Labor way unfair and unworkable


Australian Financial Review Letter

4th May 2007



Your editorial (May 1) makes the important point that, in rejecting the return of pattern bargaining under  Labor's proposed scheme, Ms Gillard displays "a lawyer's faith in written laws and instruments, and a worrying innocence about how employer-union relations work on the ground". Indeed, both Ms Gillard and Mr Rudd, neither of whom have practical business experience, have been extraordinary naēve in seemingly thinking that unions and the proposed new quasi-judicial structure would provide a "fair and flexible" system for both sides.


Now they have published details of the wide-ranging industrial actions and provisions applicable under their scheme, they (“the twins” deleted by ED) have in  effect dealt themselves out of the pack. They are stuck with a system - "a deal is a deal"- that would operate in an unfair and inflexible way for both employers and for some workers.  


As an outside body/legislation would again determine major conditions of employment, and with increased union influence, virtually the only role available to employers would be deciding how many workers to employ (even that might be determined elsewhere).


With conditions of employment so determined, the adverse implications for employment are obvious. The Labor scheme would be particularly unfair to those outside the work force (the poor/unskilled) wanting a job.


Labor's complaint that Work Choices has been unfair blithely rides past the strong increase in real wages and employment.


Does fairness under its proposals mean wages would have to increase at a faster rate, adding to inflation, and would the “improved” conditions mean fewer jobs because of the higher costs? If not, why not?