Showing posts with label jobs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jobs. Show all posts

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

FAIR GO 101: It's Time To Change The Rules

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Australian workplaces still hostile territory for women

“When asked about a range of job attributes, women placed most value on having a job where they would be treated with respect (80%), where their job was secure (80%), where the job paid well (65%), was interesting (64%) and offered the flexibility they might need (62%). The majority of women viewed their job as being useful to society (69%) and felt that their job allowed them to ‘help others’ (73%). Two in five working women (43%) said they felt stressed at work, with it more likely being an issue for younger women, those still in education, and those in lower paid or casual roles. One in five women (20%) said they felt isolated at work, particularly those self-employed and working at home. Two-thirds of women said they received paid sick (67%) and annual leave (65%). Fewer received paid parental leave (42%) and paid carers leave (43%), and one in five women were unaware whether or not they received these entitlements at work.” 

University of Sydney, News and Opinion, Significant gaps between working women's career goals and reality, 6 March 2018:

First study to examine women and future of work

Australian workplaces are not ready to meet young women's career aspirations or support their future success, according to a new national report by University of Sydney researchers.

“We are talking more about robots than we are about women in the future of work debate – this must change,” said co-author of the report, Professor Rae Cooper.
Launched today, the Women and the Future of Work report reveals the gaps and traps between young working women’s aspirations and their current working realities.

“There are significant gaps in job security, respect, access to flexibility and training,” said Dr Elizabeth Hill, co-author of the report.

“Government, businesses and industry need to step up and take action so that our highly educated and highly skilled young women are central to the future of work.”

The team of researchers from the University of Sydney’s Women, Work & Leadership Research Group, surveyed more than 2000 working women aged 16 to 40, who were representative of the workforce nationally.

The report is the first of its kind and found that young women were generally not concerned about job loss as a result of automation and economic change.

“Almost two-thirds of the women we surveyed said they didn’t fear robots coming for their jobs in the future,” Professor Cooper said.

“Our national debate about the future of work is too often a hyper-masculinised, metallic version of work.

“For young women, their picture of the future workforce is quite different: they see themselves balancing family and work commitments, and having long, meaningful careers. For this to be a reality, we need mutually beneficial flexibility in all workplaces.”

Respect and access to flexibility critical for women

The survey found being treated with respect and having job security were critical to ensuring young women’s future careers.

Despite 90 percent of women identifying access to flexibility as important, only 16 percent strongly agreed that they have access to the flexibility they need.

“Young women workers are generally optimistic about work and ready to contribute,” Dr Hill said. “But they find themselves caught in gaps between what they need and what the workforce offers.”

The majority of working women report that developing the right skills and qualifications is important for success at work (92 percent). However, only 40 percent said they can access affordable training to equip them for better jobs.

“Public policy settings, while improving, remain inadequate,” Dr Hill said. “Projected growth in feminised, low-paid jobs in health care and social assistance suggests an urgent need for government action to ensure these jobs meet the criteria of decent work.

“Current trends toward fragmentation and the contracting out of employment are undermining many of the criteria of decent work, making this a pressing policy issue for gender equality in the future of work,” Dr Hill said.

More women than robots in future workplaces

The survey also indicated young women often feel ‘disrespected’ by senior colleagues and supervisors because of their gender. This was the case both for highly paid professionals and lowpaid workers.

Ten percent of respondents said they were experiencing sexual harassment in their current workplace. Some groups of women reported higher rates of harassment including:

* women currently studying (14 percent compared to 8 percent who are not studying)
* women living with a disability (18 percent compared to 9 percent not living with a disability)
* women born in Asia or culturally and linguistically diverse women (16 percent compared to 8 percent who are not culturally or linguistically diverse).

“Employers need to commit and act to create workplaces where women are respected and valued for their expertise,” Professor Cooper said.

“There will be more women than robots in the future of work. It’s time that households, government, businesses and employers listen to them.”

Dr Hill said: “We are urgently calling on the government to facilitate and implement a public policy framework that supports young women’s career aspirations.

