Arena Magazine: For More Jobs and a Living Wage

The Australian policy journal Arena has published a wide-ranging article by Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford on the labour market issues at play in the current federal election.

Stanford argues that the sense of "superiority" which typically accompanies economic debates during Australian election campaigns is muted in the current contest, because of the poor performance of the labour market in recent years. Unemployment and especially underemployment remain high; the quality of work has deteriorated; and wages have experienced their weakest performance since the end of the Second World War.

Visit Arena's website to see the full article here.


124 Labour Policy Experts Call for Measures to Promote Stronger Wage Growth

124 labour policy experts have today published an open letter calling for proactive measures to help accelerate the rate of wages growth in Australia’s economy. The legal experts, economists, and other policy analysts agreed that “stronger wages in the future would contribute to a stronger, more balanced and fairer Australian economy,” and they proposed several broad strategies to boost wages.

 

The letter is being circulated today through internet and social media channels, and through a full-page advertisement in the Australian Financial Review.

 

Here is the letter and the list of signatories and their complete titles and affiliations.

 

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Australia's Upside-Down Labour Market

Workers produce more, but get paid less.  Business invests less in real capital, but their profits grow.  Technology advances at breakneck pace, but so many jobs are degraded and menial (not to mention horribly paid).  What gives?  Australia's labour market truly seems "upside down."

In this article reprinted from Western Teacher magazine (published by the State School Teachers' Union of WA), our Director Jim Stanford tries to explain these contradictory trends.

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Rebuilding Vocational Training in Australia

Australia's manufacturing sector has been experiencing an important and welcome rebound during the last two years. The turnaround has been documented and analysed in previous Centre for Future Work research (including studies published in 2017 and 2018 as part of the National Manufacturing Summit, co-sponsored by the Centre).

Ironically, the manufacturing recovery could be short-circuited by looming shortages of appropriately skilled workers.  This seems unbelievable -- given so much downsizing in manufacturing employment that occurred between 2001 and 2015.  But a combination of structural change within the sector, the ageing of the current workforce, and the failure of Australia's vocational education system (crippled by a bizarre experiment in publicly-subsidized private delivery) means that recovering manufacturers may be unable to find the skilled workers they need.

A recent feature article in Australian Welding magazine highlighted the Centre for Future Work's research into the problems of the current VET system, the implications for manufacturing, and 12 key reforms urgently needed to repair the situation.

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New Video: Australia Needs a Pay Rise!

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Jim Stanford, Director of the Centre for Future Work, was recently featured in a new video produced in collaboration with United Voice and the Flip production company.

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The Year Past, and the Year to Come

Workforce (a labour relations bulletin published by Thomson-Reuters) recently surveyed major IR figures in Australia on what they saw as the big issues in 2018, and what they expect as the major talking points for 2019. Jim Stanford, economist and Centre for Future Work director, was one of those surveyed, and here are his remarks. You may also view the interview in pdf format here.

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The Future of Transportation Work: Special Series, WA Transport

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?

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Australia's Precarious Labour Market: More Coverage

Public concern continues to grow regarding the erosion of traditional jobs, and the rise of more insecure, precarious positions -- including part-time, term-limited, labour hire, and independent contractor positions. The Centre for Future Work continues to research this phenomenon, and the policy measures which would help to improve standards in non-standard jobs, and encourage employers to create more secure positions. Recent media coverage has featured our research on these issues:

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Government's welfare attacks and precarious work

Last weekend's edition of The Saturday Paper featured an in-depth analysis by journalist Mike Seccombe, dissecting the Coalition government's attempts to scapegoat welfare programs for Australia's labour market and fiscal problems.  The article included several statistics from the Centre for Future Work, as well as from our colleague Richard Denniss (Chief Economist at the Australia Institute).  With decent paid work increasingly hard to find, it's no wonder the government targets income-support payments for working-age Australians: there are both political reasons (shifting blame) and a perverse economic logic (reinforcing the compulsion on desperate workers to accept any job, no matter how insecure or badly-paid) behind the government's strategy.  Here is a link to the full article.


An Epidemic of Unpaid Work

In today's chronically depressed labour market, workers will go to unprecedented lengths to find and keep a job -- even agreeing to work for free!  ABC's RN program Future Tense recently explored the rising prevalence of unpaid work in Australia's economy, including staying at work after hours, taking your work home with you (such as e-mails that never stop), and unpaid internships.

The program features an interview with Centre Economist and Director Jim Stanford on the economic causes, and consequences, of unpaid work.  Access the interview here (click "Download Audio" to hear the show).  ABC Online also published a news story based on the program, available here.



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