In this commentary, Centre for Future Work Associate Dr. Anis Chowdhury discusses the economic benefits of industry-wide collective bargaining. In addition to supporting wage growth, industry-wide wage agreements generate significant efficiency benefits, by pressuring lagging firms to improve their innovation and productivity performance. The experience of other countries (such as Germany and Singapore) suggests that this system promotes greater efficiency, as well as equity -- although other wealth-sharing policies are also needed.
Dr. Chowdhury's full comment is posted below.Read more
Australia’s enterprise bargaining system is crumbling rapidly in private sector workplaces, according to dramatic findings from the Centre for Future Work.
The report shows that the number of current enterprise agreements in private Australian businesses has collapsed by 46% since the end of 2013. The number of private sector workers covered by enterprise agreements has plunged 34% in the same time. In 2017, just 12% of employed private sector workers were covered by an enterprise agreement – down from 19% in 2013.
If current trends in renewals, new agreements, and terminations continue, less than 1700 agreements would survive to 2030, at which point just 2% of private sector workers would be covered by a collective agreement.Read more
The recent Victorian election results showed Australian voters want governments to play a pro-active role delivering public services, infrastructure, improved labour standards, and sustainability. They showed that in a time of deep cynicism with federal politics, States (and Territories) can play an important role filling the democratic void left by dysfunction and policy paralysis at the Commonwealth level.
This commentary from Alison Pennington, economist at the Centre for Future Work, explores what the energetic campaign in Victoria revealed about our unique system of dual governance and the potential for pro-active and progressive policy making. This commentary was originally published in New Matilda.
For the third consecutive quarter, the share of Australian GDP paid out in wages, salaries and superannuation contributions to workers has shrunk. Data for the September quarter of 2018, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday, shows that labour compensation accounted for just 46.85% of total economic output – one of the lowest on record.Read more
New data on private-sector business conditions confirm that wage increases paid in the private sector of Australia’s economy continue to plumb record lows.
The ABS’s quarterly Business Indicators report, released yesterday, indicates total wages and salaries paid out by private businesses grew 4.3 percent in the September quarter, compared to year-earlier levels. This only slightly exceeded the increase in total private sector employment during the same period. As a result, wages and salaries paid per employed worker grew very slowly – by just 0.43 percent over the year.Read more
The Wages Crisis in Australia:
What it is and what to do about it
Edited by Andrew Stewart, Jim Stanford, and Tess Hardy (University of Adelaide Press)
Australian wage growth has decelerated in recent years to the slowest sustained pace since the 1930s. Nominal wages have grown very slowly since 2012; average real wages (after adjusting for inflation) have not grown at all. The resulting slowdown in personal incomes has contributed to weak consumer spending, more precarious household finances, and even larger government deficits.
The wage slowdown has elicited concern from economists and political leaders across the spectrum. Even Dr. Philip Lowe, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, has called it a "crisis," and suggested that faster wage growth would be beneficial for the economy.
This new collection of 20 essays by leading labour market experts and commentators in Australia explores the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to this problem. The book is published by University of Adelaide Press. The book was launched in Melbourne on 29 November, with remarks from Natalie James, former Commonwealth Fair Work Ombudsman and Chair of the Victorian Inquiry Into the On-Demand Workforce.
Through the links below you may access excerpts from the book, links to participating authors, and supplementary material (including commentary, other readings, and videos). Our hope is that this collection will spark a needed debate in Australia about how to get wages back on track.Read more
Wednesday 21 November is Australia's official "Go Home On Time Day," sponsored by the Centre for Future Work and the Australia Institute. This represents the 10th year of our initiative, to provide light-hearted encouragement to Australian workers to actually leave their jobs when they are supposed to. Instead of working late once again - and allowing your employer to "steal" even more of your time, without even paying for it - why not leave the job promptly. Spend a full evening with your family or friends, visit the gym, see a movie - do anything other than work.
Please visit our special Go Home On Time Day website for more information, tips on how to get away from work on time, and free posters and shareables. There's also an online calculator where you can estimate the value of the time theft you experience, through unpaid overtime in all its forms.Read more
The Royal Commission into the financial services industry has heard tens of thousands of incidents of financial misconduct. The problem is clearly not just a “few bad apples”; the problem is clearly rooted in the core structure and practice of this industry.
However, when it comes to fixing this mess, the Commission’s recent interim report provided no clear answers. Consumer education, self-regulation by banks, and even stronger enforcement efforts by government regulators all have their drawbacks. But there’s another solution that Commissioner Kenneth Hayne has so far overlooked: sector-wide collective bargaining to establish uniform, ethical pay practices across the financial industry.Read more
A special 6-part series of short articles from WA Transport Magazine:
Researchers have identified the transportation industry as one of the sectors likely to be most affected by the coming implementation of new technologies: such as self-driving vehicles, artificial intelligence, and automated logistics systems. How will transportation workers fare as these technologies are rolled out, and what measures can be taken - by employers, governments, unions, educational institutions, and other stakeholders - to ease the transitions?Read more
Recent legal decisions are starting to challenge the right of employers to deploy workers in "casual" positions on an essentially permanent basis. For example, the Federal Court recently ruled that a labour-hire mine driver who worked regular shifts for years was still entitled to annual leave, even though he was supposedly hired as a "casual." This decision has alarmed business lobbyists who reject any limit on their ability to deploy casual labour, while avoiding traditional entitlements (like sick pay, annual leave, severance rights, and more). For them, a "casual worker" is anyone who they deem to be casual; but that open door obviously violates the intent of Australia's rules regarding casual loading.
Here is a commentary from Jim Stanford, Director of the Centre for Future Work, discussing the implications of these decisions for the mis-use of casual work. The commentary was originally published on the Ten Daily website.