A business tycoon is under fire after calling workers 'arrogant' and saying the unemployment rates should rise to shift the power in the employer-employee relationship back to firms.
Multi-millionaire Tim Gurner said that workers must remember “they work for the employer, not the other way around” and that “we need to see pain in the economy.”
Gurner, a property developer and CEO of The Gurner Group, was speaking at the Australian Financial Review's Property Summit when he made the inflammatory remarks.
“People decided they didn't really want to work so much through Covid and that has had a massive issue on productivity,” he said.
Gurner added that one big issue was employees acting as though their employers were “extremely lucky” to have them.
He added: “People are definitely laying people off and we're starting to see less arrogance in the employment market and that has to continue because that will cascade across the cost balance,” he said.
Gurner Group founder Tim Gurner tells the Financial Review Property Summit workers have become "arrogant" since COVID and "We've got to kill that attitude." https://t.co/lcX3CCxGuj pic.twitter.com/f9HK2YZRRE— Financial Review (@FinancialReview) September 12, 2023
Not surprisingly, Gurner’s comments sparked a flood of scathing criticism online.
One Twitter said Gurner has displayed a “gross display of unbridled arrogance”, while another described the comments as “truly gobsmacking”.
After the backlash, Gurner, 41, posted an apology on LinkedIn, writing: “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.”
Comments were turned off on the post to avoid more criticism.
It’s not the first time Gurner’s comments have hit the headlines.
In 2017, he famously suggested young people should stop buying avocados and coffee if they wanted to buy a house.
“When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn't buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each,” he said, adding: “The expectations of younger people are very, very high. They want to eat out every day, they want to travel to Europe every year.
“This generation is watching The Kardashians and thinking that's normal - thinking owning a Bentley is normal.”