AIER has been reading some of the 141 submissions the Productivity Commission has so far placed in its website. The following are in our opinion worth reading for adding important context to the debate and bringing to the forefront issues and perspectives missing from the Productivity Commission’s Issues Papers.

The Work and Family Policy Roundtable & The Women + Work Research Group:
“There is no recognition in these TOR of the profound changes in the nature of the Australian worker, the household out of which they work, or the gender differences, inequalities and challenges that exist in our labour market. Work, care and family issues, similarly, simply do not figure in the Treasurer’s TOR. These are terms of reference for another, older time. They take too little account of the contemporary needs of the worker, their diverse circumstances, their caring and broader life context, their gender, their needs for flexibility, the barriers they face to participation, and the need for an appropriately responsive and inclusive workplace regulation framework. Similarly, the workplace relations system itself is not well suited to contemporary challenges and needs. A minority of Australian workers today are preoccupied with bargaining, conflict or industrial action. Instead, many are concerned about the security of their job; the quantum, configuration and predictability of their working hours and their fit with family and community life; their pay and its fairness relative to other similar workers; whether their voice, preferences and flexibility matter at work; and whether their job security and capacity to progress in careers is put at risk by their work family responsibilities. “

Professor David Peetz:
“The collective organisation of employees into unions is as fundamental as the collective organisation of capital into corporations. It is not a realm into which competition law should stray with the intent or effect of inhibiting or prohibiting the collective organisation of employees.”

Professor Andrew Stewart and Others:
“It is difficult to believe that the traditional competitive market model could be viewed as providing an adequate description of how labour markets and employment relations operate in practice. However, the tendency to equate labour markets to this ideal type remains a pervasive and persistent view (Gregg and Manning 1997; Kaufman 2012). Hence the view that labour market regulation generally has a distortive effect on labour market outcomes has persisted. This has occurred despite the fact that a large body of theoretical and empirical literature amassed over the last half century in the field of labour economics has shown that labour markets do not function as a competitive spot in which the wage operates as an efficient market signal to workers and firms to determine their supply or demand for labour (Manning 2013).”

John Buchanan:
“Given its interest in the changing nature of work in general and the importance of linking a concern with labour law with social, tax, skills and labour market policy the Commission should, at the very least, consider the rich continental European debates on these matters. The prime authors that it must be drawn on are Gunther Schmid from Germany (eg 1995, 2002a and b) and Alain Supiot (eg 2001) from France. Both researchers have done extensive applied as well as scholarly research on these topics, primarily for the European Commission. A particularly powerful piece of analysis in this tradition that explores the complex intersection of law and economics in structuring the labour market is provided by Deakin and Wilkinson (2005). Failure to engage with and draw on the deep insights of the work of these researchers will profoundly limit the analytical credibility of the Commission in this area”.

Interns Australia:
“Internships present benefits and risks. Where the work performed is educational, the intern gains valuable vocational skills and insights prior to entering the workforce proper, and internships allow organisations to build relationships with potential future staff, making recruitment more efficient. However, if the intern performs valuable and regular work for the organisation but is not remunerated as a regular employee, not only is the intern denied fair remuneration, their unpaid work undercuts the labour value of the paid workers responsible for these tasks. Similar to other forms of unpaid work – volunteering, unpaid trials – unpaid internships challenge a once-prevailing industrial relations norm and social standard: that work should be remunerated.”