[This letter first appeared in The Australian Financial Review on 25 November 2010]
25 November 2010
HR Nicholls view on test case
You report Workplace Relations Minister Chris Evans as telling a Workforce Conference that the challenge was to make the existing act work and that "productivity growth will be the prism through which the government will weigh and consider industrial relations issues" ("Unity sought on Fair Work", 23 November).
Particularly given the largest fall in 25 years in multi-factor productivity growth in 2008-09 (due largely to the global financial crisis), it is certainly important that workplace relations policy takes this objective fully into account.
However, Minister Evans also indicated that the government submission supports the test case claim for equal pay for women working in social and community services even though it would add considerably to government expenditure. In doing so he made no reference to the implications for productivity growth and the likelihood that, due to the probable reduced employment of lower skilled workers if the test case is successful, this would increase such growth.
The HR Nicholls Society urges the government to ensure that its submissions to Fair Work Australia, and major statements on workplace relations policies, provide assessments of the implications both for productivity and employment growth.
Michael Moore is Secretary of the HR Nicholls Society.