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IR laws: good for families? « Previous | |Next »
April 5, 2006

Pru Goward, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, observes in an op. ed. in The Australian that family life is already under unsustainable pressure for many in the shift to a 24/7 global economy. She says that:

It is unclear how these new [IR] laws will really change this. What is clear is that families would like these arrangements to improve their work-life balance and will be enormously resentful of any further deterioration. That is very much the call of employers, with one eye on the legislature, and a call for caution.

She adds that the changes in industrial relations arrangements means that other things will have to change to accommodate it. People's lives will have to change. There is greater freedom but there are now challenges to do other things differently, like welfare arrangements, such as maternity leave, or superannuation.

The employers are flexing their muscles judging by the way that Cowra Abattoirs moved quickly to sack 29 employees and rehiring 20 of the dismissed workers on much lower rates of pay for operational reasons.


The Cowra action reinforced the ACTU's claims that the new IR laws are geared towards helping business and that the Howard Government's new dismissal laws allowed employers to sack without recourse and to drive down wages.

Though Cowra Abattoirs backed down after intense Government pressure, we can expect a repeat of the Cowra sackings at other workplaces.

On Lateline Pru Goward warned of a backlash if the changed IR conditions detracted from the quality of family life. She says that what: sense is that people are worried. Older parents are worried about the consequences for their grandchildren. They're worried about the hours their children are working, the fact they both have to work to pay off mortgages and that they themselves are now filling in for their children as parents. You have such widespread concerns about work-life balance. Fair or not, I think Australians would feel very resentful of employers and what they would then see as the conditions that created this. That's why, as I say, it's very much up to employers to ensure that these new laws are treated respectfully.

First indications are that employers will not treat these IR laws respectfully.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:13 AM | | Comments (0)