“We need to work towards a future where women are valued in the workplace and for their work.”

The study was funded by the University of Sydney’s Sydney Research Excellence Initiative 2020. It was authored by the Co-Directors of the University’s Women, Work & Leadership Research Group, Professor Marian Baird and Professor Rae Cooper, with Dr Elizabeth Hill, Professor Ariadne Vromen and Professor Elspeth Probyn.

The data collection and analysis for this research focused on working 16-40 year old Australians, and was undertaken by Ipsos Australia. It was collected in September-November 2017, and includes: a nationally representative online survey of 2,100 women; a survey of 500 men; a booster survey of 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women; and five in-person focus groups of working women.

Full report can be found here.

“At the time of study, women with the following characteristics were found as being less likely to be working (noting that the first of these characteristics may be age-related):

- Those who have only completed secondary school (70% compared to 86% of those who have completed tertiary education, for example);
- Those living at home with parents (71% compared to 84% of those living in their own home);
 - Women with disability (74% compared with 82% of those without disability);
- Culturally and Linguistically Diverse women (75% in comparison to 82% of women who are not Culturally and Linguistically Diverse); and
- Low-income earners (70% of those earning below $40,000 as opposed to 88% of those earning above $80,000, for example).”  

Thursday, 18 January 2018

So what does Australia's public debt look like in January 2018?

As of 5 January 2018 Australian Government public debt stood at an est. $515.6 billion at face value. Six months earlier this debt had stood at est. $500.9 billion. So government debt continues to grow.

This early January 2018 public debt breaks down as:

Other Securities

Treasury Bonds are medium to long-term debt securities that carry an annual rate of interest fixed over the life of the security, payable semi-annually.
All Treasury Bonds are exempt from non-resident interest withholding tax (IWT).

These treasury bonds were first issued between January 2006 and September 2017, with interest repayments ranging from 1.75% to 5.75% per annum due throughout 2018 and, in all but two instances the years beyond up to 2047. It is likely that at least 50% of these bonds are held by foreign investors.

The Turnbull Government appears to be using reduced government spending by way of funding cuts to essential government services and ‘reformed’ welfare payments in order to manage a portion of this debt – the remainder possibly being serviced by further bond issuance.

Given the potential to retain a higher dollar amount of cash transfers for longer periods in government coffers if the Cashless Debit Card is universally introduced for welfare recipients under retirement age, then I rather suspect that future welfare recipients may be disproportionately servicing this debt if Turnbull & Co have their way.

And while considering that growing public debt, the sustained federal government assault on safety-net welfare since 2013 and the attack on penalty rates in 2017, readers miight like to consider this……

The Australian Parliament consists of 226 elected members sitting as MPs or senators.

Between them they are reported to own 524 properties and, in addition to their salaries and any additional remuneration for ministerial position or committee membership, they also receive generous parliamentary entitlements of which they freely avail themselves:

The Australian, 5 January 2018:

Australians have endured their longest period of falling living standards in more than a quarter of a century as growth in costs outstripped earnings for the fifth consecutive quarter, leaving households worse off than they were six years ago.

After allowing for inflation, taxes and interest costs, average household incomes dropped 1.6 per cent in the year to September, capping a sustained fall in ­living standards that has not been seen since the 1990-91 recession.

Economists say more than half the cost increases for households are being driven by electricity, rent, health, new housing and tobacco, while modest wage rises are being partially absorbed by workers being pushed into higher tax brackets……

After adjusting for living costs, interest and taxes, average earnings in the three months to September were 0.7 per cent lower than in the same period of 2011, which marked the peak of the ­resources boom.

Over the previous six years from 2005, households had seen an average improvement in their living standards of 17 per cent.

AMP chief economist Shane Oliver said the mid-year budget update delivered before Christmas provided only limited scope for tax cuts.

“To be anything more than ‘sandwich and milkshake’ tax cuts and still maintain a trajectory ­towards a budget surplus by 2020-21, they would have to be offset by spending savings elsewhere. That is where the politics kicks in and the government has had difficulty getting things through the Senate,” he said.

