Australian labor market over the period has continued to greatly experience periods of substantial changes. This has largely been in the areas of industrial relations, economic environment and employee relations. Australia seeks to ensure that its labor market remains stable through the creation of better employment and trade systems. The need to address the wage rate and employee relationship remains the focus of the country and various parties involved in addressing the productivity of enterprises (Burgess, 1999). This has seen the government get involved in ensuring that appropriate labor laws and major reforms are made in this sector to improve its productivity. The role of the state in industrial relation therefore has continued to grow and strengthen the labor market providing opportunities for employees to find paying jobs. Various institutions and labor unions have come up to ensure that drastic changes are made in the labor market both regionally and internationally for Australia. Most important has been the flow of information in the labor market from employers to job seekers, determination of the level of market competition, geographical and job locations and how the wage rates have been determined for the Australian labor population (Anon., 2002).
Employee relations has been taken seriously by the regulatory bodies and various disciplinary actions have been effected with much concern placed on resolving employee grievances and wage rate related issues. Various institutions and labor unions have sort to ensure that employees understand their rights and roles to play regarding job performance, duty misconduct and various issues that affect and arise in the workplace. Australia labor market addresses applicable regulation issues, legislation involved and various bargaining agreements. Changes in the labor market regarding employee relations have largely centered. Diversity of workplace changes in Australia and involvement of various bodies including the government, labor unions and non-union movements have made significant changes in the labor market.
This paper seeks to analyze the changes in the labor market in Australia regarding employee relations. The main focus will be placed on features of the national system of employee relation and how over the periods has enabled occurrence of changes. The changes to be discussed under labor market will include: productivity of the employees, involvement of labor union, major changes made by the Howard government, trade unions, and most importantly the Fair Work Act during Kevin Rudd’s time. Both international economic problems and their impact on the labor market of Australia will be discussed.
Key words: Employee relations, labor market, workplace change, unions
Employee relation focuses on the interaction and behavior of people in the workplace and the concerned breakdown in the interaction between employees and employers. It involves the practice and theory of regulation and management of employment relationships. This involves the socio-political dimension of power distribution between management and employees, employment relationships, expressions and incidences of conflicts and majorly the social and legislative relationship in which employment relationship has been established (Gennard & Hayward, 2005). Traditionally, employment relationship has been termed as industrial relations due to the association and management of trade unions and management. More broadly, it covers industrial conflicts, collective bargaining, consultation and negotiation. Over the last period, changes in the labor market have resulted in a shift in new demands and trends in employee behavior and interaction resulting in a range of developments in economic, political, social and legal context. The decline in trade union power and its entire influence in the labor market with individualization and flexibility in the management of labor have been the major characteristics of an Australian labor market. There has been a constant change of social attitudes creating a more diverse employment landscape and collective employment relationships (Ellem, 2008).
It is important to understand the typology of management style when dealing with employee relations. In the traditional view, authoritarian unitarism involved excluding workers from decision making where power is concentrated in the hands of the management. Even the policy of the unions is greatly suppressed as seen in the case of the Australian labor market. In most circumstances, workers have greatly been treated as a factor of production while the enterprises adopting cost-minimization approach. The issue of labor cost and therefore suppresses the employee relations.
Under sophisticated human relations, paternalistic unitarism, workers are considered as assets of the organization. Management therefore is responsible for maximizing employee identification which should be in line with the aims of the company. Trade unions are not recognized in this case and majorly employee need for justification is entirely eliminated.
Pluralism under sophisticated moderns considers workers as important and are greatly involved in the decision making process. Unions are recognized and work hand in hand with the employees. In a constitutional way, pluralism emphasizes on formal agreements which are directed towards regulating relationships. This demarcates areas of power sharing between employees and management I the company. In consultative pluralism, it considers a more formal and flexible approach to employee relations as seen in the Australian labor market (Simpson & Jacqueline, 1995). Unions have been involved in decision making and they are highly encouraged through recognition, two way communication and problem solving mechanisms (Oliver, 2008).
Ever since globalization became a key factor in the growth of the economy of most countries, the Australian government has sought t embrace its advantages. The international economy over the period of the 1980s has changed greatly providing better trading grounds and ways to help countries trade their products. These therefore demanded that the Australian government to reconsider its strategies in the labor market to be able to stimulate domestic economy. It therefore focused on the ways through which the domestic economy could respond to the international development. The need to restructure its labor systems.
- Quote paper
- David Moss (Author), 2011, Labor Market In Australia, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/270813