Changes to the Labour Market and Employment Relationship in Australia since the Mid 1980’s
By Cate Boundy
KAPLAN BUSINESS SCHOOL
Lecturer in Charge
Employee Relations Management
This essay will consider that the Australian labour market and the nature of the employment relationship in Australian workplaces have changed greatly since the mid-1980s. global competition and removal of tariff protection by Government, increasing participation in the workplace of females, a move away from standard full time ongoing work arrangements towards part time, casual and contract work, restructuring of award classifications to allow ...view middle of the document...
• Trade off between productivity and pay increases
Prices and Income Accord – Agreement from 1983 to 1995 between the ACTU and the Labor Government
Work Choices – Amendment to Workplace Relations Act 1996
Fair Work Australia - The national workplace relations tribunal under the Fair Work Australia Act 2009
National Employment Standards – minimum conditions under the Fair Work Australia Act 2009
Changes to the labour market
The mid-1980s heralded the start of great changes to the Australian labour market and the employment relationship in Australia.
The Hawke-Keating Australian Labor Party Government in co-operation with the Australian Council of Trade Unions developed a framework for economic and social policy called the Prices and Income Accord in 1983. It encompassed a broader agenda than economic growth and wages including taxation reform, active labour market policies, industry policy to underpin restructuring, equitable retirement incomes, Medicare, Family Income Support and Child Care development. Updated agreements became Accords Mark II to VIII addressed the changes in economic and industrial circumstances until 1995. Accord Mark II linked wage indexation to the CPI with a 2% discount in exchange for tax cuts and 3% Superannuation. Accord Mark III in March 1987 abandoned wage indexation in favour of a two-tier wages system. The first tier was a $10 a week pay rise and the second tier was for a 4% wage increase in return for lifting restrictive work practices through a Restructuring and Efficiency principle in response to the 1986 slumps in export prices and terms of trade. Accord Mark IV in 1988 established the Structural Efficiency Principle as a central element of wage fixation to improve productivity and commenced Award Restructuring to improve efficiency, provide workers with access to career paths, encourage multi-skilling and minimise demarcation. Accord Mark V in 1989 secured wage restraint, lowered personal income tax and Award Restructuring. Accord Mark VI in 1990 continued support for Award Restructuring with increased focus upon the enterprise. Accord Mark VII in 1991 endorsed Enterprise Bargaining. This was the beginning of decentralising the industrial relations system. Federal Enterprise Agreements were submitted and approved by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission or State Industrial Relations Commissions where they applied.
The Liberal-National Coalition Parties led by John Howard won election in 1996. The Workplace Relations Act 1996, popularly known as Work Choices was designed to improve employment levels and national economic performance. Unfair dismissal laws for companies were no longer applicable to smaller workplaces, the "no disadvantage test" of workplace agreements was removed and agreements were submitted to the Workplace Authority not the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. Trade Union access to the workplace and the right to legally go on strike was restricted. Australian workers...