Dr Oliver said if the government was successful in getting the 0.5 per cent increase in the Medicare Levy through the Senate, it would offset the benefit of any tax cut. The Medicare Levy increase is scheduled to start on July 1 next year and increase personal taxes by $3.6 billion in its first year and $4.3bn in the second.

Although living standards stopped rising after 2011, the ­decline since the middle of 2016 is new and reflects both the fall in wage growth and an increase in tax payments.

The ABS Wage Price Index shows a 1.9 per cent rise last year, but this is measured before tax and records the average increase for each job. National accounts show that personal income tax collections are rising much faster than pre-tax wages, partly ­because more wage income is being pushed into higher tax brackets. They show a 4 per cent lift in taxes per capita over the year to September, absorbing 60 per cent of the increase in wage income per person, which rose only 1 per cent.

Much of the very strong ­employment growth in the past year has been in lower paying jobs in the services sector, which has reduced average incomes overall.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Will all working women in Australia ever achieve equal pay?

Most Australians appear to understand that gender-based discrimination against women is a fact of life females of all ages have to cope with at some point in their lives - often at multiple points in their lives.

This poll gives a clear indication of the level of community awareness of this issue.

Essential Report, Sexism and Discrimination Against Women, 5 December 2017:

A majority of respondents think there is a lot or some sexism in the media (64%), politics (60%), advertising (60%), workplaces (57%) and sport (56%).

Women were more likely than men to think there is a lot or some sexism in all areas – but especially in workplaces (women 67%, men 46%) and politics (70%/49%).

There has been some small changes in these figures since this question was asked in January last year – sexism in workplaces has dropped 4%, in the media up 6%, in sport down 4% and in schools up 8%. However, there has been more significant change in the differences between men and women on some issues. On sexism in the workplace the gap between perceptions of men and women has increased from 12% to 21%.

Despite society knowing that gender-based discrimination against women exists, institutions put in place by government to allegedly mitigate inequality and ensure fairness still manage to entrench such discrimination.

The shorter version of the observations and conclusions set out below is that if you are a female worker on minimum wage working in an industry sector which employs significantly more women than men, then you still cannot reliably look to either the private sector or the Liberal-Nationals version of the Fair Work Commission for the equal pay first promised by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in 1972.

Excerpt from Barbara Broadway & Richard Wilkinson, Melbourne University (October 2017), Probing the effects of the Australian system of minimum wages on the gender wage gap, pp.3-4:

In Australia, minimum wages are binding for a large part of the labour market: in 2014, 24% of all employees were paid the applicable minimum wage. Based on the above studies, one would therefore expect minimum wages in Australia to reduce the gender wage gap substantially. However, somewhat unusually, the Australian labour market contains many different minimum wages arising from industry and occupation-based ‘awards’ made by an industrial court. These awards specify legally binding minimum rates of pay, which vary considerably across occupations and industries, applying not only to the low-pay sector of the labour market, but to occupations of all levels, including high-skilled, high-paid jobs such as airline pilots, university professors and medical practitioners.1 The effects of these many minimums will therefore depend, in quite complex ways, on how men and women are distributed across occupations and industries and how minimums are distributed across occupations and industries.

The industrial court does not set different wages for men and women. However, it could, in principle, produce a gender wage gap by setting lower minimum wages in occupations and industries in which women are relatively more concentrated. A gender wage gap caused by legally set minimum wages could therefore be greater than or less than the gender wage gap created by market wages.

Indeed, the raw median gender wage gap among full-time employees in Australia is, at 18%, in the middle range of all OECD countries (Figure 1)2, providing a hint that the minimum wage system does not reduce the gender wage gap as much as might be expected given the high proportion of employees that are paid the applicable minimum wage. This is reinforced by the finding that the raw mean gender wage gap among full-time employees is approximately 20% (and indeed the gap has persisted at this level since the early 1990s (ABS 2016), despite relative growth in female educational attainment and work experience)…….

