This Fair Work Amendment Bill proposes sweeping changes to Australia’s labour laws, at a very fragile moment in Australia’s economic history.

In our judgment, several features of this legislation will enhance the power of employers to hire workers on a just-in-time basis, suppress wages, and undermine terms and conditions. Key measures proposed include:

· Allowing employers to hire workers on a casual basis in virtually any position ‘deemed’ to be casual, with weak and inaccessible permanency conversion rights enabling long-term casual labour use.

· Reduction in permanent part-time loadings and hours security, allowing employers to treat permanent workers as if…


By Dan Nahum

Wednesday 18 November 2020 marked the twelfth annual Go Home on Time Day, an initiative of the Centre for Future Work, shining a spotlight on overwork among Australians including excessive overtime that is often unpaid.

2020 has been an extraordinary and difficult year, and our annual survey reiterated that working practices have changed, reflecting the threats presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year we reported that over half (51%) of employed respondents have chosen, or been requested by their employers, to perform some or all of their work from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, even though…


By Dan Nahum and Jim Stanford

Like governments around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession knocked a huge hole in Queensland’s state budget. Big losses in revenues from the recession, combined with extra costs of fighting the pandemic, turned a planned $234 million operating surplus for this financial year into an $8.1 billion deficit.

That’s a dramatic but not unmanageable problem. In fact, big deficits are appropriate in a deep recession (Australia’s first in three decades). …


Victorian Inquiry Offers Novel Routes to Regulating Gig Work

Findings from a landmark inquiry commissioned by the Victorian government into the work conditions in the “on demand” (gig) economy have been released. The Inquiry confirms workplace laws have failed to keep pace with economic change.

Release of the report’s findings are timely with COVID-era unemployment surging and an expanding pool of vulnerable workers relying on “gig” work to meet living costs. How do platform “digital sweatshops” work?

Platform business models recruit workers without access to secure and better compensated jobs (especially migrant and young workers). Jobs performed are often menial…


By Dan Nahum

Since the COVID-19 crisis emerged, Australians have been starkly reminded of the importance of being able to manufacture goods domestically. International shortages of, and restrictions on, the export of medical equipment and personal protective equipment have given us all a fright. While thankfully critical shortages have not yet emerged, the crisis has confirmed that being able to domestically produce a full range of essential manufactures is a matter of national wellbeing.

For many years the conventional economic wisdom was that as a high-wage, resource-rich economy, Australia was unable to competitively manufacture — nor did it need to…


Australia’s economy needs more collaboration, inclusion and equality, not less

By Giri Sivaraman and Jim Stanford

During its “miracle” re-election campaign, the Coalition didn’t breathe a word about industrial relations and labour rights. In the wake of widespread frustration with Australia’s record-weak wage growth and stagnant living standards, their strategists rightly concluded that calling for employer friendly changes in IR would have been a vote loser. But now they’re back in power (to their own surprise as much as anyone else’s), they are quickly cobbling together a far-reaching plan, backed by business lobbyists, to shift the balance of power in Australia’s labour market even further in favour of employers.

The government’s emerging agenda for so-called labour…


Rising pressure on individuals and families to meet their caring needs is the “human face” of a decline in workplace protections and bargaining power that has gathered pace since 2013 in Australia.

Wages in female-dominated industries (healthcare, social services and education) remain too low, and high childcare costs prohibit mothers’ workforce participation — limiting their work/care choices. Meanwhile, the gender pay gap incentivises fathers to increase their working hours to meet rising family costs. But in an era of stagnant wages growth, they effectively work more for less.

The need for fathers and male spouses to take on more caring…


International Evidence Shows Legal Climate Affects Union Organising Success

Union organising and fighting for better labour rules are two sides of the same coin

Over the last two years, Australia’s union movement, joined by other social and equality advocates, sponsored a high-profile educational and activist campaign to “Change the Rules” of Australia’s labour market. Through a combination of workplace outreach, community meetings, mass demonstrations, and efforts to mobilise sympathetic voters in the recent federal election, the campaign captured widespread public attention — and support.

Public opinion polls confirm that strong majorities of Australians (in some cases over 70 per cent) now consistently support key demands of the campaign: such as restoring Sunday penalty rates, or…


Empirical Evidence of Wage Weakness is Irrefutable

By Dr. Jim Stanford

As the great novelist Isaac Asimov wrote, “The easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it exists.” Business-oriented commentators have adopted that advice with gusto, during current public debates over the unprecedented weakness of Australian wages.

Creative Commons License

Since 2013 average wages have been growing at about 2% per year. That’s the slowest sustained growth since the end of the Second World War. …


By Alison Pennington

The government announced one of its most important economic policies for the election this week: $100 million in capital funding injected into the “beating heart of the Australian economy” to support small business to upgrade production and create more jobs. In essence, the public will become 40 per cent shareholders in 30–50 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) per year. Backing this announcement, Prime Minister Scott Morrison pointed to the government’s supposedly strong record on small business creation — with over 230,000 new small businesses created over the last five years.

But what this number doesn’t tell you…

Centre for Future Work

CFW, housed within the Australia Institute, conducts and publishes progressive economic research on work, employment, and labour markets. https://www.futurework

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