Vol. 31 No. 1 2005
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ItemHow The Judiciary Continues To Undermine Labour Market Deregulation(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2005)"Despite improved economic growth, participation rates have not increased in recent years and Australian employment/population rates continue below those in comparable countries when they should be above. The existence of two million or so who would like more employment suggests much more potential for increasing employment than the official unemployment figures. Various factors contribute to this situation. But the general approach of ‘judicial’ decision-making in employer/employee relations is having serious adverse effects on employment decisions. The basis of such decision-making reflects erroneous assumptions and beliefs, including that tribunals and courts have social policy responsibilities independently of Parliament, that there is an imbalance of bargaining power between employers and employees, and that courts have the capacity to make informed judgements about the workability of employment contracts. Particularly (but not only) in the AIRC, such mistaken assumptions have intruded increasingly without taking proper account of contrary influences that in a modern society should be reflected in the basis of decision-making. These influences include the evident intent of the Workplace Relations Act of 1996 to put less emphasis on judicially-determined employment conditions, the implications of the continuing development of a competitive economy - with educated citizens increasingly able to make their own economic decisions - and the increasing role played by government in providing social security for those on low incomes. Such influences should combine to mean that employers and employees are left generally free to negotiate employment conditions with minimal judicial interference. Unfortunately, an examination of recent decisions, especially those by AIRC commissioners, indicates increasing interference or failure to interfere when obviously necessary. Such decisions have included failures to protect employers against violent and intimidatory union action, a widening in the definition of industrial action so as to allow more arbitration, an extension of the circumstances in which unions have the right to strike and to enter business premises, a widening of the safety net beyond its objective, an apparently less favourable treatment of non-union agreements and an increasing attempt to restrict employers’ use of non-union labour. A major political response is needed. This could include a wholesale revision of the legislation and a conversion of the AIRC into a mediatory body with no legal powers of arbitration or intervention. It would be timely to make such a change in circumstances where that body has completed one hundred years of regulation."
Item"Some Employment Relations Consequences of the Merger and Acquisition Movement in the Australian Black Coal Mining Industry 1997-2003"(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2005)"This article reports on research into the industrial relations and human resource management consequences of merger and acquisition activity in the Australian black coal mining industry between 1997 and 2003. Over 50 per cent of mining enterprises have been subject to at least one change in ownership during the period 1997-2003 setting in train change of a scale that the industry has not previously witnessed. From an employment relations perspective, this change has had significant consequences for union structure and strategy, bargaining structures and human resource management at the coal face. The article contends that the merger and acquisition movement has crafted a completely new set of employment relations dynamics for the coal industry."
ItemSkills Shortages: Concepts, Measurement and Policy Responses(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2005)"Understanding the different concepts and causes of skills shortages is important if sound policies are to be developed in the areas of employment, education, training and skill formation. This paper outlines different perspectives of skills shortages held by economists, employers and unions. It then discusses the measurement and identification issues and provides an example illustrating the practical difficulties of assessing skill shortages. A number of policy options to deal with skills shortages are also discussed."
ItemWhy Lockouts Matter: A Response to Perry(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2005)N/A
ItemThe Return of the Lockout(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2005)This paper comments on lockouts in Australia and Briggs’ (2004a) study of lockouts published in the Australian Bulletin of Labour June 2004. It seeks to look at Briggs findings in a broader historical context, by noting that recent past levels of disputes are a small fraction of the level of disputation during (say) the 1970s, and that lockouts, though more prevalent during the half-decade ended 2003, are an even smaller fraction of the disputation levels that prevailed on average during the 1970s. Briggs study focuses on the manufacturing sector, as this sector has, according to his research findings, been the most lockout-prone. As an addendum to Briggs focus on manufacturing, this paper draws attention to the non-manufacturing sector, which accounts for more than 85 per cent of Australian employees. It is noted that working days lost due to lockouts in this sector have decreased during the half-decade ended 2003 when compared to the preceding half-decade. Indeed, the decline in lockouts in the non-manufacturing sector during the half-decade ended 2003 exceeds the decline in strikes.
ItemProductivity Growth In Australia 1964-65 To 2003-04(National Institute of Labour Studies, 2005)N/A