An overly-commodified view of work

Rather oddly for the anti-commodification think-tank the Australia Institute, their latest paper, Something for Nothing – Unpaid Overtime in Australia, takes an over-commodified view of paid work.

Authors Richard Denniss and Josh Fear seem baffled by unpaid overtime. ‘It is not immediately obvious,’ they say, ‘why people would choose to work additional hours when they could earn just as much by working less…’. They offer some speculation on worker-employer power balances, social pressure from colleagues, and work addiction.

But their own survey shows that only 12% of people who regularly work unpaid overtime think their jobs would be at risk if they did not work extra hours, and only 9% think that their colleagues would disapprove. By far the largest number, nearly two-thirds, say ‘the work would not get done’.

People working in a political think-tank, of all places, should have realised that many workers have commitments to their job that goes beyond the money they are paid and indeed their particular employer. Continue reading “An overly-commodified view of work”

Another nail in federalism’s coffin

Another cut in the death by a thousand cuts of Australian federalism is barely news these days, but it is still worth noting Friday’s agreement by all states except Victoria and Western Australia to refer powers to the Commonwealth for a national vocational education regulator.

The Ministerial Council for Tertiary Education and Employment also agreed to establish the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency announced in the May 2009 Budget. Its governance arrangements are to be discussed at a future MCTEE meeting, but expect another referral of powers.

In 2005 I published a CIS paper opposing further centralisation of education power in Canberra. My reasons related to Commonwealth incompetence, threats to academic freedom, and the usual federal arguments to do with spreading risk and learning from policy experiments. I’d use some different examples if I was writing that paper today, but the arguments still apply.