“Productivity” is starting to sound a little “gourmet” — a word that means very different things to different people. But unlike the spiced-up kitchen combat of master chefs, the productivity battleground has assumed a predictable flavour, and seems to serve up the same old meal.
This week saw two new entries into the debate — Fair Work Australia’s vice-president Graeme Watson, and celebrity unionist Paul Howes. While Watson directed his attention to the “adversarial relations architecture” of Fair Work Australia, which he claimed was propped up by too many union appointments to that body, Howes urged big business to end their fantasies about a “peasant workforce” of cheap, disposable labour. While Watson sees the productivity problem as structural, Howes settles on ideology.