It strikes me as remarkable that at a time when organisations are actively looking for ways to sustain their competitive advantage; the ability to effectively deal with one of the biggest contributors to costs – labour, is being hampered by a lack of flexibility in the Act.
A recent survey conducted by Deakin University on behalf of AHRI reported that:
“..If the Act was left unchanged, some 58% believed it would reduce their organisation’s willingness to employ people over the next three years. More HR practitioners now find negotiating employment contracts more difficult than in late 2010 (46% compared to 38%) and believe they would become even more difficult in a year’s time (38%, up from 25%). Some 30% reported decreased productivity over the last twelve months, while only 13% reported a decrease in 2010…“
The argument for a decent living wage and one that allows equal pay for equal work must continue, of course. And there is still work to be done in achieving appropriate wages in a number of sectors.
But it seems to me that we’ve lost the plot a little on this – it seems that at the moment it’s an either/or equation.
Surely, we can be looking after those sectors that need help and attention, whilst also being mindful that the short, medium and long term health of organisations is directly impacted by the degree to which flexibility and productivity can be implemented.
Examples such as the Qantas debacle and other recent cases of employer lock outs highlight the frustration felt at not being able to use the legislation to positively and proactively enable productivity and flexibility discussions. Using the provisions in the Act to “lock out” makes the point, sure – but at a huge expense of workforce trust. The very thing that is needed when talking changes, productivity improvements, flexibility.
I’m not sure the “clever country” is being so clever right now. What do you think? Has the Act enabled or frustrated your ability to manage in the current environment?