Changes to Labour Market and Employee Relations in Australia Since the 1980's

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Changes to the Labour Market and Employment Relationship in Australia since the Mid 1980’s

By Cate Boundy



Presented to

Jackie O’Toole

Lecturer in Charge

Employee Relations Management


This essay will consider that the Australian labour market and the nature of the employment relationship in Australian workplaces have changed greatly since the mid-1980s. global competition and removal of tariff protection by Government, increasing participation in the workplace of females, a move away from standard full time ongoing work arrangements towards part time, casual and contract work, restructuring of award classifications to allow multi-skilling of jobs, decentralisation of the industrial relations system, falling Trade Union membership and influence in the workplace,

Gough (2006,p 73), concludes that ‘What has emerged in Australia in the early 21st century has adversely affected significant groups in society without delivering compensating benefits’. I do not agree with this conclusion and will present a more positive conclusion for Australian workers.

The Prices and Income Accord agreed between the Australian Labor Party Government and the Australian Council of Trade Unions delivered to Australian’s health care, child care, lower income tax, superannuation and to employers wage restraint and decentralised bargaining. Successive Governments have not removed any of the benefits from the Australian population so it would by logical that these improvements to the social wage will remain.

Definition of key terms

Decentralised bargaining – Employers and employees negotiating at the workplace

Restructuring – Re-organising the activities of the enterprise, changing hierarchical structure and eliminating demarcation disputes

Structured efficiency principle - Allowed enterprise bargaining & firm-based agreements. • Trade off between productivity and pay increases

Prices and Income Accord –...