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We had this sort of industrial relations reform in New Zealand 15 years ago (though we didn't go nearly so far as to remove unfair dismissal claims).  The net result was greater casualisation, a dramatic drop in union membership (which flowed on to poorer working conditions in general), a massive loss of overtime and penal rates, and pay cuts of up to 25%.  Management salaries continued to rise, of course.  It also led to a decline in productivity, as employers found it easier to invest in more cheap proles than in training or upgrading their plant.

Idiot/Savant
No Right Turn - New Zealand's liberal blog

by IdiotSavant on Thu Jul 7th, 2005 at 08:06:26 AM EST
Hey, nice to see a Kiwi here! :-) I'll check out your blog when I get a chance.

Yeah, the NZ experiment with this kind of "reform" has been weighing on my mind- I found this good article in the UK Guardian. Excerpt:

"In fact, on the question of productivity, one of the papers shows that, after the introduction in New Zealand of the Employment Contracts Act, 1991 (which similarly enforced individual contracts) the NZ economy began to lag behind Australia in productivity growth. For the 14 years prior to the legislative changes, NZ had kept pace with Australia in rates of growth."

and

"In NZ, the full-time participation rate in employment fell by 11 per cent and workers lost long-held entitlements such as overtime and penalty rates. Individual contracts often contained straight out pay cuts. The number of families with no adult in work increased dramatically and income inequality widened. Kiwi workers are still reeling from these changes."

Typical of the times here, btw, that I have to turn to non-Australian newspapers to get some kind of comparative analysis.

About every month I get depressed and think of moving to NZ. Being gay and all certainly adds to the pull, that and as NZ is a small , sane country not interested in an over-inflated ego or being 'noticed' by the rest of the world.

Getting lots of expat Aussies at the moment?

"This can't possibly get more disturbing!" - Willow

by myriad (imogenk at wildmail dot com) on Thu Jul 7th, 2005 at 09:02:06 PM EST
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Well, we were also in the middle of a major economic crisis which had seen unemployment spike to 11.1%; many simply dropped out of the labour force rather than keep playing the game.

Howard's gall astounds me.  Even at the height of the free market reform push, our neo-liberal government didn't dare introduce a contract-based regime which was so blatantly one-sided.  The "trial period" means contracts will effectively be binding on workers, but not employers. Why bother calling them "contracts" at all, then?

As for moving to NZ, you might want to see how our election goes first - if National wins, it'll be the same sort of employment regime over here, and they're fairly keen on cuddling up to Bush in the forlorn hope of a free-trade deal (yeah, one like Australia's, which excludes agriculture...)

Idiot/Savant
No Right Turn - New Zealand's liberal blog

by IdiotSavant on Fri Jul 8th, 2005 at 08:59:58 AM EST
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