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For Your Holiday Reading & Viewing Pleasure… from the Centre for Future Work!

Dec 24, 2021Update

A message form the Centre for Future Work:

Dear Friends;

We all have mixed feelings about heading into another holiday season with so much hardship and uncertainty around us – and feeling so much anger (understandably) at the failures of governments and employers to do what was needed to better control this pandemic. Nevertheless, our whole team at the Centre for Future Work hope you have as happy and restorative holiday as possible.

To help you combine relaxation with education this holiday, we have assembled the following resources… hot off the presses just in time for your seasonal edification!

Special Issue on International Lessons for Strengthening Australian Collective Bargaining:

Today we have released a major compendium of new international research showing how Australia’s failing collective bargaining system could be stabilised and strengthened, using proven policy lessons from other countries. The research is contained in a Special Issue of the peer-reviewed international journal Labour & Industry. It contains 13 articles by academics & practitioners from around the world, sharing lessons on how collective bargaining can be reformed and modernised. Our research comes on the heels of new data from Australia’s Attorney-General showing a rapid decline in coverage of current enterprise agreements. Just 1.6 million workers were covered as of 30 September by current federally-regulated EAs, down 600,000 since COVID hit. That’s now just 15% of all employees. For a comprehensive overview of this new EA data, and the findings in our Special Issue, see this story in today’s Australian. Our research has identified several key policies that could help to restore effective collective bargaining in Australia, including:

* NZ’s new Fair Pay Agreements show sector bargaining can be flexible & targeted

* Nordic countries use sector agreements to strengthen skills, VET & technology adoption

* Germany combines sector wage bargaining with firm-specific work rules

Labour & Industry has granted open access to several of the articles in the Special Issue. Links to those articles, and to the full Special Issue, are on our website here.

Explainer’s Kit on Critical Labour Policy Issues from the Carmichael Centre:

If you prefer your holiday reading in shorter, more digestible bits, you must check out the new set of issue-focused ‘Explainers’ prepared by our new Carmichael Centre at the Centre for Future Work. Each explainer takes a current hot topic in labour policy, provides key factual information, and proposes practical actions that could be taken to address the problem – all in a 2-sided brochure-style format. They make excellent stocking stuffers … and even better for handing out to workmates, neighbours, and fellow activists. Seven Explainers have been completed so far, and more are on the way (click on the titles to see each Explainer):

  1. The Crisis of Wage Stagnation in Australia
  2. Insecure and Casual Employment: Causes and Consequences
  3. Women Workers in Australia (Gender Inequality in the Labour Market)
  4. Sustainable Jobs in a Just Transition to a Climate Friendly Future
  5. Peace is Trade Union Business
  6. The Case of New Submarines (Defence Procurement & Industry Policy)
  7. A Worker Focused Agenda for Industrial Relations Reform

Even better: Dr. Mark Dean, the Laurie Carmichael Distinguished Research Fellow, has partnered with other labour policy experts to prepare a series of short videos to go along with several of the Explainers. You can access the videos here, and share them across your networks.

Video on the Redivision of Australia’s Economic Pie:

Speaking of videos, if re-runs of Die Hard and other holiday fixtures are leaving you bored, you must check out this 5-minute exposé of the unprecedented redivision of Australia’s economic wealth from workers to corporations – a redivision that has only accelerated during the COVID pandemic. It’s hard to believe, but the worse the pandemic got, the higher corporate profits soared. By 2020 the share of corporate profits in Australian GDP reached a record high of 30% – twice its share in the 1970s. Not coincidentally, the share of GDP going to labour compensation hit a record low at the same time: 46%, ten points lower than in the 1970s. That represents a redistribution of $210 billion from workers to corporations, or the equivalent of almost $20,000 per year from each employee in Australia. Winning that back would be a heck of a present under the tree! The video, featuring our Director Dr. Jim Stanford, is an excellent resource to infuriate your crazy uncle right before turkey dinner – and motivate your workmates and friends to fight for change in our employment system!

Other Research from the Centre for Future Work:

Of course, our dedicated team at the Centre for Future Work have been doing their regular work, on top of preparing this special selection of holiday resources for you. Our recent output includes the following interventions in vital employment and economic debates that will shape Australia through the rest of this pandemic, and beyond:

  • In this updated review of international COVID support policies, Alison Pennington and Jim Stanford show that Australia eliminated COVID measures (like JobKeeper and the Coronavirus Supplement) far faster than most other countries – posing unnecessary risks to both public health and economic recovery here in Australia.
  • major new paper from our economist Dan Nahum shows that the Victoria government’s top-down cap on rate revenue for local councils (a policy also used in some other states) has undermined local service delivery, good jobs, and local democracy.
  • Dan Nahum also authored the 2021 edition of our annual Go Home on Time Day report; it showed that unpaid overtime worked by Australians has increased significantly during the pandemic. It turns out that in the absence of proper limits on hours and the right to unplug, ‘working at home’ is all-too-often turning into ‘living at work’!

Thank you very much for your continued interest and support for the work of our Centre. As always you are welcome to republish or distribute any of the above resources with appropriate citation. (And if these occasional updates are ever a bother, just reply to this message asking to be removed from our list.) 2022 will be vital year in Australia’s economic and social history. Our team will come back from holiday ready to make the maximum contribution we can to the campaigns and struggles that lie ahead!

In unity,

Jim Stanford

Economist and Director