- Banking & Finance
- Employment & Unemployment
- Future of Work
- Gender at Work
- Gig Economy
- Industry & Sector Policies
- Infrastructure & Construction
- Insecure & Precarious Work
- Labour Standards & Workers' Rights
- Population & Migration
- Public Sector, Procurement & Privatisation
- Science & Technology
- Social Security & Welfare
- Tax, Spending & the Budget
- Unions & Collective Bargaining
- Wages & Entitlements
- Young Workers
- Climate & Energy
- Democracy & Accountability
- International & Security Affairs
- Law, Society & Culture
As Treasurer during the 1980s, Paul Keating lamented that Australian governments had for decades been allowing the country’s sophisticated industrial base to fall apart as unsophisticated raw materials came to dominate the nation’s exports and as a result, its economy slipped into developing-world status. Keating’s famous warning of Australia’s looming ‘banana republic’ status spurred the Hawke and subsequent Keating Labor governments into action on economic restructuring, which included considering a range of industry policy intervention options to put Australia on a track to advanced, industrial status, as had been the aim of post-war nation-building that helped to institute an advanced manufacturing industrial base in Australia.
Australian society is experiencing an epidemic of mental illness that imposes enormous costs on individuals with poor mental health, their families, and the broader economy. There is no doubt that the stress, isolation and disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has made this crisis even worse. Unsafe workplaces contribute significantly to the incidence of mental
Australian society is experiencing an epidemic of mental illness that imposes enormous costs on individuals with poor mental health, their families, and the broader economy. There is no doubt that the stress, isolation and disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has made this crisis even worse.
Implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will require additional Commonwealth funding of at least $10 billion per year, and there are several revenue tools which the government could use to raise those funds. While the Royal Commission’s 148 recommendations were not explicitly costed, the Centre’s report shows that
Australia’s electricity industry constitutes a large and critical component of our national economic infrastructure. The industry produces $25 billion per year in value- added. It employs around 50,000 Australians, paying out $6 billion per year in wages and salaries. It makes $45 billion in annual purchases from a diverse and far-reaching supply chain, that provides the sector with inputs ranging from resources to equipment to construction to services.
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.
Australia’s labour market experienced unprecedented volatility during 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting recession. In the first part of the year, employment declined faster and more deeply than in any previous economic downturn, as workplaces were closed to control the spread of infection. Then, after May, employment rebounded strongly. The subsequent recovery has replaced over 80% of the jobs lost in the initial downturn. While considerable ground remains to be covered to complete the employment recovery, the turn-around in the quantity of work has been encouraging.
New research by the Centre for Future Work, commissioned by health care industry super fund HESTA, finds that a planned transition of Australia’s labour market away from fossil fuel jobs could occur without involuntary layoffs or severe disruption to communities—if governments focus on a planned and fair transition. That transition needs to include: a clear, long-term timeline, measures to facilitate inter-industry mobility and voluntary severance as fossil fuels are phased-out, and generous retraining and diversification policies.
A new report from the Centre for Future Work highlights the continuing economic importance of Alcan’s aluminium smelter in Portland, VIC, and discusses the potential of new renewable energy technologies to underpin the facility’s rejuvenation and long-term viability.
The failure of the Commonwealth to confirm that it will maintain funding for community service organisations could threaten up to 12,000 jobs in that sector, at a moment when those services are critical to Australia’s pandemic-damaged economy. That’s the conclusion of new research on the economic importance of Commonwealth pay equity funding, conducted by the
Workers in most industries and occupations worry about the effects of accelerating technological change on their employment security and prospects. New digital technologies are being applied to an increasingly diverse and complex array of tasks and jobs – including artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies which can exercise judgment and decision-making powers. Some studies suggest that as many as half of all jobs may be highly vulnerable to automation and computerisation in coming decades. The NSW Legislative Council has established a Select Committee to examine the impact of technological and other change on the future of work in NSW. The Centre for Future Work has lodged a submission.
Startling new research from the Centre for Future Work has shown that Australia’s economy is now regressing in its use of new technology, with negative implications for productivity, incomes, and job quality.
New research from the Centre for Future Work reveals that Australia ranks last among all OECD countries for manufacturing self-sufficiency. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded Australians of the importance of being able to manufacture a full range of essential equipment and supplies; and the COVID recession has created a large economic void that a revitalised manufacturing sector could help to fill in coming years.
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.