We therefore doubt that the observed job-femaleness penalty is actually derived from compensating differentials determined by the Fair Work Commission. Rather, what seems more likely is that the award-wage decisions have been influenced by observed “typical” wages in industries and occupations, and male-dominated fields have benefited from a long history of strong unionisation that led to higher average wages.

In any case, irrespective of whether non-skill-related differences in award wages are justified by other job characteristics, what is clear is that the gender wage gap among minimum-wage employees is greater than it would be were award wages neutral with respect to the gender composition of jobs.

Indeed, the gender wage gap within the award system would probably be negative if minimum wages depended only on the skill requirements of jobs, since the observed human capital of female minimum-wage employees is on average greater than the observed human capital of male minimum-wage employees…..

Comparing mean wages of award-reliant men and women shows there is indeed a gender pay gap among award-reliant employees, although it is considerably smaller than among non-award-reliant employees. The mean wage is $20.74 for men and $18.63 for women, corresponding to a mean gender pay gap of approximately 10%, compared to 19% among non-award employees.

1 These minimum wages are, however, less likely to be binding in high-paid occupations, where greater proportions of employees receive a salary that is above the applicable award rate.
2 Note that the OECD estimates are not entirely comparable across all countries because of differences in the way the median gender gap is calculated. For example, the wages variable may be measured over an hourly, weekly, monthly or annual time-frame. Figure 1 nonetheless provides reasonable indicative information on where Australia fits relative to other OECD countries.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Australians with lower incomes are dying sooner from potentially preventable diseases than their wealthier counterparts

The Conversation, 28 November 2017:

Australians with lower incomes are dying sooner from potentially preventable diseases than their wealthier counterparts, according to our new report.

Australia’s Health Tracker by Socioeconomic Status, released today, tracks health risk factors, disease and premature death by socioeconomic status. It shows that over the past four years, 49,227 more people on lower incomes have died from chronic diseases – such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer – before the age of 75 than those on higher incomes.

A steady job or being engaged in the community is important to good health. Australia’s unemployment rate is low, but this hides low workforce participation, and a serious problem with underemployment. Casual workers are often not getting enough hours, and more and more Australians are employed on short-term contracts.

There’s a vicious feedback loop – if your health is struggling, it’s harder to build your wealth. If you’re unable to work as much as you want, you can’t build your wealth, so it’s much tougher to improve your health.

Our team tracked health risk factors, disease and premature death by socioeconomic status, which measures people’s access to material and social resources as well as their ability to participate in society. We’ve measured in quintiles – with one fifth of the population in each quintile.

We developed health targets and indicators based on the World Health Organisation’s 2025 targets to improve health around the globe.

The good news is that for many of the indicators, the most advantaged in the community have already reached the targets.

The bad news is that poor health is not just an issue affecting the most vulnerable in our community, it significantly affects the second-lowest quintile as well. Almost ten million Australians with low incomes have much greater risks of developing preventable chronic diseases, and of dying from these earlier than other Australians.

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Turnbull Government employment services program a mess

Meanwhile in Australian Minister for Employment and Liberal Senator for Western Australia  Michaelia Cash’s ministerial portfolio…..

The Australian, 31 October 2017:

The Coalition’s flagship $7.3 billion employment services program has been branded a “hopeless mess” with fewer than 40 per cent of unemployed clients finding long-term work, more than a third of job agencies performing so badly they should be disqualified and warnings that fraud may go undetected.

The Australian has uncovered evidence of job agencies inducing or harassing former clients for pay slips from their new employers to claim taxpayer ­bonuses worth thousands of dollars each.

Agencies are handed incentive payments four weeks after a ­client starts a job and again at three months and cumulatively can get up to $13,750 at six months if the client stays in the job.

Fewer than 40 per cent of ­clients remain employed after six months and almost half of the $1.7bn the department spends on the program each year goes on administration.

An analysis by The Australian of the five-year program ­reveals 569 employment services sites out of 1648 around the nation have failed a measure set by the ­Department of Employment that requires their business be reduced or taken away entirely, but only 12 companies have had their share reduced.

