Home News Industrial Relations
Australia@Work: The Benchmark Report30 September 2007
The Workplace Research Centre of Sydney University released the results of their on-going five year study of more than 8000 people’s experiences at work. It is hoped the study will feed policy development and debate.
The results show that Australian working life is being transformed. While many people have benefited, change is
It has been funded by the Australian Research Council and a network of unions coordinated by Unions NSW.
Awards, agreements and individual contractsOf all employees, the majority (40 per cent) report that their pay and conditions are reliant on the award system; more than one-fifth (22 per cent) report they are covered by collective agreement; 19 per cent believe they are on award-free common law contracts; and 6 per cent are covered by Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs).
The study showed that low skilled workers had the least amount of bargaining power. The report's Executive summary says; "Almost half (46 per cent) of employees covered by an AWA feel that they do not have the opportunity to negotiate their pay with their employer; more than 200,000 AWAs in operation in 2007 have not provided opportunities for individual negotiation. The WorkChoices environment has enabled the creation of more of these types of AWAs. Young and low-skilled workers are more likely to be on these nonnegotiated AWAs, which provide the lowest earnings outcomes."
Bargaining positionThe report found "Collective bargaining produces the best pay outcomes for low-skilled workers. Those on AWAs work the longest hours ... Most of the growth in AWAs appears to be occurring in the lower skilled occupations (i.e. those in poorer negotiating positions). Employees in these occupations (e.g. labourers and sales assistants) are receiving worse outcomes, in terms of pay and hours, under AWAs. It appears that AWAs are being used as a tool for reducing employees' conditions to the statutory minima."
The report found that higher skilled workers (such as managers and professionals) tend to be employed on common law contracts and generally earn more than other employees.
Working hoursThe report found "over a fifth of all workers working 50 hours per week or more" with an high level of acceptance that work will involve large amounts of unpaid extra work.
AttitudesThe report found that, in general, Australian workers are happy but
one-third of employees want to change their hours of work;
over half of employees report 'more and more is expected of them each year'; and
workers are evenly split between who are 'just coping' and 'finding it difficult to get by' and those who are 'living comfortably'.
Union membershipThe report showed that there is a low level of union density (20 per cent), but another 10% of workers wanted to join a union. This is encouraging news and backs up the experieinces of our union. We are growing but we still have a long way to go.
The report says "initial analysis suggests that unions are achieving higher wage outcomes for their members."
Current Stories | Archive by Date | Archive by Category
Feedback Contact Disclaimer Copyright Privacy