11th March 2006
Work Choices fails unskilled who want to join workforce
You are dead right when you say in your editorial ("Out with the old"): "Work Choice is hardly revolutionary".
Of course, Government ministers are saying, "Well hang on a tick, the new legislation hasn't had time to have any effect". But the problem is that, contrary to nonsensical union predictions that workers rights will be savaged, the legislation is highly unlikely to result in the major improvements in employment that would flow if it had provided a reasonable degree of freedom to negotiate contracts between employers and employees. A major fault with Work Choice is that it fails to open opportunities for employment for the 1.8 million mainly low income, unskilled who are seeking work.
The Prime Minister indicated earlier on that a major objective of the reform would be to increase workforce participation. Yet the Budget estimates project a fall in workforce participation in 2005-06 and slower growth in employment in the following three years. Later, he also acknowledged that Work Choice would still leave Australia with a more regulated labour market than in the UK and New Zealand.
If this situation does not provide a case for further reform of workplace relations, it is difficult to see what would.