Vol. 29 No. 2 2003

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    The Likely Effects of Ageing on Women's Involvement in the Paid Workforce
    (National Institute of Labour Studies, 2003) Austen, S; Giles, Margaret
    This paper explores the potential effects of an ageing population on the paid work opportunities of women in Australia over the next half century. Demographic change is producing changes in Australia’s labour supply characteristics that will cause women’s employment to become increasingly important. Population ageing is likely also to produce additional demands for the type of labour that women have traditionally supplied. All this suggests that there will be strong pressure on female participation rates and hours of work. Women may welcome this change as a means of providing additional financial, economic and personal security and independence. However, to ensure that increased involvement in paid work doesn’t come at the cost, for example, of lower levels of fertility, there is a need for institutional support for both men and women as they attempt to combine increasing levels of paid work involvement with their other roles in the family and community.
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    Selling Human Services: Public Sector Rationalisation and the Call Centre Labour Process
    (National Institute of Labour Studies, 2003) Van Den Broek, D
    Establishing call centre operations has become de rigueur for firms wanting to rationalise and specialise customer services. While call centres are diverse in terms of their size and the services they provide, their common logic is standardisation of the customer interface to optimise efficiency and output. This paper differs from most other call centre research, which involve typically private sector and low-skill models, by focussing on the provision of non-sales tasks, namely human services. It looks in particular at the experiences of professionals in a public sector call centre (‘Childline’), who provide services relating to child protection. Despite the strong occupational and professional identity of Childline caseworkers, an ethos of managerialism underscored the de-skilling and intensification of their work, often associated with low-skill call centres. While Childline caseworkers held qualifications quite different from those of workers in routine operations, and were required to use more considered decision-making skills, the nature of call centre labour processes were strikingly similar. The paper questions the viability and efficacy of call centre operations where services cannot easily be reduced to tangible and measurable ‘products’.
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    The Determinants of Incentive Schemes: Australian Panel Data
    (National Institute of Labour Studies, 2003) Brown, M; Heywood, JS
    This paper estimates the determinants of individual incentive schemes contrasting cross-sectional estimates with panel estimates that account for establishment fixed effects. The panel estimates differ from previously established cross-sectional relationships. While the cross-sectional estimates reveal the traditional findings that the share of women workers (a proxy for short expected tenure) and the size of the establishment positively influence the adoption of individual incentive schemes, the panel shows no evidence for either association. Instead, the panel results suggest that such schemes substitute for both direct supervision and high or efficiency wage policies.
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    Using Input-Output Analysis to Identify Australia's High Employment Generating Industries
    (National Institute of Labour Studies, 2003) Valadkhani, A
    The objective of this paper is to identify Australia’s high employment generating industries. It attempts to do this by using the 1996-97 input-output table. The direct and indirect contributions of the tradeable industries to employment are quantified by adopting the ‘loss of the industry’ or ‘shut-down of industry’ approach. Sectoral employment elasticities are then calculated to determine the leading employment generating sectors. This analysis sheds some light on sectoral potentials for the creation of jobs. We suggest, inter alia, that the following industries will play a crucial role in generating employment in the years to come: Retail Trade, Construction, Health and Community Services, Property and Business Services, and Education. These industries are not only the fastest growing and the largest sectors in terms of employment but also possess relatively higher employment elasticities.
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    Structural change in Australian trade unionism, 1969 - 1996: A structural events approach
    (National Institute of Labour Studies, 2003) Hose, K
    "Traditional studies of long-term change in trade union structure have, in constructing explanations of change, predominantly focused on aggregate trends in union merger activity. This paper argues that our understanding of structural change in the Australian trade union movement would be better served by a structural events approach that examines the incidence of union formations, dissolutions and breakaways, in addition to that of union mergers. In doing so, it outlines how these structural events can be identified and measured, and presents the preliminary findings from the method’s application."
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    Management responses to unions in Australian call centres: Exclude, tolerate or embrace?
