AFR LETTER TODAY ON WAGES

Leyonhjelm promoting industrial slavery

Senator David Leyonhjelm (“The great rollback of industrial relations reform”, January 19)¬†asks: “How is anyone motivated to do their best when one-size-fits-all wage deals are on the increase?”. The Senator’s article fails to mention that modern awards already include scope for making Individual Flexibility Agreements (IFA). These IFAs allow individual employees and employers to agree to vary award conditions including allowances, penalty rates, hours, leave loading and overtime rates, provided that the employee is left better-off overall.

Low-paid workers on modern award rates work hard for wages that are often insufficient to meet basic needs. The Senator seems to imagine that if only the industrial relations safety net were abolished and trade unions were disempowered, unemployment would disappear and the general rate of wages would then rise. This theory ignores the primary problem that our labour market is rigged such that wage levels are increasingly stunted by the effects of unjust privileges accorded to the rentier class, especially land speculators. If the senator’s lopsided notions were implemented, this would merely accelerate the drift towards a 21st Century type of industrial slavery.

Ronald E. Johnson

Charnwood, ACT

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