||Issue No. 287||28 October 2005|
A Sick Set of Laws
Interview: Under Fire
Politics: And the Winners Are ...
Economics: The Common Wealth
History: Walking for Justice
International: Deja Vu
Legal: The Rights Stuff
Review: That Cinderella Fella
Poetry: Is Howard Kidding?
The Locker Room
PM's Fatal Flush
Sign of the Times
Labor's Love Lost
Howard's Fatal Laws
Drawing on ground breaking research from social epidemiologist Sir Michael Marmot, ACIRRT argues that there is a direct link between income inequality, sickness and lower life expectancy.
Marmot argues that there is a 'social gradient' that operates along the entire occupational and social hierarchy, meaning the more egalitarian a society the higher the life expectancy.
Where an individual lies on this hierarchy carries a direct link to life expectancy and fatal illnesses from conditions as diverse as stroke, heart disease, cancer, mental illness and gastro-intestinal disease.
The social gradient even operates in white-collar workplaces where employees are not poor or exposed to dangerous or hazardous work environments.
The report 'The Shape of Things To Come' finds that the industrial relations changes will inevitably widen inequality by pushing down the minimum wage and promoting individual work contracts. This creates a steeper social gradient.
"The evidence from epidemiologists is that there will be health costs arising from industrial relations reforms that will turbo-boost inequality".
"In the developed world, it is not the richest countries that have the best health, but the most egalitarian," the report says. For example, the United States is the wealthiest nation on earth, but only ranks 26th in terms of life expectancy.
Marmot's social gradient is not solely based on income distribution, but also looks at employee control, autonomy and satisfaction with work.
"Those in routine jobs with less control over their work and their lives had higher rates of heart disease, depression and other health problem,": the report says.
"The absence of reciprocity at work, rewards for effort, and outlets to control stress and balance work-life affects health risks such as coronary disease."
The wide-ranging report into the industrial relations changes also finds:
- that the award system will 'whither away' in the medium term, with employees in non-union workplaces the first to be transferred onto AWAs
- the number of Australian employees will fall as employer push more and more workers into contracting arrangements.
- New agreements will be narrowly focussed on wages and flexibility of hours, with the widespread loss of penalty rates and overtime.
- And a spread in the number of low-wage jobs, particularly in regional areas.
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson said the report was a valuable contribution to the debate around the future of work and would form the basis of the Unions NSW submission to the truncated Senate Inquiry.
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