In an address at the recent Australian Labour Law Association Conference in Brisbane Rob Durbridge, the Executive Director of Australian Institute of Employment Rights (AIER), questions the Howard Government’s recent WorkChoices amendments and explores options for reform.
The Howard Government promoted its employment reforms as being all about choice. Public opinion seems to believe that it is about choice for employers only and that for employees, it’s a matter of take it or leave it; Hobson’s choice. Given the radical change that the WorkChoices amendments may be found to have made to the jurisdictional landscape, what options are there for reform?
Should and can the clock be turned back to the Federation settlement in industrial relations or are the changes irreversible and the new pace to be set by corporate interests from now on? Is there are new historic compromise to be reached?
What are the priorities of the unions? Will Labor adopt policy to reform the system to replace the WorkChoices package it promises to rip up? How does a Charter of Employment Rights fit into the reform agenda?