The problem is particularly ­severe in Western Australia, the home state of Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, where just 14 per cent of the 107 employment services sites met the grade for service standards. Only two sites were operating above the national average but the department has “deferred” any shake-up of the private companies “to give providers an opportunity to ­improve their performance”.

The bonuses under the re­designed “jobactive” program launched by the Coalition are big business and, in many cases, ­securing them is the only revenue keeping the organisations afloat.

The Australian understands there are active moves within the Labor Party to reconsider the ­entire employment services model, and while opposition ­employment services spokesman Ed Husic was tight-lipped on the issue in August, he admonished the system in a speech to service providers.

“We spend roughly $9bn on government jobs programs, the second largest area of procurement outside of defence,” he said.

“We have 730,000 people out of work … 40,000 employment services consultants and only 20 per cent of the people helped by the government’s jobs programs find work for more than 26 weeks.”

The Salvation Army lost more than $1 million a month in the first 18 months of the scheme launched in July 2015 because it was not qualifying for the bonus payments it needed to.

David Thompson, the chief executive of Jobs Australia, the peak organisation for non-profit providers, said the system was a “hopeless mess”, not “hugely ­effective” and had been run to the advantage of the largest companies.

“On average, the staff who work at these places have a high-school-level education and a caseload of 150 jobseekers,” he said. “That’s average. Some of them have 300 people they have to see in a week. They do not have a ­relationship with anyone. It’s cheap.”….

The department declined to release the names of the companies in the “low-impact breaches” because it said it was “concerned that publishing such information may cause commercial harm to the relevant providers”.

Of the 65 providers contracted to deliver employment support services on behalf of the federal government, the Department of Employment has classified more than 43 per cent of having a risk rating of “extreme or high”.

Of this number, more than half were rated extreme or high due to concerns about their ongoing financial viability, more than one-third due to overall service standards, 28 per cent were deemed compliance risks and ­almost 4 per cent were categorised as being at risk of fraud.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Coalition senators cut and ran from their own Ensuring Integrity bill

Amends the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 to: include certain serious criminal offences as a new category of ‘prescribed offence’ for the purposes of the automatic disqualification regime in relation to registered organisations; establish an offence for a disqualified person to continue to act as an official or in a way that influences the affairs of an organisation; allow the Federal Court to prohibit officials from holding office in certain circumstances or if they are otherwise not a fit and proper person; allow the Federal Court to cancel the registration of an organisation on a range of grounds; allow applications to be made to the Federal Court for a range of other orders; expand the grounds on which the Federal Court may order remedial action to deal with governance issues in an organisation; expressly provide that the Federal Court may appoint an administrator to an organisation or part of an organisation as part of a remedial scheme; introduce a public interest test for amalgamations of registered organisations; and make minor and technical amendments.

The Australian Senate refused to support this bill on 17 October 2017 so the Turnbull Government read the bill a second time, had a short speech read into Hansard and immediately adjourned the debate.

The Senate next sits on 13 November 2017 and one suspects that attempts to swing the cross benchers towards supporting this bill has ratcheted up more than a few notches.

If you don’t agree with this almost constant attack on the existence of unions in Australia then your state senators can be contacted here.

Monday, 23 October 2017

There is more than one path to academic success and a job you love

Sharna Clemmett on Facebook:

On Friday I gave a speech at my old high school, for the year 12 final assembly. I was asked to publish it, so here it is.

1. I am a former Kadina student. I was in year 12 in 1996.

2. It is 21 years since I last attended this fine school. That makes it 21 years since I dropped my bundle, dropped out of school, and spent about a year on Centrelink benefits, wondering what life was all about, what to do with it, and why.

3. There you have it: the thing that for years I felt was something of which to be ashamed: I never obtained a Higher School Certificate. I am a high school dropout.

4. At your stage, I didn’t have a plan. My plan fell apart in year 12. I moved out of home when I was almost 17. I was sharing a house with a fellow Kadina student and her 6 month old baby. We had very little money. It was tough. Centrelink, in its wisdom, gave me a choice, which was the choice required by the rules: either study full time, or look for work full time. You are not eligible for out-of-home benefits if you study part time.

