economy,” he further said.
The unemployment rate in Australia is 3.6 per cent, or roughly 500,000 people, meaning an estimated 250,000 workers would lose their jobs in a 50 per cent increase.
A video of his controversial comments has gone viral on social media, sparking instant backlash. ”Why doesn’t he do us a favour and volunteer his job as the first step to the 50%,” one user wrote. Another said, ”Everything a business leader should not say. Kind of unbelievable.”
His comments also drew a fierce reaction from the US democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
”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,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on X.
After receiving backlash for his statements, he said in a LinkedIn post on Thursday that he was “wrong” to say what he did. He admitted that his comments were ”deeply insensitive”.
“At the AFR Property Summit this week I made some remarks about unemployment and productivity in Australia that I deeply regret and were wrong. There are clearly important conversations to have in this environment of high inflation, pricing pressures on housing and rentals due to a lack of supply, and other cost-of-living issues. My comments were deeply insensitive to employees, tradies and families across Australia who are affected by these cost-of-living pressures and job losses.
”I want to be clear: I do appreciate that when someone loses their job it has a profound impact on them and their families and I sincerely regret that my words did not convey empathy for those in that situation,” Mr Gurner wrote.
Mr Gurner, who has been featured in Forbes Australia, and is one of Australia’s richest men, has a net worth of $912 million as per The Australian Financial Review’s estimates.