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  Issue No 38 Official Organ of LaborNet 05 November 1999  





Key Indicators

By Neal Towart - Labor Council Information Centre

A new ILO publication provides real cross national comparisons which show that Australian workplaces rate very well on productivity, wages and non wage measures

The Federal Government's disregard for ILO principles and ruling is clear from the attacks it carries out, and helps employers carry out, on trade unions. A new ILO publication provides real cross national comparisons which show that Australian workplaces rate very well on productivity, wages and non wage measures in comparison with the US, European and Japanese economies. The Federal Government's push for further workplace change is clearly driven by an ideological commitment to smashing unions, rather than by some supposed need to make workplaces more competitive.

For example, productivity comparisons show a surging rise in the value added per employee in Australia which compares more than favourably with other European, "major non-European" (read Japan, USA, Canada) and Asia-Pacific nations. Value added per hour worked is at 129 units compared with the USA 120.3, the labour market system that Peter Reith's favourite economist Des Moore and the like are constantly lauding.

Labour cost figures also show the dramatic change pre the Workplace Relations Act and its attacks on labour rights. Per unit of output labour costs in Australia have shifted from 0.50 in 1980 (base year = 1990; figures on a US dollar basis) to 0.69 in 1996. In the USA the shift has been from 0.45 to 0.78 in 1996. Costs here per unit were effectively lower than in the USA in 1996 ie pre Peter Reith. Japan in the same period went from 0.52 to 1.22. Australia ranks about the middle in hourly compensation costs, below the USA, Japan, Germany, France, Canada, Italy, Scandinavian countries and level pegs with the UK.

The government has also been attacking non wage conditions, especially by its award simplification system. When we look at the proportion of non-wage costs to total compensation costs Australia these are at about 16-17%. In the USA they are at about 20%.

This data is contained in a major new comparative statistical tool that has been released by the ILO. It represents part of the ILO response to the 1995 World Summit for Social Development. At that summit 117 participating governments adopted the Declaration and Program of Action, which represented a new consensus on the need to place people at the centre of development (yeah, right, we won't hold our breath on that one). A commitment to support full employment was part of this, as well as equity between men and women and across countries.

The 1998 ILO conference adopted the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights to Work, which marked a renewed commitment to freedom of association and collective bargaining, elimination of forced labour, abolition of child labour, and elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation.

This guide from the ILO is an easy to follow collection of data on such matters as:

� Labour force participation rates

� Employment-to-population ratios

� Employment by sector

� Part-time workers

� Hours of work

� Informal sector employment

� Unemployment

� Youth unemployment

� Long term unemployment

� Unemployment and educational attainment

� Real wage indices

� Labour productivity and unit costs

� Poverty and income distribution

Other broad comparisons show the similarities between industrialised countries in employment by sector. The shift in economies to even stronger employment in the services sector is marked by general increases between 1980 and 1996 from around 60% of all employees to over 70% in Australia, UK, Canada, the USA and Scandinavia. Growth in female employment in this sector is marked with 85.4% of all female employment in Australia in the services.

The female share of part-time employment is tracked, with 37.8% of all females in the workforce engaged in part-time work, compared with 13.8% of males. 24.2% of all work was on a part-time basis in 1996.

Figures on working hours show that 44.3% of all employees worked more than 40 hours per week in 1996.


*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 38 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Peter Reith
We�ve fought him for the last four years, perhaps it�s time to try to understand him.
*  Education: The Boston Strangler
If the teachers' salaries "offer" had been any good, John Aquilina, the Minister for Good News Only, would have made the announcement and been seen to promote it.
*  Economics: Key Indicators
A new ILO publication provides real cross national comparisons which show that Australian workplaces rate very well on productivity, wages and non wage measures
*  Unions: Dili's Union Presence
The International Federation of Journalists� Safety Office for the Media in East Timor (SOMET) is conducting an investigation into the recent killings of two journalists in East Timor.
*  History: Maritime Dispute Records
A Joint ACTU � ASSLH project will identify and preserve as many records as possible arising from the 1997-98 Maritime Dispute.
*  International: Western Mining into Guns and Gold
An Australian mining company, Western Mining Company Limited (WMCL), has effectively won the support of the Philippines army in its battle with traditional owners in Southern Mindano.
*  Satire: Gay Scientists Isolate Christian Gene
Gay scientists today released a study which, they claim, at last identifies the �Christian Gene".
*  Labour Review: What's New in the Information Centre
View the latest issue of Labour Review, our resource for students, delegates and officials.

»  Reith : Directly Elect the ACTU President Too
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»  Bankstown Students Win Union Support
»  Workers to Use AGM to Call Telstra to Account
»  Unions On Line Conference
»  Foxy Officials to Crash Backlot
»  POSITION VACANT - APHEDA, Union Aid Abroad.

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