5. It all got too hard, and I dropped out.

6. At this point, it doesn’t sound like a success story in the making. But really, that was just the start of my journey on a windy road. If I’d known that at the time, I would have been much less despondent about my life.

7. After I dropped out of school, Centrelink gave me another choice: undertake a 6 month, government-funded training, work-for-the-dole program, or you lose your benefits.

8. Off I trotted to work at St Vincents Hospital in Lismore as a Patient Service Assistant. I worked in the surgical ward. I rode my rusty bicycle across the Lismore basin to work every day, starting at 6:45. I learnt some medical terminology. I wiped down and made beds; pushed beds and trolleys; helped wash patients; ordered stock for the ward; organised patient notes. Even though I had no desire to ever be a nurse or a doctor, and there was nothing in particular about a hospital that appealed to me as a place to spend my working life, I always made sure I talked to the people around me, and I worked hard. I had sore feet at the end of most days.

9. At one point I worked out, on average, that if my fortnightly Centrelink payment had been calculated based on the hours I was working, my hourly rate was $3.20 an hour. I was always at work early, I often worked half way through my lunch break, and I often did not finish until after my rostered time.

10. Because I had demonstrated that I worked hard and effectively, the hospital employed me as a casual in administration at the end of the training program. After about 6 months I realised that this – working in hospital administration – was likely to be the pinnacle of my working success if I stayed where I was. I decided to move to Sydney to see what other opportunities there might be.

11. I was in Sydney selling insurance from a call centre (“welcome to NZI, this is Sharna, how can I help you?”), and I got a call suggesting I contact a someone about a job at a new hospital.

12. A senior executive from St Vincents, who had noticed me working hard, had moved to Sydney and was involved in starting up North Shore Private Hospital in St Leonards.

13. So that was how I landed a role in admissions and reception for the Day Surgery and endoscopy unit at North Shore Private. I still hadn’t decided that I wanted to work in a hospital, or be a doctor or a nurse – but I had decided I didn’t like selling insurance in a call centre. So sure, why not?

14. After I had been at North Shore Private for about a year – always at work a bit early, usually leaving late, and making sure the day surgery admission process worked like it should, an anaesthetist asked me whether I would be interested in a change in employment. He said his rooms were looking for someone, and he thought I’d be good. I said I wasn’t looking to move, but I’d call and have a chat anyway. Why not?

15. That’s how I ended up managing the diaries of 42 anaesthetists who worked all over Sydney. I was paid very well in that position, because the responsibility was huge. If I didn’t do my job, there would be a surgeon standing around at a hospital waiting to start an operation with no anaesthetist. That happened once. Only once. A vascular surgeon was standing in theatres with patients waiting and no anaesthetist. There was fury. It still makes me feel slightly ill to think about it. At first, a number of the anaesthetists didn’t think I was up to that job. I was only 20. It required a lot of tact and discretion. They thought I was too young. Damn I worked hard to prove them wrong.

16. Then I got a bit bored. I thought I’d start a tertiary preparation course by distance education, to try to get into university, but didn’t finish it. I sat the STAT test. 6 years after I had dropped out of school I was offered a spot in a communications course at UTS, as a mature age student.

17. That was a course requiring a 98 TER, or tertiary entrance ranking. Absurd. I still can’t help but think the university made a mistake with my application.

18. Because I had forged such good relationships in my work, and worked so hard, my employers sat me down and asked me how many hours I could work whilst I went to uni, and how much they needed to pay me so that I could live. They increased my hourly rate so I could survive. Had I worked on the basis that I would be paid just to turn up to work, as opposed to being paid to get the job done in the best possible way, that would not have happened.

19. Anyway, a year into uni, I picked up a few law subjects as electives. I didn’t think I’d be any good at law. I’d never had any desire to be a lawyer. I just wanted to see whether it might be an option. Turns out it was. They let me into law.

