The Business Council’s Michael Chaney has a short piece in this morning’s AFR (subscription required but see the BCA press release here) on WorkChoices which came into operation a year ago on 26th March 2006.
That was the day mass sackings were due to commence with pay and conditions destroyed throughout the workforce. But that hasn’t happened – since that time 200,000 new jobs have been created while wages have continued to rise as they have through the 1990s.
Unemployment is at its lowest level for 31 years with (horror-of-horrors) skilled labour being in short-supply. Class war between unions and pitiless bosses hasn’t worsened either - industrial disputes remain at their lowest level since 1913.
With wages more closely linked to productivity wage increases send out useful signals about where labour can most valuably be employed. This helps to create jobs and to improve general productivity and living standards.
Mr Rudd and his union mates have switched from trying to identify victims in these developments to building a campaign identifying potential victims of workforce reform. We are, according to these ninnies, all potential victims from WorkChoices - its just a question of time.
We will be real victims if the opponents of WorkChoices are successful in winding back industrial laws to those that prevailed in the 1980s. According to Access Economics reforms over the 20 years to 2004 have directly created 315,000 Australian jobs.
John Howard is right in refusing to retreat from labor market reforms even given the unfavorable election outcome in NSW. The Age, today, predictably emphasizes the unpopularity of IR reform in the face of union propaganda rather than its benefits. Their review of the outcomes of WorkChoices emphasizes the opposition campaign against it rather than its practical benefits.
We will all be worse off if the union-Labor scare campaign successfully turns back the clock. Skilled, unskilled and female workers will all face reduced labour market opportunities if the link between what they can produce of value and what they are paid is muddied by trade union backed Labor Party stupidity.