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Public sector austerity has become a “policy fad” in Australia, at all levels of government. Its hallmarks are unnecessary public sector wage caps, outsourcing, downsizing, privatisation and the imposition of so-called “efficiency dividends” which allegedly drive productivity growth but in reality cut spending and reduce the quality of public services. These policies of austerity are
For at least five years now, Australia’s labour market has demonstrated signs of a structural shift that has undermined traditional patterns of wage determination, and eroded the quality and security of work. The economic and social consequences of this sea change in the world of work are severe and far-reaching: flat real wages (the worst
The Coalition government’s 2018 budget features a plan to cut personal income taxes for many Australians over the next several years. The government claims it wants to reward lower- and middle-income wage-earners with tax savings. However, the biggest personal tax reductions would not be experienced until 2022 and beyond (after at least two more federal elections). And the biggest savings go to those with incomes over $200,000 per year (the richest 3 percent of tax-filers).
This report critically responds to the call for fiscal austerity and public sector downsizing, being made in response to the emergence of fiscal deficits in Western Australia (WA). Those deficits arose in the wake of the slowdown in mining activity and corresponding deceleration of employment and economic growth. Many observers immediately conclude that the only
Workers compensation benefits in New South Wales were dramatically reduced in 2012 by a newly-elected state government, citing an alleged financial crisis in the system. Benefit payments (adjusted for inflation) declined 25 percent in just five years – and some cuts are still being imposed on injured workers and their families (including some losing benefits
A new proposal for a portable training system for disability support workers under the NDIS would help to ensure the program achieves its goal of delivering high-quality, individualised services to people with disabilities. The proposal is developed in a new report from the Centre for Future Work. Under the plan, disability support workers would receive
The present submission questions the Business Council of Australia’s (BCA) Commitment to increasing investment, employment and wages in the event that the outstanding tax cuts are legislated. We looked specifically at the 10 corporate CEOs who made the commitment on behalf of their companies and found some half of those paid no tax. One wonders what their commitment could possibly mean.
The first National Manufacturing Summit was held at Australian Parliament House, Canberra, in June 2017, organised by the Centre for Future Work and the Australia Institute. The event was attended by over 100 delegates from the full range of stakeholders concerned with the future of Australia’s manufacturing sector: including businesses, industry peak bodies, trade unions,
Uber’s rapid growth in point-to-point transportation services has become the most potent symbol of the growth of the so-called “gig economy”: where people perform work on an irregular, on-demand basis, paid by the task, and without the stability or security of traditional paid employment. The expansion of this model has raised concerns regarding the erosion of labour standards and entitlements (including minimum wages, paid leave, and superannuation). This report simulates the net hourly incomes received by UberX drivers in six Australian cities, and finds that they almost certainly earn much less than would be required under relevant minimum wage standards.
Workers in all parts of the economy are confronting twin threats from accelerating changes in technology and automation, and the ongoing shift toward more precarious and irregular forms of work — including “gigs” on digital platforms. The transportation sector is widely acknowledged to be one of the most susceptible to both of these trends. The
In October the Senate of Australia launched an important new inquiry into the Future of Work and the Future of Workers. The terms of reference for the inquiry include: “The future earnings, job security, employment status and working patterns of Australians; The different impact of that change on Australians, particularly on regional Australians, depending on
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 workers’ compensation system in NSW has been dramatically scaled back and restructured since the current state government came to office in 2011. Real benefit payouts have been cut by 30 percent, with the resulting “savings” passed on to employers in lower premiums (down 40 percent over the past decade). Yet injured workers continue to
2017 marks the ninth annual Go Home On Time Day (GHOTD), an initiative of the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute aimed at highlighting the incidence of overwork among Australians, including excessive overtime (often unpaid). To investigate the prevalence of overwork and unpaid overtime, we commissioned a survey of over 1400 Australians on the incidence
Budget-cutting political leaders regularly target the jobs and incomes of public sector workers as the first and most politically convenient target of their austerity measures. But their crusade to balance the books by downsizing headcounts, intensifying work, and freezing the pay of the workers who deliver essential public services can backfire. In this new report,
The record-slow pace of wage growth in Australia’s economy is not just making it difficult for families to balance their budgets, it also threatens severe long-run damage to Australia’s superannuation retirement system. That’s the finding of new research from the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute.