20. In my second year, I applied for summer clerkships. A clerkship is supposed to be an ideal way to start your career in the law: law firms get in keen law students over summer, then offer them jobs after they graduate. I didn’t get one. I was gutted. So I looked for an alternative, and went and worked for a barrister in chambers. Turns out that barrister was then appointed to the AWB Inquiry, or the “Wheat for Weapons scandal”, as Kevin Rudd called it. The barrister took me along with him. At one point, when I was instructing senior counsel at the Bar Table in the inquiry, I wondered what would happen if all those barristers, and Commissioner Cole, knew what a fraud I was - that I was a high school drop out, from Lismore, sitting in the middle of their Royal Commission.

21. The contacts I made in the Royal Commission (and my university results) have helped me at every stage of my career since. After the Royal Commission I got a job working as a tipstaff to a Judge in the Supreme Court. The Judge asked me why I had not finished school, and told me I should not be ashamed of not having finished school. He was much more concerned about why I did not get a distinction in the Law of Evidence.

22. I went on to practice as a lawyer for 3 years. Then I sat the Bar Exams. Once again, I did not believe I was up to it. I did not think I would pass. But I worked hard and I passed.

23. So here I am. High school drop out; barrister in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. [**put on robes]

24. It’s funny, I used to hate my school uniform. Now, in the course of my work, I often get dressed up in this, to run trials in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. A horse hair wig. It’s funny how our preferences change over time.

25. This year, it is 21 years since I left Kadina without a Higher School Certificate.

26. It is 10 years since I was admitted to practice as a lawyer of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

27. It is 5 years since I qualified as a barrister at the NSW Bar.

28. Soon you will be sitting your final HSC exams, then you’ll get your results. You’ll be given a university admission ranking, if that’s what you’re going to do. This might also be looked at by future employers.

29. This is a pretty scary time. There’s a bit of pressure on you. Even if your parents and teachers are not putting pressure on you, it’s likely you feel the weight of their expectations, or at least their hopes for you. Even if you don’t feel that from other people, it’s quite likely you’re putting that pressure on yourself anyway. Then there’s the question of “what am I going to do afterwards?”; “what does the world have in store for me?”

30. Had I tried to pick up all the pieces at once - done my HSC, and gone straight to uni - after I dropped my bundle in 1996, there is no prospect I would be where I am today. I wouldn’t have thought to study law. I just worked with what I felt I could at the time. And I worked my arse off, consistently. I worked my way through from shit kicker jobs, to well paying jobs, to excelling at university. I found a career I love.

31. If you drop your bundle, just pick up the pieces you can carry and work with them. Do something, and do it to the best of your ability. Make meaningful connections and use them. People will respect you if they see you work hard.

32. I have been told that my life has been like a series of lily pads, in which I just jump from one to the next. But I made those lily pads, dammit. And you can make yours. The secret to your success is: you.

33. So here are a few loose rules to live by:
1. First: No matter what result you get in the HSC, the secret to your success in life is you. It’s not numbers on a page. They may help. But it comes down to you: what you put in dictates what you get out. You are the secret to your success.
2. Second: Take opportunities when they arise, even if you don’t think you want them. (It’s amazing what doors a seemingly shitty job can open.) If you miss an opportunity you think you want, take the next one.
3. Third: If you drop your bundle, just pick up the bits you can carry and work with them.
4. Fourth: Talk to people and make meaningful connections. The connections you make will help you through, give you a leg up, and lead to opportunities that may surprise you. And I’m not just talking about work or career opportunities. I mean life opportunities.
5. Fifth: You might have a plan, but you can get to where you want to be, one way or another, and you can succeed, by a different, perhaps more windy, path than the path you have mapped out in your mind.


Wednesday, 4 October 2017

More evidence that the far-right in politics and industry are determined to drive working class Australians into generational poverty?

Wage fraud, wage freezes, cuts to penalty rates and companies scrapping enterprise agreements will reduce the retirement savings of millions of workers by $100 billion by the time they retire, a report has found.

The report, the Consequences of Wage Suppression for Australia's Superannuation System by the Australia Institute's Centre for Future Work, says the government will pick up more than one third of the cost, equivalent to $37 billion in lost taxes due to lower super contributions and higher age pension payouts.

