The Future of Work in Transportation

Workers in all parts of the economy are confronting twin threats from accelerating changes in technology and automation, and the ongoing shift toward more precarious and irregular forms of work -- including "gigs" on digital platforms.  The transportation sector is widely acknowledged to be one of the most susceptible to both of these trends.  The Centre for Future Work has published a major new research report on these trends, and how sector stakeholders can best prepare for the coming changes.

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Senate Inquiry on the Future of Work, and the Future of Workers

In October the Senate of Australia launched an important new inquiry into the Future of Work and the Future of Workers.  The terms of reference for the inquiry include:

  1. "The future earnings, job security, employment status and working patterns of Australians;
  2. The different impact of that change on Australians, particularly on regional Australians, depending on their demographic and geographic characteristics;
  3. The wider effects of that change on inequality, the economy, government and society;
  4. The adequacy of Australia’s laws, including industrial relations laws and regulations, policies and institutions to prepare Australians for that change;
  5. International efforts to address that change."

Given the close correspondence between this mandate, and the research focus of the Centre for Future Work, we were very glad to make a submission to this inquiry.

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Historic Decline in Strike Frequency Associated With Record Low Wage Growth

The Fair Work Commission’s ruling to pre-emptively block industrial action (including restrictions on overtime and a one-day work stoppage) by Sydney-area train workers has brought renewed attention to the legal and administrative barriers which limit collective action by Australian workers. 

The Sydney trains experience is a high-profile example of a much larger trend.  Across the national economy, work stoppages have become extremely rare – and the extraordinary discretionary ability of industrial authorities to restrict or prevent industrial action is an important reason why.

The Centre for Future Work has compiled a database of historical work stoppage data, going back to 1950, including the incidence of work stoppages and the numbers of work days lost as a result (both in absolute terms and relative to the size of the employed workforce).

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Scare Tactics for Corporate Tax Cuts Do Not Stand Fact Checks

In the wake of the Trump Administration's success in pushing a major company tax cut through the U.S. Congress, the Australian Treasurer has stepped up his calls for reduced company taxes here. He claims Australia will bypass the growth-inducing benefits of these tax cuts, but Dr. Anis Chowdhury, Associate of the Centre for Future Work, has compiled the economic evidence.  The U.S. experience shows no statistical evidence of any "trickle-down" growth dividend from company tax cuts:

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NSW Workers' Compensation System has Ample Resources to Maintain Benefits

The workers' compensation system in NSW has been dramatically scaled back and restructured since the current state government came to office in 2011.  Real benefit payouts have been cut by 30 percent, with the resulting "savings" passed on to employers in lower premiums (down 40 percent over the past decade).  Yet injured workers continue to bear the real cost of these changes, with benefit cuts (and further premium cuts) still occurring.  Over 4000 workers will have their monthly benefits cancelled entirely later this month.

The changes were all justified by a supposed fiscal "emergency" that existed in 2011, but that deficit was exaggerated and mostly the result of temporary factors connected to the Global Financial Crisis.  Now the system boats a large and growing accumulated surplus.  Annual financial reports released by the NSW workers insurance scheme last week confirm that the system has ample financial reserves with which to fund the maintenance and improvement of benefits for injured workers.

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Job Opportunity: Research Economist

The Centre for Future Work invites applications for an economist to join our research team in labour market research and policy analysis, working from our offices in Sydney or Canberra.

Deadline for applications is December 21 2017.

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Unpaid Overtime Diverts $130 billion Per Year

2017 marks the ninth annual Go Home On Time Day (GHOTD), an initiative of the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute aimed at highlighting the incidence of overwork among Australians, including excessive overtime (often unpaid). To investigate the prevalence of overwork and unpaid overtime, we commissioned a survey of over 1400 Australians on the incidence of overwork and Australian attitudes toward it. The results are surprising.

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Job Growth No Guarantee of Wage Growth

Measured by official employment statistics, Australia's labour market has improved in recent months: full-time employment has grown, and the official unemployment rate has fallen. But dig a little deeper, and the continuing structural weakness of the job market is more apparent. In particular, labour incomes remain unusually stagnant. In this commentary, Centre for Future Work Associate Dr. Anis Chowdhry reflects on the factors explaining slow wage growth -- and what's required to get wages growing.

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The Unintended Consequences of Public Sector Wage Restraint

Budget-cutting political leaders regularly target the jobs and incomes of public sector workers as the first and most politically convenient target of their austerity measures. But their crusade to balance the books by downsizing headcounts, intensifying work, and freezing the pay of the workers who deliver essential public services can backfire. In this new report, Troy Henderson and Jim Stanford consider the unintended consequences of one prominent austerity measure: the cap on public sector wage increases that has been in place in New South Wales since 2011.

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Wage Suppression a Time Bomb in Superannuation System

The record-slow pace of wage growth in Australia’s economy is not just making it difficult for families to balance their budgets, it also threatens severe long-run damage to Australia’s superannuation retirement system.  That’s the finding of new research from the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute.

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