New research

A special issue of the Journal of Australian Political Economy has been released on the Howard government's WorkChoices industrial relations 'reforms'.

"In the lead up to the proposed High Court challenge, this research does what the political debate failed to do. It provides a thorough exploration, of how the legislation will affect workers rights, the work/life balance and the economy in Australia', said Professor Frank Stilwell upon the publication of the journal.

The journal contains articles by an array of Australia's leading industrial relations researchers on a range of issues including, but not limited to:

  • The government's misleading use of evidence to show that individual contracts increase productivity;
  • The first quantitative research on the number of jobs likely to be generated by WorkChoices - closer to 6,000 than the government's claim of 77,000;
  • How WorkChoices effectively removes the choice to strike;
  • Why comparisons with the British industrial relations system are disingenuous because the British Low Pay Commission was established to introduce a minimum wage from a clean slate whereas the Australian Fair Pay Commission appears to be designed to intensify low pay;

"The dramatic increase in CEOs pay highlights a flagrant double standard in remuneration practices, suggesting that executives use the power of their positions to extract an economic rent from the companies they control."

  • How it is perfectly legal under WorkChoices to make an agreement which will result in a full-time waitress being worse off by $63 a week;
  • How WorkChoices has the potential to unravel decades of struggle for gender equality;
  • How a precursor to WorkChoices in Western Australia meant that overtime provisions were cut and in May 2005 women earned 27.4 per cent less per week than their male counterparts, compared to a gap of 19 per cent in the rest of Australia;
  • Young People's attitudes to workplace bargaining - 'bargaining with employers is best left to others';
  • How opinion polls indicates that WorkChoices is likely to hurt the government at the next election;
  • The dramatic increase in CEOs pay, far in excess of average weekly earnings and significantly more than increases in shareholder value. This highlights a flagrant double standard in remuneration practices, suggesting that executives use the power of their positions to extract an economic rent from the companies they control.

'This research shows how the government is using its Senate majority to change the work-life balance and shift the share of the nation's income towards profits and away from wages' said Professor Stilwell.

[Read the introduction and access the electronic copy of JAPE]