IR laws: Profits up – Wages down

Women and low paid workers hurt the most!

Professor David Peetz, from Brisbane’s Griffith University, has completed a study into the first 10 months of Howard’s new industrial relations laws and found female workers and employees in the retail and hospitality sectors were the biggest losers. In these areas women comprise about 60 per cent of the work force.

Peetz found the real-time average wage for women had fallen by 2 per cent while workers across the board suffered a wage cut of 1.1 per cent despite record employment and an alleged economic boom.

The report found that hospitality and retail workers suffered the most because many have been forced to sign Australian Workplace Agreements (individual contracts) that cut out conditions such as overtime. The research shows that almost 20,000 employees are being pushed on to individual contracts every month.

The research also shows that the Federal Government has exaggerated the employment effects of the new IR laws and that jobs growth was higher in 1994 when protection from unfair dismissal was actually introduced than in the post-WorkChoices period.

Peetz finds that there is no evidence of significant economic benefits of new IR laws and, in fact, labour productivity has so far declined.