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1- How has the shift from economic protectionism to free market policy affected industrial relations in Australia since the 1980s? Give a brief overview of the character of changes and their impact on industrial relations.
2- Explain why it would be misleading to equate the official statistics on the decline of industrial disputation with industrial harmony.
The foundation stone of industrial policy lies in providing suitable conditions in which firms can grow and prosper. The underlying and theoretical rational for the industrial policy lies in the understanding that in capitalist economies which are crisis prone, specific and deliberate intervention are part of the government could play a much more effective role in the economic management of industrial growth as compared to other mechanisms present in the markets (Broomhill, 1999). However the attempts to subject these structural changes and industrial development to policy have their own challenges. While the interventionists believe in strong industrial policy, the liberalists are in favor of free trade policies. Due to the inescapable nature of industrial policy, political conflict has always surrounded the various elements of industry policy. These elements include the international environment, policy agenda, infrastructure, finance, research and development, policies of labor market regarding training and development, policy of industrial relations and the welfare policy (Dockery, 1999). The Liberals argue that it is not desirable or even possible for the public principles to control the transformation taking place in industry in the capitalist economies. On the other hand, the capitalist crises theory of disproportionality propounded by Marx refers to the lack of ability among the capitalist economies to make sure that each sector of industry produces in proportion to the demands of other sectors and also to ensure that the supply works with the demand. Another justification is that there are several inherent requirements of industries like the availability of capital, maintenance of relationships based on interdependence and the industrial linkages that cannot be provided by natural market mechanisms (Eisenstein, 1996).
Industrial relations can be defined as the means through which different interests concerned with the labor market are accommodated mainly for the purpose of regulating the employment relationship. Industrial relations need to be pluralist and collectivist in their outlook. IR is concerned with the relationships arising out of and at the workplace. These are the relationships between the workers, between workers and employers and the relationships of both employers and workers with their organization. These relationships are significantly influenced by the government through the policies, programs, institutions and laws. The wider social, economical, political, cultural and technological characteristics of the country also influenced the relations.
a) Explain why it would be misleading to equate the official statistics on the decline of industrial disputation with industrial harmony.
A major problem with the industry policy of the Australia is the absence of apparent national economic goals (Robins 1993). A clear strategy is the most important requirement for all policies so that they can correlate the expected outcomes with the efficient implementation of these strategies. The key innovation and industry policy should aim at providing favorable conditions for the development of strong industry (Campbell and Burgess, 2001). It is important to note that the incompetence of the inefficiency of intervention on part of the government can cause significant problems in policy. The problem is further aggravated by the lack of coordination between previous departments of the government in Australia. It is widely recognized that any bad industry policy can have significant negative impact on the economy (Eisenstein, 1996).
Despite the numerous arguments that are given in favor of free trade, industry policy remains an inescapable element of management by government. Whether the governments adopt the keynesian approach or the liberalists approach towards intervention in the growth and development of industry, policy is needed in all major area (Gibson-Graham, 1996). Moreover there are several critical areas which are necessary for the growth of industry where the market mechanisms do not have the ability to impact significantly. There are considerable chances that the industry policy could run into problems, therefore by applying industry policy; dedicated outcomes; domestic or sectoral levels and the appropriate modes of regulation in all these elements should be taken into account. Many experts argue that at least some degree of policy is required and preferable as against a situation where industry is left completely to the market principles (Dockery, 1999). Globalization has upset the status quo that was present between the “labor” and the “capital” in the country in such a way that capital has become much more mobile in the open international environment while labor has remained somewhat immobile comparatively. Here it has to be noted that while international label migration is continuing under the globalization, but as compared to the 1970s, it has not increased significantly. This scenario places labor at a disadvantage as compared to capital. It can now hire cheaper labor in different countries which can prejudice the continuous employment prospects of the workers in originating country.
Broomhill, R. (1999). Surviving in the global jungle: Implications of global restructuring and neoliberalism for South Australia. In J. Spoehr (Ed.)
Buchanan, J. (2004). Paradoxes of significance: Australian casualisation and labour productivity (acirrt Working Paper No. 93). Sydney: acirrt, University of Sydney
Campbell, I., & Burgess, J. (2001). A New estimate of casual employment? Australian Bulletin of Labour
Colley, L. (2001). The changing face of public sector employment. Australian Journal of Public Administration
Dockery, A. M. (1999). The job network: A unique Australian experiment in the delivery of employment services (Discussion paper series No. 99/10). Murdoch University: Centre for Labour Market Research.
Eisenstein, H. (1996). Inside agitators: Australian femocrats and the State. St. Leonards, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin.
Gibson-Graham, J. K. (1996). The end of capitalism (as we knew it): A
feminist critique of political economy. Oxford: Blackwell
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