Economic liberalisation emerged when the union density in Australia declined and it was declared as a political ideology form. The new emergence also denoted New Right or neo-liberalism, favours both individualism and market. New Right policy was prescribed by the government of Australia in order to deregulate the controls upon pricing, finance and production as well as to corporatize and privatise the public services. Competitive health, welfare and education provisions were promoted by the governments and they even marketised varied forms of public services. The policies have been incorporated to provide market freedoms. New Right ideologies and policies are not in favour of collectivism upon which various unionism types are based.
According to Argy (1998), New Right is strongly committed to responsibility, individualism and self-reliance as well as contempt of ideas like communal, collectivist and societal. On the other hand, Argy (1997) pertains that New Right is more of a social philosophy or based on ethics rather than economic doctrine. Supporting both market freedom and individualism, the philosophy behind the policy clearly states that political support or unions are not needed by the wage earning individuals. Bosanquet (1981) demonstrates that, at a much broader level, this policy promotes individualism benefits. Economic choices taken by individuals would be in the best interest of the society.
The free choice prevalence suggests that New Right is moving beyond the political economy and towards theory of Public Choice, according to which the makers of public policy like bureaucrats and politicians cannot be said to act towards interest of the public. Both such makers have high demands in lieu of the support they would provide (Bell, 1997). Castles (1993) portrays that the rise of New Right philosophy was due to factors such as higher taxation and expenditure, role of state in regulation and production as well as efficiency which was enhanced by the market forces. New Right mentioned those programmes and policies which were needed in Australia when the union density was declining. It was between 1976 & 1986 that Emy and Hughes (1991) noticed the operation of 17 New Right research institutions such as Crossroads Group in Sydney, Centre for Policy Studies at the Monash University, Australian Institute for Public Policy in Perth, Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney and the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne. Various major employer groups that were in support of this ideology involved National Farmers’ Federation, BCA and Australian Small Business Association. There were many reports issued by 1989 arguing that the government enterprises of Australia, federal and state, were not performing efficiently and that competition was required to improve their working.
It was stated that the Australian economy was de-regulated by the consecutive governments. New Right critically scrutinizes and protects the efficiency and competitiveness of the industries that are protected. It was noted by Bell (1997) that Australia was not performing effectively in the exports of high value added services. He affirmed that tourism is the sector that could be utilised properly to generate surplus in the exports but it is greatly sensitive in terms of prices and that lower level of wages should be maintained in order to maintain its growth in the near future. According to New Right philosophy, it is important to de-regulate the labour markets for efficiency and flexibility. As per the BCA (1989), the tribunals and structures of trade union were regarded as obstacles to attain competitive and efficient workplaces in Australia.
Peetz (1998) acclaimed that New Right impeded a challenge for the employers from supporting unions and arbitration systems to eradicating those structures that enable or encourage unionism. He summarised the vital features of the industrial relation agenda of the New Right as follows-
- To eradicate the trade unions by taking back their rights of representing the members
- To promote contracts pertaining to individual employment
- To make use of commercial, common and criminal law for breaking the power of trade unions as well as using the anti-union legislation
- To abolish the efficient net for safeguarding awards and the arbitration system, by eradicating the power tribunals who have the right of making awards and granting the increase in wages of the workforce.
Employers Approach – Brief Outline
According to BCA (1989), New right focussed more on the fact that union role should be minimised or even eradicated because employers and employees should care regarding the timeliness and quality of their work and that they share same purpose of work. At that period, it was the relationship between the employer and employee that took all the organisational focus in Australia and policies were formulated to create non-union working environment. Both should strive for remaining union free and solving their respective problems at their level. It claimed that proposals were set out not to eradicate the aspect of trade unions at workplaces completely but to provide a better working environment, a structure that fits in how the work is carried out as well as a structure that will assist the country to compete with others by being well-equipped.
Hilmer (1989) mentioned that a certain language was being used by the Australians at their workplace, especially between the employees and managers, which gave rise to unionism. Managers should not label people as white or blue-collar because it can lead to many differences among the various employees. He also affirms that words such as equality, social wage or unionism are used to depict a society wherein distribution, interests and power of gains play an important role rather than the production. To eradicate the trade movement, work conduct should be streamlined and necessary changes should be made. He wished to bring in changes in the way workplace was viewed by employees of Australia by looking at the positive side of the New Right. He even affirmed that if relationship among employee and employer is efficient then the need of third parties such as trade unions is either minimised or eradicated. According to Benson (1999), the use of voice mechanisms in workplaces that deal with unions may be viewed as a strategy of the management to lower down the influence trade unions will have and of capturing the employees towards the company, away from third parties.
- Quote paper
- Kelvin Molly (Author), 2011, Economic liberalisation emerged, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/270817