    (National Institute of Labour Studies, 2003) Todd, P; Still, L; Skene, J; Eveline, J
    "This paper reports on a study of management’s attitudes and responses to union activities in 20 call centres in Western Australia. Australian unions have identified call centres as an important sector to organise, but past research has acknowledged the importance of employer recognition of union rights to organise within the workplace as critical to the success of a union campaign. In addition, there is now substantial literature illustrating call centres as high control workplaces, and therefore difficult sites for unions to organise, although the question as to what extent these high control strategies reflect management’s attitude towards union organisation in call centres has been much less addressed. This article outlines management's stance towards unions within the sample of Western Australian call centres, detailing the forms their co-operation and resistance take. It explores the link between management's control strategies and their attitudes towards unions and, finally, identifies several factors influencing management's stance towards unions."
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    Beyond performance indicators: A case study in aged care
    (National Institute of Labour Studies, 2003) Stack, S
    "Benchmarking both absenteeism and labour turnover rates focuses on centrally driven performance measures emerging in aged care organisations in the health sector. This case study suggests that there is a need for performance indicators to take broader account of the essential characteristics of care work and the impact on employees of the changing focus of aged care work. Study participants express concerns about their working conditions and the impact that these have on their well being. They are also concerned about the interests of another group, the residents in aged care facilities, and the quality of care for those residents. The paper identifies some recent trends in reporting human resource management outcomes that are consistent with the expectations of New Public Management (NPM). It then outlines the case study approach, briefly describing the aged care organisation involved and some of the study outcomes. Absentee rates and factors accounting for it are highlighted and the paper discusses the unique features of care work and the different ways it is made more difficult by NPM priorities. These priorities not only appear to affect negatively the working life of aged care workers but also point to underlying problems that question the efficacy of NPM when applied to the essential relational elements of care work. While acknowledging some personal factors accounting for exhaustion and illness among respondents, the paper reveals that the requirement on them to report continuously and document activities effectively increases the administrative component of their work. This reduces the time available for hands-on care. In the absence of additional resources and organisational support, these factors inhibit key aspects of effective caring, increase the likelihood of burnout and absenteeism, and ultimately affect labour turnover."
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    Race against time: Extended hours in Australia
    (National Institute of Labour Studies, 2003) Peetz, D; Townsend, K; Russell, B; Houghton, C; Allan, C; Fox, A
    "Drawing on qualitative and survey research in a number of organisations, we report on some of the causes and effects of extended working hours. Extended hours were mostly employer-driven, where workplace regulation of hours was weak so that employees were not compensated for extra hours worked, though in a minority of instances they were jointly driven by employers and employees who benefited from overtime pay. Workplace culture was important in shaping extended hours. Employees internalised pressure to work long hours, so that without adequate say on their workload, those with higher say in their working hours tended to work longer hours. Yet many full-time employees were working more hours than they wanted, and there was strong support for an upper limit on hours. Such a limit failed in implementation, however, where there was no enforcement mechanism and a minority were willing to circumvent it."
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    Flexible measures for a flexible labour market
    (National Institute of Labour Studies, 2003) Denniss, R
    "The system of labour market statistics in Australia is in need of reform. The principal measure of labour market performance, the unemployment rate, was developed in an era when the labour market was characterized by full-time male bread-winners. Over the last two decades, deregulation and structural change have transformed the labour market radically. Underemployment of part-time and casual workers is now a serious problem, as is the issue of overwork. Yet a proper understanding of these important trends is missing from public debate and policy-making because they are not captured in the official statistics. A single summary indicator cannot capture all of the dimensions of labour market. Rather than continue to attempt to place all Australians into one of three labour force categories and describe the performance of the labour market by dividing one category by another, this paper advocates a different approach. This would incorporate information on how many hours people would prefer to work as well as how many hours they do work. By asking respondents to the ABS’s Labour Force Survey to state both the number of hours they worked and the number of hours they desired to work it is possible to measure the nature and extent of unemployment, underemployment and overwork simultaneously, and to do so much more accurately than is currently the case."