The Centre for Future Work has made a submission to the 2020 annual wage review conducted by the Fair Work Commission. The submission compiles evidence showing that the annual minimum wage adjustments (which flow through into wages specified in the Modern Awards, as well as some enterprise agreements and individual contracts) have played a more important role in recent years in supporting the overall level of wage growth in Australia’s labour market. Without relatively strong minimum wage increases since 2017 (of 3% or higher for three consecutive years), Australian wage growth would still be languishing at all-time record lows of under 2% per year.
In this context, the Centre argued it is vital the Commission proceed with a normal, healthy minimum wage increase for 1 July, 2020, with full flow-through into Award wages. Otherwise wage growth will slump significantly (to an estimated 0.7%, or even lower), heightening the risk of economy-wide deflation.
New research from the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work reveals the consequences of freezing public service pay, both for public sector workers and for the broader economy.
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.
New research from the Centre for Future Work has dramatised the lasting consequences for workers’ lifetime incomes – even after they retire – of wage freezes.
A wage freeze is often described as a “temporary sacrifice,” that supposedly ends once normal annual wage increments are restored. However, this report confirms that the legacy of even a temporary pay freeze is a permanent reduction in lifetime incomes and superannuation, which can easily ultimately result in hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost income. These long-term effects are illustrated with reference to a real-world example: an 18-month pay freeze imposed on workers at Jetstar in 2014-2016.
The latest economic statistics have confirmed that Australia’s economy is barely limping along – with quarterly GDP growth of just 0.4%. One of the weakest spots in the report was consumer spending, which recorded its weakest performance since December 2008 (amidst the worst days of the Global Financial Crisis). This was despite the supposed benefit of recent Commonwealth government tax cuts in boosting disposable income and stimulating more spending.
Analysis from Dr. Jim Stanford shows that the tax cut is in fact completely invisible in the macroeconomic data.
The national roll-out of the NDIS holds the prospect of a significant enhancement in both the resources allocated to disability services in Australia, and the autonomy and flexibility of service delivery for people with disability. But it also constitutes an enormous logistical and organisational challenge. And the market-based service delivery model built into the NDIS is exacerbating those challenges, by unleashing a widespread fragmentation and casualisation of work in disability services.
New research from the Centre for Future Work shows that scheduled increases in employers’ minimum statutory superannuation contributions would have no negative effects on future wage growth, and that Australia’s economy can afford both higher wages and higher employer contributions to superannuation.
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.
The Centre for Future Work has released new research estimating the negative impacts on wages and spending power of the Victoria government’s proposed 2% cap on wage increases for the state’s large public sector workforce.
Despite its deafening silence on industrial relations issues during the recent election, the re-elected Coalition government is charging ahead with an aggressive plan to change Australia’s labour laws. And business lobbyists are lining up to endorse its direction. First out of the gate is a plan to amend the Fair Work Act, in the cynically mis-named “Ensuring Integrity” bill, to introduce harsh new sanctions on unions and union officials.
July 1 marked the implementation of the next stage of reduced penalty rates in the retail and hospitality industries in Australia. It is now two full years since the first reductions were imposed for Sunday and holiday work in several segments of retail and hospitality. Once fully phased in, these reductions will reduce wage payments in the two broad industries by an estimated $1.25 billion per year – at a time when concerns over weak wages and their impacts on the Australian economy are growing.
Australia’s economy continues to endure historically slow growth in wages and salaries, that is undermining household incomes, consumer spending, and economic growth. The Commonwealth government continues to predict an imminent rebound in wages – like in its most recent budget, where it yet again forecast wage growth accelerating quickly to 3.5% per year. But is the government willing to actually do anything to support wages?
International evidence is clear that there is a strong, positive correlation between a country’s protection of labour freedoms, and the organising success and economic influence of unions. Improvements in basic labour rights and freedoms tend to be associated with increases in union membership (as a share of total employment). And stronger union membership, in turn, is associated with broader collective bargaining coverage, less poverty among working people, and less inequality.
New analysis of income tax data confirms a dramatic slowdown in Australian wages in recent years – and the slowdown is worse than previous statistics indicated.
Tomorrow the Australian Bureau of Statistics will release its quarterly Wage Price Index: the most commonly-reported measure of wage growth in Australia’s labour market. Given the importance of public debates about wages and wage policy in the current federal election campaign, this release is timely and politically important.
This briefing note reviews some methodological issues related to the WPI. It also considers recent data confirming the visible impact on the WPI of last year’s strong increase in the national minimum wage.
Many Australians are eagerly anticipating a unique concentration of public holidays in coming days. There is a ten-day period (stretching from Good Friday through Sunday, 28 April) during which many employees only have to work three days. Many Australians are now arranging to take those three days off: creating an extended 10-day holiday for the “price” of just three days leave.