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.
The article is based on a presentation to a recent SSTUWA delegates meeting in Perth.
Stanford provides a dual diagnosis for Australia’s labour market problems: an inadequate quantity of work, and the deteriorating quality of work. Egged on by government policies which have deliberately suppressed wages in so many workplaces, wage growth has fallen to postwar lows. This is now undermining Australia’s continued economic progress.
In addition to diagnosing what’s gone wrong in Australia’s labour market, Stanford also explains the numerous economic benefits of stronger collective bargaining systems so that workers can receive a fairer share of the economic pie: stronger consumer spending, more stable financial conditions, stronger government revenues, and less inequality.