England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

Billionaire Tim Gurner’s contempt for workers: A case of saying “the quiet part loud”

By Robert Cosgrave

Originally published on socialistparty.ie

Multi-millionaire Australian property developer Tim Gurner – whose company has a portfolio of over $6 billion and who some may remember for blaming the inability of millennials to get a house on their penchant for avocado toast – is back in the news again after comments he made at the Australian Financial Review.

Gurner, no doubt carried away by the mood of the audience of Australian capitalists and wannabe capitalists, said that since Covid-19 the old ways to threaten and discipline workers don’t seem to work anymore. Workers have become “arrogant”. So, he argued, if bosses want to keep their record profits as high as they like they need to get creative.

Gurner thinks workers aren’t grateful enough for the jobs that they have. Not surprisingly for a property developer, his ire was particularly directed at construction workers. His solution is to “see some real pain in the economy” – pain that only travels in the direction of working-class people mind you. Specifically, he insisted we need to see a rise in the unemployment rate of between 40% and 50%! Even Mr. Burns might think that was a tad extreme.

Speaking for the bosses

Across the planet these comments were condemned by working-class people. The fact is that when Gurner spoke he wasn’t just speaking for himself but for bosses the world over who resent every victory the working-class ever won for itself and would reinstate conditions befitting a Dickens novel if they thought they could get away with it.

In the unfolding multifarious crisis of capitalism the mask is increasingly coming off for the ruling class. Figures like Elon Musk or Tim Gurner, like Krusty the Clown, more often say the loud part quiet and the quiet part loud, exposing further how the capitalist class derive their extreme wealth from the exploitation of workers. Which means that in periods of crisis the capitalists “solution” is only that of increased exploitation and immiseration. They will use this crisis, like they always do, to push their agenda to its extreme limits.

The only thing that has stopped them in the past has been the strength of an active and militant working-class and socialist movement and these traditions have to be rebuilt to achieve any victories against the Tim Gurners of the world and the capitalists’ system as a whole.


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