Productivity Commission Inquiry will fail Australians at work

23 January 2015

The Issues Papers released today by the Productivity Commission makes clear the institutional bias the Commission will bring to its review of workplace relations.

“All the issues raised by big business over the years are presented with the accompanying emphasis on the productivity and efficiency of business and the economy. Social impacts and the lived experience of Australians at work are relegated to a secondary consideration.

“The regulation of workplaces is above all about people. The single-minded focus of our government and its economic institutions on the economic imperatives of growth and productivity, along with the significant changes deregulation has brought to the labour market, are risking Australia reverting to a mind-set where labour is once again treated as a commodity”, said AIER Executive Director, Clare Ozich.

“What is extraordinary about these Issues Papers is the almost complete lack of social context. At a time when growing inequality is exercising the minds of policy-makers around the world, inequality and poverty are mentioned briefly and only in relation to the minimum wage. The growth in insecure and precarious work and the consequences for workers, their families and the community is entirely absent.”

“The Productivity Commission has presented in these Issues Papers a list of the narrow debates and discussion that have dominated political debate on workplace relations for last decade. But these debates, like the Issues Papers, are failing to grapple with the rapid changes in the nature of work and massive social changes occurring in our communities.

“Instead of these tired old debates we need a new public discussion around the role and future of work in our society and values which should guide its regulation. Regulating workplaces in the context of a market economy is not just about protecting workers but according them rights as citizens at work, including collective rights.

“Without explicitly recognising the rights of workers as outlined by international labour standards, and without appreciating the harm a deregulated labour market does to people struggling for a secure job and wage, the Inquiry will fail Australians at work,” concluded Clare Ozich.


Media contact: Clare Ozich – 0403 456 131

The Australian Institute of Employment Rights (AIER) is an independent organisation that seeks to ensure fair and decent workplace rights for all. Informed by an expert panel of industrial relations practitioners, lawyers and academics, AIER champions the fundamental rights and responsibilities of employers and workers in creating fair, decent and positive workplaces.