Rerum Novarum

Louise Dodson, writing in today’s SMH, claims that the battle for the Catholic vote is not over. Bishop Kevin Manning, Catholic Bishop of Parramatta, had some acerbic and pointed remarks to make about the possibility of changes to the Industrial Relations laws by a coalition unrestrained by the Senate in a recent speech to mark the 90th anniversary of the Industrial Relations Commission:

“Labour market flexibility is not a good in itself. If flexible arrangements undermine the ability of workers to earn a living wage or to plan a family, then the state has a responsibility to intervene in favour of the common good,” he said in the speech… “Low wages, insecure short-term contracts, casual work and seasonal work are frequently the lot of young people, migrants and holders of temporary protection visas, unskilled and semi-skilled workers. These patterns of employment are making inroads into white-collar work. At the same time, top executives are earning preposterous salaries.”

Amen to that from this Armadillo.

And it’s interesting to note that Bishop Manning’s diocese takes in Western Sydney. I wonder if Tony Abbott is contemplating any more visits to Cardinal Pell.

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
This entry was posted in Politics - national, Religion, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
14 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
DREADNOUGHT
2022 years ago

Not sure what you mean by the final comments, Mark, but Manning’s speech was humane and probably welcomed by the Federal Government anyway.

I don’t think there’s any chance Howard’s lot would ‘undermine the ability of workers to earn a living wage or to plan a family’. That’s why the millions more in work because of the Coalition’s magnificent economic stewardship vote Liberal not Labor, increasingly in former Labor safe seats in Western Sydney of all places!

Spiros
Spiros
2022 years ago

“the Coalition’s magnificent economic stewardship”

Ho, ho, ho. The silly season has started early this year, I see.

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

With the lowest unemployment in a generation, I suspect that labour is in its strongest position for some time. Regardless of what legislation the Coalition passes, employers are going to be increasingly forced to accede to workers’ demands. Of course this will happen unevenly, and some will still be in a weak bargaining position. The question still remains whether it is better to be in a low-paid, insecure job with poor conditions or to be unemployed and constantly answerable to the bureaucracy for your job-seeking efforts. I would say for most people the former is still vastly preferable, both from the perspective of income and for the improvements in social networks, self-esteem etc. It is also preferable for society, imho.

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

Further to my last comment, having now read Bishop Manning’s comments, he seems to be looking back to a past golden era of full employment and a “living wage” for everyone (or, to be accurate, for every man). However, this was only possible behind high tariff barriers and in a society in which, overwhelmingly, only men had paid employment. With the far more open economy we now have and with far greater female participation in the workforce (not to mention equal pay for women) we now have a choice between higher unemployment (which is the path of choice of Europe, in general) or greater wage disparities (more the choice of the Anglo world). However, even with the greater wage disparities, it is hard to argue that low paid workers are worse off than they would be in the sort of world Bishop Manning seems to be imagining. They are certainly far better off, in absolute terms, than their counterparts in 1907.

Scott Wickstein
2022 years ago

Yes, if you want to go back to the past, you have to go right back- you can’t just cherry pick the good bits.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Alex, generally labour’s position is strengthened by a tight labour market and I suspect in areas where there are skill shortages (metal trades, building trades) at the moment, this is particularly the case. Hence the concern with pattern bargaining and the impact of the Electrolux decision in these industries. The general thrust of the Workplace Relations Act (and the enterprise bargaining framework more generally) works well for higher-skilled workers and there’s definitely still a premium in pay for being well organised with a strong union. It has the opposite effect for lower-skilled workers and this is probably what the Bish is concerned about.

Incidentally, one of the claims to fame of Cardinal Moran was support for the arbitration power in the constitutional debates leading up to Federation.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

A tight labour market and the highest EVER profit share of GDP do not compute!

I agree with Manning that how can one group of employers be able to sack a person for no reason at all. Surely if the Libs were fair dinkum it should be all employers or none.

Small business just want customers to pay within 30 days however the government isn’t listening

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

It may be the highest ever profit share of GDP, but the benefits of that profit are spread more widely than ever before. Partly by the increase in direct share ownership in recent times, partly via compulsory superannuation.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

alex ,
That is irrelevant.
If the labour market is as tight as people are asserting then ipso facto more ofthe national cake should be going to wages and salaries.
It ain’t.
Thus either there is no labour shortage or for some unexplained reason workers do not wish the higher wages that spring from a tighter labour market.

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

Homer, I wasn’t trying to negate your argument, just raising an observation. Yes, it was irrelevant in the way you meant. I hope you don’t think I was stupid enough to think it was.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

alex do you mind.
I claim all rights on stupidity here!!

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

Homer, another possible reason to add to those you posited – many workers may wish to take advantage of the tighter labour market by pushing for increased wages, but are unable to do so because they no longer belong to a union. Or they may not yet be aware of the improved strength of their bargaining power.

blank
blank
2022 years ago

Does belonging to a union necessarily bring better wages and conditions?

Teaching are highly unionised, but over the past decades the relative pay of teachers has been going ever downhill.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Not necessarily, blank, but there is a correlation. Teachers are largely employed in the public sector, and many independent schools tie their salaries in one way or another to those in public schools. The government is a harder employer to bargain with because it can’t pass on its costs to its consumers – rather it has to raise taxes.

Academics (sob, sob) have also gone backwards over the past few decades. Lest I sound too self-interested, I treated with ridicule the comment made to me by a Marxist Professor of English (since fled to Scotland where no doubt he is well remunerated) that academic salaries should have been the biggest issue in the 96 election. Whatever!