This week the ABS released new GDP data, covering the June quarter, which confirm the continuing structural shift away labour toward capital in the distribution of income. We have prepared a short briefing note, contrasting the strong growth in corporate profits over the past year with the stagnation of labour incomes. Workers simply do not
Our Centre has conducted considerable research into the impacts of the Fair Work Commission’s decision to substantially reduce penalty rates for Sunday and holiday for workers under the terms of the Modern Awards covering four sectors of the economy: fast food, retail, hospitality, and pharmacy. Penalties for Sunday work will be reduced by up to half; penalties will also be reduced for working on public holidays.
The informal work practices of the so-called “gig” economy are widening existing cracks in Australia’s system of labour regulations, and should be repaired through active measures to strengthen labour standards in digital businesses. That is the conclusion of newly-published research from a special symposium on “Work in the Gig Economy,” organised by the Centre for Future Work.
In conjunction with the National Manufacturing Summit, titled “From Opportunity to Action,” at Parliament House in Canberra on June 21, 2017, the Centre for Future Work has released a new research paper on the opportunities to sustain and expand manufacturing jobs in Australia. Our new report, Manufacturing: A Moment of Opportunity, by Jim Stanford and
Amidst increasing concerns among economists and budget forecasters about the historic stagnation of Australian wages, the latest GDP statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics have confirmed that the proportion of national economic output that is paid to workers has reached an all-time low.
The Fair Work Commission released two major decisions this week: its order regarding the timing for the implementation of reductions in penalty rates for Sunday and public holiday work in four major retail and hospitality awards, followed by its annual review of the general minimum wage. Both decisions will take effect on July 1. It
The Australian government’s surprising decision to impose a new tax targeted precisely at the biggest financial institutions in the country continues to generate public debate. We have reviewed the structure, likely effects, and economic and regulatory context of the proposed 0.06% levy on selected liabilities of the 5 largest financial institutions in Australia. The loud
As Australians debate the Fair Work Commission’ decision to reduce penalty rates for retail and hospitality workers, the Centre for Future Work has published new research on the prevalence of weekend work in other sectors of Australia’s economy – and the macroeconomic importance of extra income generated by weekend penalty pay. The analysis is based
Government and business leaders have proposed a range of possible “transition” mechanisms to ease the economic hardship, and defuse political anger, following the Fair Work Commission’s decision to cut penalty rates for work on Sundays and public holidays in the retail and hospitality industries. This briefing note critically reviews several of these proposals. Whether they
Today is International Women’s Day, a time to reflect on the continued inequality faced by women — including in the world of work. Traditional measures of the “gender pay gap” indicate that women earn around 17 percent less than men, in ordinary pay in equivalent full-time positions. But the situation is worse than that, because
As Australia and other countries shift their economies toward lower-carbon forms of energy and production, problems of displacement and transition for workers in carbon-intensive industries must be addressed as a top priority. The coal-fired electricity generation industry is on the front lines of this challenge. Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford was recently invited
Economic insecurity is one of the greatest factors inhibiting victims of domestic violence from escaping violent situations at home. To address that problem unions and employers have developed paid domestic violence leave provisions which allow victims to attend legal proceedings, medical appointments, or other events or activities related to the violence they have experienced, without
The unit price of aluminium is more than 50 times greater than the unit price of bauxite. Yet Australia is growing its presence at the lower-value end of this industry – while perversely shrinking its presence in an industry whose output sells for 50 times as much. In recent years, Australia’s downstream capabilities in aluminium
Remember when Prime Minister Turnbull and Immigration Minister Dutton blamed unionized construction workers for the high cost of housing in Australia? The idea that workers (not property speculators or bankers) are to blame for the property bubble is pretty far-fetched — in fact, it sparked a viral storm on social media, using the #blameunions hashtag.