Multi-millionaire property developer Tim Gurner has apologised after calling workers ‘arrogant’ and saying the unemployment rate needs to rise by 40 to 50 per cent.
The Gurner Group CEO argued the Covid pandemic had changed the attitude of employees who needed to remember that they worked for their bosses – not the other way around.
‘We need to see pain in the economy,’ Mr Gurner told the Australian Financial Review’s Property Summit on Tuesday.
The Rich Lister said: ‘We need to remind people they work for the employer, not the other way around.’
A 50 per cent rise in the current 3.7 per cent unemployment rate to 5.6 per cent, would see, 275,000 Australians lose their job.
Tim Gurner, the 40-year-old CEO of Gurner Group, said the Covid pandemic had changed the attitude many had towards their jobs
His comments sparked a flood of scathing criticism online – particularly on corporate social networking site LinkedIn.
The 41-year-old told Daily Mail Australia on Thursday he regretted the ‘insensitive’ comments.
‘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 said in a statement.
‘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 told the Australian Financial Review’s Property Summit on Tuesday (pictured) the unemployment rate needed to rise by 50 per cent ‘so workers remember they work for their bosses, not the other way around’
Ashadi Hopper, the director of digital advisory agency AH&O Advisory, called out Mr Gurner over his comments on needing ‘pain’ in the economy
Fellow businessmen have lashed out at Mr Gurner over his controversial comments, including CEO of an American-based edible cannabis business, Spence Rodgers
The President of the Australian Medical Association, Professor Steve Robson, said Mr Gurner had made a ‘breathtakingly irresponsible statement’.
‘Unemployment is associated with a range of adverse health outcomes including suicide. I say this with some confidence having studied suicide and unemployment,’ he tweeted.
Another Twitter user accused Mr Gurner of showing a ‘gross display of unbridled arrogance’.
‘The arrogance of Tim Gurner is truly gobsmacking, I watched it twice & still couldn’t believe what I was hearing!’ said another.
Mr Gurner had taken particular aim at tradies claiming productivity had dipped since the Covid pandemic.
‘People decided they didn’t really want to work so much through Covid and that has had a massive issue 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.’
Tim Gurner has been attacked online after he told a property summit unemployment needed to rise by up to 50 per cent. Mr Gurner (above, sitting in an ice bath for a Forbes magazine cover) is a ‘biohacker’ who is reportedly obsessed with staying young, taking 50 to 60 pills per day
A major issue in the workforce was employees feeling that their bosses were ‘extremely lucky’ to have them, Mr Gurner added.
He said that mindset needed to change noting many industries were already making major lay-offs, which was already helping to shift the ‘arrogance’ some workers had.
‘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 costs balance,’ he said.
Mr Gurner runs a company which has a development and management portfolio worth $9.5billion.
This year he came in at 192 on the Rich 250 list, with an estimated net worth of $677million.