- 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
New research from the Centre for Future Work quantifies the dramatic risks faced by workers whose employers unilaterally terminate enterprise agreements during the course of renegotiations. This aggressive employer strategy, which became common after a precedent-setting 2015 court decision, would be curtailed by new industrial relations legislation proposed by the Commonwealth government.
The reforms proposed in the Secure Jobs, Better Wages bill represent important but incremental steps in restoring a better balance of bargaining power between workers and employers, and lifting wage growth back toward a normal and healthier pace.
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.
Our research at the Centre for Future Work is motivated by a deep commitment to improving the jobs, working conditions, and living standards of working people in Australia and around the world. We combine our knowledge of economics, our quantitative and qualitative research, and our connections with trade unionists and social movements to develop arguments and evidence that supports campaigns for decent work, stronger communities, and sustainability.
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.
Australia has a long history of secondary boycotts, which have been widely used for causes now generally accepted. Expanding laws primarily intended to limit union power to outlaw advocacy campaigns is illiberal, and would require significant changes to the law.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Australia’s enterprise bargaining system is crumbling rapidly in private sector workplaces, according to dramatic findings from the Centre for Future Work.
The Royal Commission into the financial services industry has heard tens of thousands of incidents of financial misconduct. The problem is clearly not just a “few bad apples”; the problem is clearly rooted in the core structure and practice of this industry.
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
The scope of the Inquiry is broad. In our submission we have chosen to focus on three areas of policy interest, drawing on our work over the past four years.