Expert calls IR changes anti-family and unfair
Thursday, 13 October 2005
Author: Lisa Reid, Public Relations & Media Office, University of Adelaide
University of Adelaide Research Fellow and Labour Studies expert, Associate Professor Barbara Pocock, describes the Howard Government's industrial blueprint as "a 20-year-old vision with a poor fit to a 21st century working family."
Speaking at an Industrial Relations Forum at the University of Melbourne, Dr Pocock says that industrial changes will encourage more unsocial and longer hours of work and widen inequality.
"These industrial relations changes are bad for families and our social fabric. More and more Australian workers have responsibility for the care of others. These workers put their families first, and cannot hold out for better conditions or higher pay," Dr Pocock says.
"When hourly rates are low or penalty rates non-existent, workers with families have to work more to make ends meet. Families should not be liabilities in bargaining. So far, individual bargaining has not delivered for Australian families - the reverse is true.
"International research tells us that unsocial hours of work are associated with higher stress levels in children and adults, higher rates of divorce and with greater pressures in families.
"Better work and family balance relies on effective protection for low paid workers, genuine say over working hours, the protection of family time on holidays, weekends and at night, and better paid leave. These standards should be available to all - not just those with strong bargaining power.
"These proposals will reduce the Australian work and family `standard' - already low by international comparison - to a bare minimum. Instead, inequality will widen and many working carers will struggle to bargain for themselves to do better.
"These changes swim against the international tide, as many countries are lifting general work and family standards in recognition of the growing reliance on the work of those with family responsibilities.
"This plan is anti-family and unfair."