The rally that did workers more harm than WorkChoices

The irony is that, even with the lower than expectations turnout for the union IR rally, it has probably done workers’ interests more damage in one day than WorkChoices has in the eight months since it came into force. Many will have lost pay, given up annual leave, or been inconvienced by the the traffic chaos the protests caused.

Out of all the thousands of employers in Australia, the normal statistical spread of personality types suggests that some of them must be bastards happy to exploit workers. But despite being desperate to run a scare campaign, the unions have been struggling to find them. Even the few cases that they have managed to flog to the media have often been borderline – businesses in financial trouble where the realistic choice is a new agreement with employees or bankruptcy, or getting rid of dubious penalty rates for weekend work in exchange for higher normal rates.

Leftist bloggers have been drawing attention to an apparent decline in real wages since WorkChoices came into effect. The ABS’s Australian Economic Indicators, the latest version of which came out today, shows that while full-time adult average ordinary earnings increased by 2.9% in the 12 months to September, the CPI in the same period was 3.9%. Compared to recent times, inflation was unusually high and the average earnings increase unusually low. But what could be driving the wages figure is a very large increase in the number of people in full-time work – Continue reading “The rally that did workers more harm than WorkChoices”