||Issue No. 271||08 July 2005|
Interview: Battle Stations
Unions: The Workers, United
Politics: The Lost Weekend
Industrial: Truth or Dare
History: A Class Act
Economics: The Numbers Game
International: Blonde Ambition
Training: The Trade Off
Review: Bore of the Worlds
Poetry: The Beaters Medley
The Locker Room
Do It Yourself?
Vale the Eight Hour Day
The vision thing
Campaign Pushes Right Buttons
It’s Time to Punt the PM
Bob Each Way
Hits the Mark
Reforms not an Erosion
Bosses: Unions Beat AWAs
The studies, commissioned at three separate universities, show workplaces with active unions are good for productivity, while individual contracts do nothing to boost business' bottom line.
They followed British studies which showed firms gained no flexibility advantage by pursuing individual contracts, and evidence from New Zealand that productivity crashed under the Employment Contracts Act - the Kiwi forerunner of AWAs.
The news was revealed in an article for Brisbane's Courier Mail by David Peetz, visiting professor at the University of Bergen, Norway, and professor of industrial relations at Queensland's Griffith University.
Peetz pointed out that since the current Workplace Relations Act came into effect, labour productivity growth had slumped to 2.3% a year, lower than in the heyday 60s-70s heyday of the traditional award system when it stood at 2.6%.
The OECD has warned that under the Howard regime unit labour costs, which measure productivity, will rise by about 5% in 2005, faster than in any other developed country. Productivity increases lead to falling unit labour costs.
"Sure, you hear lots of individual success stories from individual contracting," says Peetz. "But for each workplace that has higher productivity there is another down the road with lower productivity.
"Why? If you use individual contracts to cut wages and conditions then you don't need to introduce new processes or technologies. So productivity growth will slow.
"You can damage relations with your workforce. So workers will be less willingly productive.
"You don't hear much about the failures but they show up in the aggregate numbers."
The BCA sponsored study at Flinders University revealed that "unions are apparently good for productivity, but only at workplaces where unions are active". The Melbourne University study showed collective bargaining was linked to increased productivity while the University of NSW study said individual contracts had no positive bearing on productivity.
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