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).Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
The informal work practices of the so-called “gig” economy are widening existing cracks in Australia’s system of labour regulations, and should be repaired through active measures to strengthen labour standards in digital businesses. That is the conclusion of newly-published research from a special symposium on "Work in the Gig Economy," organised by the Centre for Future Work.Read more
In conjunction with the National Manufacturing Summit, titled "From Opportunity to Action," at Parliament House in Canberra on June 21, 2017, the Centre for Future Work has released a new research paper on the opportunities to sustain and expand manufacturing jobs in Australia.Read more
Amidst increasing concerns among economists and budget forecasters about the historic stagnation of Australian wages, the latest GDP statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics have confirmed that the proportion of national economic output that is paid to workers has reached an all-time low.
New research from the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute confirms that total labour compensation (including wages, salaries, and super contributions) fell to just 46.2 percent of total national GDP in the March 2017 quarter. That falls below the previous record low, 46.4 percent, dating back to 1959.Read more
The Fair Work Commission released two major decisions this week: its order regarding the timing for the implementation of reductions in penalty rates for Sunday and public holiday work in four major retail and hospitality awards, followed by its annual review of the general minimum wage. It is interesting to review the combined impact that the two decisions will have on the wages of workers in sectors affected by the penalty rates decision.Read more
The Australian government’s surprising decision to impose a new tax targeted precisely at the biggest financial institutions in the country continues to generate public debate. We have reviewed the structure, likely effects, and economic and regulatory context of the proposed 0.06% levy on selected liabilities of the 5 largest financial institutions in Australia.Read more