Millionaire CEO who called for high unemployment to remind workers who's in charge apologizes for 'deeply insensitive' remarks after viral backlash
- A millionaire CEO has apologized for calling for higher unemployment to remind workers who's in charge.
- Tim Gurner said Thursday his remarks calling for "pain in the economy" were "deeply insensitive."
A millionaire CEO who sparked uproar this week by calling for higher unemployment to keep workers in check is now apologizing for his remarks.
Tim Gurner, CEO of Australian real estate company Gurner Group, said in a LinkedIn post on Thursday that he was "wrong" to say what he did.
"At the AFR Property Summit this week I made some remarks about unemployment and productivity in Australia that I deeply regret and were wrong," he wrote. "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."
His post continued: "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."
Gurner had said at The Australian Financial Review Property Summit on Tuesday that the key to quashing what he views as "arrogance" in the labor market in recent years is higher unemployment.
"We need to see unemployment rise," he said. "Unemployment has to jump 40, 50% 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."
At the summit, Gurner went on to say: "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."
Besides putting people on potentially shaky financial ground, losing a job can also negatively impact people's mental health, sometimes causing depression or loneliness.
Gurner was dragged online for his remarks at the summit, and it wasn't the first time. The property developer, whom the Australian Financial Review estimates is worth about $587 million USD, was widely criticized in 2017 for saying people should stop buying avocado toast if they want to afford a house.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or has had thoughts of harming themselves or others or of taking their own life, help is available. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (dial 988) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress.
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