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Labour Economics Essay

1516 words - 7 pages

Labour EconomicsThe current problems between Qantas and the ACTU over employment of casual labour highlight substantial changes in the composition of the Australian workforce over the past few decades and some of the resistance to it. Gone is the traditional ' cradle to grave' career. These changes have come about for a number of reasons. New technology, micro and macro economic reforms, eg. tariff reform, industrial relations reforms, standards and quality controls have all brought about significant change. Other factors influencing this process, has been the adoption of management strategies that emphasise flexibility, requiring more use of part time and casual labour.'Full time work is ...view middle of the document...

(Healey, 1999, p.2)Micro economic reforms, such as, tariff reductions, floating the Australian dollar, deregulation of key industries and the liberalising of foreign investment have also led to a change in employment opportunities away from traditional and sometimes inefficient industrial or manufacturing work. These changes in policy have exposed our economy to direct competition with global markets, making less efficient industries change their ways or disappear. These changes often require more flexibility than full time permanent employment could offer. The government with help of the unions have attempted to address some of these problems with greater use of enterprise bargaining and other workplace reforms but these are largely applicable to medium to large business and not small business. 'The combined effect of these influences has resulted in 27 percent or 2.5 million workers being employed on a casual basis. In comparison to 1984 when the ratio was 16 percent of all workers.' (www.theage.com.au).Downsizing is a business strategy that started in the 1980's and continued through the 1990's. The original rationale for downsizing or redundancies was part of a streamlining process brought about by the lowering of tariffs and protection of our economy, requiring greater efficiency for survival. Combined with weak economic performance during the late 1980's and early 1990's, this method was seen as a way of maintaining or increasing company profits.Management soon realised that some of the full time positions were no longer required even in times of economic expansion and instead relied on outsourcing to hire companies and consultants to fill any shortfall in labour. Outsourcing, once having established a presence in the 1980's, began to look increasingly as a better alternative to permanent positions giving management more labour options with less overheads required to maintain staff.Small business have always had problems with matching its long operating hours with the requirement to provide full time employment with penalty rates and the various leave benefits. Anti dismissal provisions in the labour awards, have made full time or permanent part time employment unattractive to most small business operators. Causal employment is therefore regarded as the most efficient use of labour in this sector with the ability to easily hire, fire and adjust working hours to suit the business. It is this flexibility that makes casual employment so attractive to employers.Female participation in the labour market has had the greatest effect on changes to the job market. ' Women as a group of labour participants have risen from 38 percent in 1965 to 54 percent in 2002'.(ACTU) The female participation rate in the job market started to increase significantly during the early 1980's as high interest rates and low real wages took their toll on household incomes. Women constantly try to balance economic needs with family needs and self-development leading to...

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