As someone who will be affected by Australian’s Industrial relations reforms I watched with interest the ABC’s Four Corners show on Monday night about the ‘Brave New Workplace‘.
‘In the next few weeks, barring some unforeseen political accident, John Howard will finally get to deliver on his bold vision. He will steer through the most radical upheaval of the system that governs how Australians work.’ (ABC – Four Corners website)
I watched this show because I thought there might be some argument they posed that might convince me that these reforms might actually mean a Brave New Workplace.
I am convinced though, that it won’t. Our beloved Prime Minister John Howard (oh how I cannot bear to watch that man on television but because I wanted to watch the whole show I did watch him) kept saying that these new reforms will increase productivity. HOW??? I have this question for you John.
How can taking away my current enterprise agreement which is about 200 pages long and replacing it with an Australian Workplace Agreement that I’ve been told will be about seven pages long increase my productivity? Obviously I will lose a heap of my current entitlements and I don’t imagine my pay will rise to anywhere near compensate me for those lost entitlements. This will not increase my productivity – this will lower my morale and therefore drastically lower my productivity.
Well, this would be John’s answer about productivity increasing as he told the reporter for the Four Corners show, Sally Neighbour,
‘Because they will give a much greater focus on agreement-making at the workplace level. And experience all around the world tells us that if we allow individual employers and employees to work out the arrangements that best suit them, the businesses go better, they make more money and they pay their workers higher wages.’
The organisation I work for (and I dare say most organisations) cannot pay higher wages unless all our other conditions are cut and once employees realise that their higher? take home pay packet doesn’t cover annual leave loading, sick leave, parental leave, maternity leave, superannuation etc etc, productivity is surely going to decline.
Also I fail to see how each individual employee, especially in large organisations, will be able to negotiate their own agreement. It will not happen. Imagine if there are 1000 employees. How long will it take each employee to negotiate an agreement? The cost to the organisation would be huge just doing that. I cannot see it happening.
As our union rep told a group of us, and as Sally Neighbour reported, John Howard is saying these reforms will bring about more flexible workplaces. Flexible for whom? Our union rep used the story that his dad used to line up outside the factory each morning in the hope that he might get a day’s work that day. Hopefully it won’t come to that for most workers but if it did, how can we pay off our expensive mortgages, or even get mortgages because the last time I got a mortgage I needed to be in stable employment to get one. With John Howard’s Brave New Flexible Workplace I probably won’t have a stable job.
Universities are also being held to funding ransom with this Brave New Workplace. If they don’t adopt the Higher Education Workplace Reform Requirements (HEWRR’s) they will lose quite a bit of government funding, all with the intention of making universities more flexible and productive.
No, I’m still not convinced that the industrial relations reforms will mean increased productivity. I am convinced though, that they will mean increased profits for corporations which is all that matters right?