Industrial Relations

Let’s give workers some real bargaining power

The ACTU is currently running 12 days of marches and rallies around Australia in support of its “Change the Rules” campaign. Australia’s union leaders believe that Australia’s labour laws are short-changing workers.  Why? Because employers have too much power when it comes to negotiating pay and conditions, and the government is not doing enough to correct the imbalance.   

There is no doubt that unionists sincerely care about Australia’s workers, particularly the low-paid and unemployed.  And all right-thinking Australians share their concern. But are more and stronger labour laws, designed to give workers a leg-up in pay negotiations, really the best policy to help them?

The starting point in assessing any policy should be to ask why we have the policy in the first place.  Professor Andrew Stewart, one of the architects of the Fair Work Act, puts the argument for current labour laws this way:

“Clearly, some workers have Read the rest