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Australian labour market and industrial relations policies are poised for fundamental change. A combination of political and macroeconomic factors has created a historic opportunity to turn away from the individualised, market-driven labour market policy that has prevailed since the 1980s, in favour of a more interventionist and egalitarian approach. Factors contributing to this moment include the breakdown of bipartisan consensus around key neoliberal precepts; growing public anger over inequality, insecure work and stagnant wages; and a weakening of macroeconomic conditions. Australia’s labour market is now marked by underutilisation of labour in various forms, a deterioration in job quality (especially the growth of insecure and precarious work) and unprecedented weakness in wages. The deterioration in job quality and distributional outcomes is the long-term legacy of the post-1980s shift away from Australia’s earlier tradition of equality-seeking institutional structures and regulatory practices. The current malaise in labour markets should be confronted with a comprehensive strategy to both increase the quantity of work available to Australian workers and improve its quality. The major components of such a strategy are identified, and their prospects considered, in light of the economic and political forces reshaping Australia’s labour market.
The Hayne Royal Commission into Australian financial sector misbehaviour reported in February 2019. It is, however, unlikely to provide a lasting solution to problems of financial sector misbehaviour. It has identified a number of types of misbehaviour, their ‘proximate causes’ and recommended solutions to those. But, reflecting its limited mandate and limited time, it was unable to investigate the complex question of whether there are more deep-seated, fundamental issues driving financial sector misconduct, both in Australia and globally. This article argues that there are, and that consequently the benefits from the Royal Commission will be relatively short-lived, with misconduct likely to resurface, albeit in different guises.
As economies transition from industrial to post-industrial, the types of jobs available and employment conditions change. Research indicates that youth employment has been negatively impacted by these changes. For young people seeking to enter the labour market, particularly those combining employment and study, precarious employment has become the norm. However, precarious employment is, for many, no longer a stepping stone on the path to permanent employment. Many young Australians, even those with higher education qualifications, experience prolonged periods of precarious employment. To examine how new employment landscapes are experienced by young workers, we conduct analysis of data collected by the Life Pattern Project, a longitudinal mixed-methods study. Our results show that precarious employment is related to lower levels of job satisfaction and autonomy in young adulthood.
Informed by autonomist perspectives on precarious work and labour subjectivity, this article discusses the dynamics between autonomy and job precarity. Based on purposive sampling, the qualitative findings, drawn from interviews with precarious workers aged 18–29 years in Hong Kong, reveal tensions among four types of aspirations. First, the desire for achieving freedom and individual ambition in work made the respondents critical of the notion of employment-related stability. Second, a determination to break with mainstream career paths empowered young people to take alternative pathways to new modes of work and life. Third, precarious employment was seen as a stepping stone for realising plans for travel or study. Finally, tolerance of precarity was perceived as a transitional stage in their striving for future stability. However, the findings also show the structured dilemmas experienced by young workers regarding the complex relationship between autonomy and precarity in a neoliberal labour market. Some young workers pursued work–life autonomy, constrained by precarious employment relations, acknowledging and bearing the costs, while some strategically used precarity in individual negotiations with employers to realise their goals. This article analyses young workers’ subjectivity through the lenses of autonomy and age and pushes the boundary of precarity studies beyond an implicit dichotomy between determinism and voluntarism.
Large truck crashes remain a significant problem in the truckload sector of the US motor carrier industry. Employing a unique firm-level data set from a large US truckload motor carrier, we identified two different driver groups hired during two distinct pay regimes. Before-and-after data on wages and safety outcomes created a natural experiment. Higher wages paid to experienced drivers in the new pay regime led to higher driver retention rates. Experienced drivers had lower average crash costs and were more productive during each tenure month. Experienced drivers had a much larger expected discounted net present value when compared with inexperienced drivers. As the previously inexperienced drivers gained additional experience, their crash probabilities and their value began to mirror those of the experienced drivers, demonstrating the value of greater tenure. This research supports ‘safe rates’ public policy because safety pays – for trucking companies, for cargo owners and for society.
One of the biggest challenges faced by India today is to generate quality employment. Even in areas of rapid per capita income growth, typified by the Gujarat model of neoliberal state-sponsored technological development, there is a substantial and increasing decent work deficit. Across India more generally, the decent work deficit is, in fact, growing along several dimensions, leading to ‘growth without development’ or ‘non-inclusive growth’. This article analyses quality of employment in India across subnational spaces – among states and between rural and urban locations – using three International Labour Organisation decent work dimensions: ‘employment opportunity’, ‘social security benefits’ and ‘social dialogue’. The analysis is based on published government data, for the period 1993–1994 to 2011–2012 – the period covered by the liberalisation experiment. The conclusion is that economic growth has not contributed significantly to employment quality. Although employment opportunity is significantly higher in the developed states, coverage of social security benefits and scope for social dialogue among regular salaried/wage workers are significantly less in these areas than in underdeveloped regions. Indeed, employment opportunity is significantly higher in rural areas, and the condition of workers in urban areas is not significantly better than in rural locations. Furthermore, over time, the difference in quality of employment across subnational spaces has either increased or remained stagnant.
The purpose of this commentary article is to explain the causes and effects of the economic migration of health care workers from Poland to Western countries, and to analyse the impact of the migration of doctors and nurses on the functioning of the public health system. We use data from the National Central Statistical Office, our own preliminary research, social surveys and the Watch Health Care database. Domestic data are analysed and compared with trends in Western Europe as described in Eurostat and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reports. The decreasing number of active physicians remaining in the health care system results in long waits for specialist appointments. The demand for doctors from Central and Eastern Europe will continue to grow. Consequently, there will be a further outflow of medical staff from Poland and other countries in the region and the current problems with access to health care will continue.