In some developed market economies, long established social partnerships between unions and management, based on collective bargaining, have been replaced by individual contracts which have been unilaterally determined by employers, while in other economies social partnerships are being developed or remade. Many newly industrializing economies are experimenting with new forms of employee representation and establishing labour market institutions for the first time.
Many traditional features of work and employment relations have undergone significant change over the past two decades in Australia and other parts of the world. The globalization to production and services has promoted greater competitive pressures and new divisions of labour which impact on people at work. Many organizations have reacted to these pressures by changing the terms and nature of employment arrangements, seeking greater flexibility in patterns of work and introducing new forms of management. In some developed market economies, long established social partnerships between unions and management, based on collective bargaining, have been replaced by individual contracts which have been unilaterally determined by employers, while in other economies social partnerships are being developed or remade. Many newly industrializing economies are experimenting with new forms of employee representation and establishing labour market institutions for the first time.
In Australia, in recent years, successive governments have opened the economy to greater global competition by deregulating financial markets and lowering trade barriers. These circumstances have compelled Australian industry to become more efficient and productive in order to survive and provide employment with decent wages and conditions.
The degree of regulation of the labour market has been progressively relaxed and a decentralized system of industrial relations, with an emphasis on enterprise bargaining, has been introduced. While some of the more extreme aspects of labour market deregulation by the previous Coalition government were reversed by the current Labor government, there has been no return to a centralized industrial relations system in which arbitration tribunals played a major role.
Given the recent experience of the global financial crisis, from which Australia has thus far emerged relatively unscathed, it is an appropriate time to assess the impact of globalization on work and employment relations in Australia. The proposed workshop will take a broad interdisciplinary approach to the subject by examining changes in work and employment relations. The workshop will provide the opportunity to draw on various experts in a range of disciplines to deal with these issues.
A number of questions will form the basis for interrelated sessions at the workshop, such as:
- How can previous historical periods of globalization inform current discussions about the effects on work and employment relations in recent times?
- How have different political economies and business systems reacted to globalization and its impact on work and employment relations? What can Australia learn from these different experiences?
- What has been the impact of changes in work and employment relations on issues of gender and work/family relationships?
- How has the trend towards less regulated and decentralized labour markets affected work and employment relations in Australia and elsewhere?
- What have been the social and economic effects of changes in the nature and regulation of work such as levels of productivity, the distribution of wealth, stress and health in the workplace and job satisfaction?
- How have changes in work and employment relations influenced opportunities for people to express their voice and gain representation in the workplace?
- What have been the effects of changes to work and employment relations on labour market institutions and forms of regulation?
- How have industrial relations tribunals operated under new legislative frameworks introduced by governments?
- How can a sustainable future for work and employment relations be achieved?
- What is the global outlook for the future of work and employment relations?
The individual sessions at the workshop will be designed with these questions in mind. Although some of these questions overlap and are interlinked, the presenters of the papers and their discussants will be chosen from a broad range of disciplines represented within the Academy and the organizers will encourage an interdisciplinary approach to the discussions in the workshop.