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  Issue No 51 Official Organ of LaborNet 28 April 2000  




.  LaborNET

.  Ask Neale

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Trades Hall

Neale Towart's Labour Review

More from the wierd and wild world of industrial relations from the man with the answers.


Workers Sick of Long Hours

About one in six workers are putting in more than 50 hours per week, according to a survey conducted by researchers from Curtin University. About one in four workers are unwilling conscripts to long hours. The study was based on the 1995 AWIRS survey of 2000 workplaces. The report rate for accidents and illness for workers clocking up the extra hours was higher than for other workers. A similar study in the UK produced similar findings.

(Work Alert; March 2000)

Forms of Employment

The Australian labour market is continuing to change rapidly and researchers are trying to come to grips with the nature and extent of these changes. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) have published a new survey conducted in August 1998 focusing on a major area of research interest, the employment arrangements that lie on the boundaries between jobs where there is a clear employer-employee relationship, and self-employment. Workplace reform, micro-economic reform, technological change and "globalisation' have all impacted on the standard employment relationship.

The Employment types that respondents to the survey were categorised into were:

Employees with leave entitlements

Self-identifies casuals

'other employed persons'

owner managers of incorporated

owner managers of unincorporated enterprises

59% of all employed persons were employees with leave entitlements

18% were self-identified casuals

4% were 'other employed persons'

7% were owner managers of incorporated enterprises

13% were owner managers of unincorporated enterprises

The growth of employment agencies and labour hire companies is a major new feature of the labour market. This survey does not really give a clear picture of that trend. The 1995 AWIRS Survey showed that over 20% of employees were agency workers. Only 84,300 of 8.4 million workers were paid by an employment agency. Perhaps the 18% casual and 4% 'other employed persons' match this. Also a component of the employees with leave entitlements category may be agency workers.

The practice of reducing permanent staff and contracting former employees as consultants is highlighted by the owner manager category. 15% of all owner managers were dependent in some way on their client.

27% of full time workers expressed a preference for fewer hours of work. Part-time workers were more likely to want more hours.

The trend to rapid turnover in jobs was also highlighted by the survey. 21% of employed persons had been at their current job for less than one year, while a further 21% had been there for between one and two years.

190,900 employees out of 8.4 million had fixed term contracts due to finish within one year.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics. Forms of Employment Australia August 1998 (released 15-2-00) catalogue no. 6359.0)

Insulation Wools: new ILO code

The ILO has adopted a new code of practice for working with synthetic fibre insulation wools.

More than 6 million tonnes of these wools are produced annually with over 200,000 people employed in the manufacturing and use of them. Despite technological improvements there is still concern that some insulation wools may have long term health consequences.

(World of Work; no. 33, February 2000)

Training and Productivity

The Productivity Commission has released a study of that shows labour productivity increases with training, provided it is combined with innovations such as technological change and reorganisation of management. The study was based on an examination of data collected in the 1990 and 1995 AWIRS Surveys. Over 60% of workplaces in the survey provided some training for employees, and spent approximately $185.00 per employee on training.

(Human Resources Update; no. 237, 25 February 2000)

Trade Unions and Vocational Education and Training: Questions of Strategy and Identity

Peter Ewer

Australian unions entered the 'national training reform agenda' in the late 1980s promising themselves a high skill, high wage economy in which 'lifetime learning' was an integral part of paid employment. The regulatory arrangements the union movement sought in order to realise these goals have instead been used to promote the 'marketisation' of vocational training, in which the business community has greatly increased leverage over training design, delivery and assessment. As a result, unions have seen one of their traditional strongholds - the male dominated apprenticeship system - cut back, while training access remains sharply defined by class and gender. Unions now face questions of how best to participate in the training market, in ways that promote union identity.

(Labour and Industry; vol. 10, no. 3, April 2000)

Wage and Salary Earners

Interesting trends showed up in the December quarter statistics. The number of private sector employees increased by 1.1%. The largest annual percentage increases by state and territory were in the Northern Territory (up 9%) and the ACT (up 6.3%). These are areas of strong federal public service presence. Strangely the numbers of federal public servants continued to decline, down 3.5% in the year. State public service numbers increased by 1.7%.

By industry the big areas of growth in employment were the property and business services area (up 11.2%) and wholesale trade (up 5.6%)

Perhaps the restaurant business is slowing, because there was a decrease in the numbers of employees in the accommodation, cafes and restaurants category of 5.6%, and in mining of 8%.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics. Wage and Salary Earners Australia December quarter 1999, catalogue no. 6248.0)

What's a ``Relevant Award'' for the Purposes of the ``No disadvantage'' Test?

When an enterprise agreement is made, the employees who are a party to the agreement must not be disadvantaged in the terms and conditions of their employment compared to employees whose terms and conditions are regulated by the relevant award. It is not always clear which award is the relevant comparison. A recent full bench decision of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission found that the award used does not have to cover all the terms and conditions to be the relevant award.

The Australian Guarantee Corporation (AGC) had proposed to use the Clerks (Finance Companies) Consolidated Award 1985 (Clerks Award) in order to compare the terms and conditions of employees under a proposed enterprise agreement. Cmr Whelan ruled initially that it was not appropriate but the full bench overturned that decision.

Australian Guarantee Corporation Limited v Finance Sector Union, AIRC (FB) (Giudice P, Marsh SDP, Harrison C), 3 February 2000, (2000) 47 AILR 4-214.

(Australian Industrial Law News; no. 3, March 2000)


*    Got a question? Ask Neale!

*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 51 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Wrestling With Reith
CPSU national secretary Wendy Caird has faced the full force of Peter Reith's attack on the federal public sector. The good news is she's still fighting.
*  Unions: The Organiser
As the nature of working life changes fundamentally, union organisers like Sally are taking up the challenge and changing too.
*  Safety: Remembering the Fallen
NSW Industrial Relations Minister Jeff Shaw's keynote address to mark the International Day of Mourning for Deaths in the Workplace.
*  History: May Day Connections
May Day as a modern working class celebration and commemoration began from the 1886 events in Chicago where workers were demonstrating for an eight hour day. But the day already had special significance for working people before then.
*  Women: Swelling the Ranks
Jenny Wright wears the honour of being the nation's first pregnant wharfie modestly. But it's not all clear sailing for this trailblazer.
*  International: Dawn Raid to Arrest Korean Union Leaders
Riot police have broken into the office of the Daewoo Motors Workers Union in Pupyung, near Seoul, and taken union leaders into custody for the "crime" of leading a militant struggle to save the jobs of Korean auto workers.
*  Satire: Angry Star City Staff Strike it Unlucky
Gamblers panicked when they discovered they were locked out of the Casino when 1800 workers walked out.
*  Review: The World of Wobbly Window Cleaners
A new book 'Reshaping the Labour Market' shines the spotlight on the impact of labour market deregulation.

»  Government to Outsource Staff Relations
»  Dial-A-Contract Hits Call Centres
»  Reith Loses Plot Over 'Bad Bargaining' Bible
»  Prayer for the Fallen Marks International Day
»  Entitlement Time-Bomb Still Ticking
»  No Joy for Southern Picket
»  Union Fighter Shapes Up For Casino Workers
»  Stopped Clock Starts Ticking at Sydney Water
»  Telstra Tangle Over 'Honest Rob'
»  A Week of May Days
»  Big Drum Up for East Timor!
»  Pick a Pollie - the Truth Revealed

»  The Soapbox
»  The Locker Room
»  Trades Hall
»  Tool Shed

Letters to the editor
»  SOCOG Makes Another Meal Of It
»  Seeking Unionists With Blues
»  Is Red Ken So Clean?

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