Henry Thornton writes:

Allowing for those who are now unemployed or underemployed, the proposed
workplace reforms may well increase overall workplace satisfaction. From a narrowly
economic point of view, flexibility of wages and conditions will mean more
people will be employed. Of course, union leaders will immediately say
“flexibility” is code for “wage reductions.” But if 15% of the potential
workforce are partly or wholly unemployed, downward wage flexibility might be
just what they need to find a job.

However, the government makes the case that average wages might well be
higher after its reforms are in place. Certainly, it’s a fact that real wages
have risen much faster under the current government than under the Hawke-Keating
government and its “Accord” with the ACTU.

I suspect it’s impossible to know the answer about whether introduction of
“more flexible” wages and conditions will lead to more or less satisfaction
allowing for all the relevant aspects of “job satisfaction.” To the extent it
is another step in the reform of the Australian economy, the net effect is
likely to be more people working harder for higher average wages and some people
more employed than they would have been, but with lower wages. In practice, sensible
judgment will only be possible years after the event. In the meantime, there is
a battle for people’s hearts and minds on the subject.

Read more here.

Peter Fray

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