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The Commonwealth Government has tabled its budget for the 2022-23 financial year. As the nation emerges from two years of lockdowns and border closures, with less than two months until a federal election, this budget is focused on getting the government re-elected – rather than addressing the challenges of public health, stagnant wages, and sustainability facing Australia.
Strong vocational education and training (VET) systems are vital to the success of dynamic, innovative economies and inclusive labour markets. Australia’s VET system once provided well-established and dependable education-to-jobs pathways, but a combination of policy vandalism and fiscal mismanagement plunged the VET system into a lasting and multidimensional crisis.
New research on international collective bargaining systems, released today in a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal, Labour and Industry, finds that Australia’s industrial relations system is rapidly losing its ability to support wages in the face of numerous challenges (now including the Omicron outbreak).
On the heels of new data showing further erosion of Australia’s collective bargaining system, researchers and practitioners from five countries have identified best practices from other countries that could strengthen collective bargaining and lift wages.
The COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted global labour markets, and exposed long-standing gaps in social protection systems. Governments around the industrialised world injected hundreds of billions of dollars into a range of unprecedented crisis measures: to support individuals who lost work, to subsidise employers to retain workers despite the fall-off in business, and to facilitate workers to stay away from work when required for health reasons. More recently, as the pandemic progressed and vaccination became widespread, governments have begun considering how to transition toward a post-COVID policy stance.
Culture is an inescapable part of what it means to be human. We can no more imagine a life without the arts than we can imagine a life without language, custom, or ritual. Australia is home to the oldest continuing cultural traditions on the planet, and some of the world’s most renowned actors, musicians and
This briefing note presents data on the gendered composition of the employment recovery since May. It shows women’s jobs returned on a more part-time and casualised basis than for men, and that the influx of women’s lower-earning jobs widened the gender pay gap between May and November 2020. While women were more likely to lose
In December 2020, the Senate of Australia launched an important inquiry into the federal government’s proposed Fair Work Amendment Bill.
Core features of the legislation include clarifying and expanding employer power to hire workers on a casual basis, obtain greater flexibility in the use of permanent part-time workers (adjusting hours up or down without penalty, much like casual workers), and exercise greater unilateral wage-fixing influence in enterprise agreement (EA)-making.
The federal government’s omnibus Industrial Relations bill proposes sweeping changes to labour laws which will generally enhance the power of employers to hire workers on a just-in-time basis, and will put further downward pressure on Australian wages (already growing at a record-low rate). One outcome of the bill will be an acceleration of enterprise agreements (EAs) written unilaterally by employers, without negotiation with any union. These non-union EAs will be favoured for several reasons if the omnibus bill is passed: EAs will be exempted from the current Better Off Overall Test, employer-designed EAs will be subject to less scrutiny at the Fair Work Commission, and employers will have less stringent tests to ensure their proposed EAs are genuinely approved by affected workers. All of these changes will lead to a significant increase in employer-designed EAs that reduce compensation and conditions, rather than improving them – signalling a return to the WorkChoices pattern of EA-making.
The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in an era of unprecedented disruption and transition. Increased public investment in the skills and earning capabilities of Australians will be critical to our post-pandemic recovery.
COVID-19 containment measures have suspended large sections of the economy. Governments have committed over $220 billion in income supports to workers and firms. The $130 billion JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme is the most extensive “shock absorber” (with worrying exclusions of many casual and migrant workers). With the scheme now in place, assessment of the government’s COVID-19 measures is now shifting to implementation. This includes effects on the laws and regulations governing wages and how businesses and employees (and their unions) interact to determine the terms and conditions of employment.
With many regular workplaces shut down to ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19, millions of Australians are now shifting their work to home. Home work has great potential to cushion the economic blow of the pandemic: allowing many to keep working and earning an income, and many firms and industries to continue at least partial production. But there are also many challenges and risks associated with this major shift in work patterns. Much of the increase in home work will likely become permanent, even after the immediate health emergency passes. That makes it crucial to ‘get home work right’: providing home workers with appropriate support and protections, and preventing abuse and exploitation as home work becomes more common.
While women have made some progress in closing the wage gap and other dimensions of gender inequality in Australia, they still face daunting and persistent barriers to their full participation and compensation in Australia’s economy.
That’s the conclusion from a new factbook on gender economic inequality in Australia, released by the Centre for Future Work to coincide with International Women’s Day on 8 March.
Coalition leaders hardly mentioned industrial relations topics during the recent federal election campaign, but now that the party is back in power, an aggressive and wide-ranging agenda for changing Australia’s labour laws has been quickly assembled—with the enthusiastic backing of business lobbyists.
The Centre for Future Work has released a major new report documenting the new challenges faced by Australian university graduates in finding jobs that are stable, rewarding, and utilise their newly-developed skills. The report was prepared in conjunction with Graduate Careers Australia.
Australia can learn much from the policy leadership of the Ardern Government in New Zealand and its reforms to address stagnant wages and rebuild a more inclusive workplace relations framework, according to new research from the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute.
What’s a ‘gig’ job, anyway? There’s lots of media hype about how people won’t have jobs in the future (they’re so old-fashioned). Instead they’ll work a never-ending series of gigs. Will they love the supposed ‘freedom’ and ‘flexibility’? Or will they yearn for the good old days when a job provided regular hours … and a regular paycheque?
Australia’s enterprise bargaining system is crumbling rapidly in private sector workplaces, according to dramatic findings from the Centre for Future Work.