It estimates that three million people, or one in four workers, have experienced some form of wage suppression, which will adversely impact their super payout.

The author of the report, Jim Stanford, describes wage suppression as an economic "time bomb". He says while individual families are grappling with the immediate impact of wage cuts, the long-term impact when they retire is yet to play out.


Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute, Jim Stanford, Ph.D., The Consequences of Wage Suppression for Australia’s Superannuation System, September 2017, excerpt from Summary:

Wages and salaries in Australia’s labour market are exhibiting their weakest growth in the history of the relevant statistics. Hourly wages are growing at less than 2 percent per year, and real wages (adjusted for consumer price inflation) are stagnant or falling. The unprecedented stagnation of wages reflects many factors, including chronic weakness in labour demand and the erosion of traditional wage-setting institutions (such as minimum wages and collective bargaining). But it also reflects, for millions of Australian workers, the aggressive efforts by employers (both private- and public- sector) to deliberately suppress wages below normal levels. These wage-suppression strategies take many forms: from the imposition of temporary wage freezes, to the unilateral termination of enterprise agreements, to the outright theft of wages through below-minimum payments. These pro-active measures to suppress labour incomes, breaking the normal link between labour incomes and labour productivity (which continues to grow at over 1 percent per year1), impose great harm on affected workers, their families, government budgets, and Australia’s macroeconomic performance.
There is another important consequence of these wage suppression strategies that is often not sufficiently understood by workers, employers, policy-makers and regulators: their flow-through impact on Australia’s retirement income system. When workers’ wages are unduly suppressed, then the normal flow of employer contributions into their superannuation accounts is also constrained. They will have smaller superannuation balances when they retire, and will consequently experience a lasting reduction in post-retirement incomes. Moreover, governments will share a significant portion of the resulting damage: they will collect less in taxes on superannuation contributions and investment income, and will pay out more in means-tested Age Pension benefits (since workers’ superannuation incomes will be smaller). These significant, lasting consequences from wage-suppression strategies should be documented and considered. They provide a powerful motive for all stakeholders to challenge employers’ wage-cutting initiatives. They also should be of direct concern to superannuation trustees and administrators – since the capacity of the superannuation capacity of the superannuation system to provide decent, secure retirement incomes for its members is being undermined by this growing pattern of wage suppression.
This report presents results from several quantitative simulations of the impact of wage suppression on superannuation entitlements of affected workers, their long-run retirement incomes, and corresponding fiscal effects on government. The report considers several specific scenarios, corresponding to different instances of pro-active wage suppression strategies that have been experienced by Australian workers in recent years. It traces through the impact of those policies on workers’ wages, superannuation accumulations, and retirement incomes. The simulations also describe the spill-over impacts on government (arising from reduced taxes collected on superannuation contributions and investment income, and increased Age Pension payouts). The simulations confirm that:
* Wage suppression undermines superannuation accumulations by automatically reducing employer contributions. Moreover, the damage is compounded over time due to the subsequent loss of investment income.
* Even temporary wage restraint measures (like temporary wage freezes) have lasting negative impacts on superannuation balances, by altering the trajectory of a worker’s wages for the rest of their career.
* The most dramatic instances of wage suppression – the termination of enterprise agreements by employers, and resulting large wage reductions as workers are placed back on minimum award conditions – can reduce the superannuation balance of a retiring worker by as much as $270,000.
* More modest wage suppressing policies (such as temporary nominal wage freezes, producing real wage reductions that are then sustained through a worker’s remaining years of service) reduce retirement superannuation balances by $30,000 or more.
* Government bears a share of the resulting losses, through both reduced tax collections before affected workers retire, and increased Age Pension payouts after they retire. In the worst-case scenarios, governments can experience fiscal losses of over $50,000 per worker (in real 2017 dollar terms).
* Millions of Australians have been confronted with one or more of these forms of wage suppression from their employers, so the aggregate impacts across the economy are enormous. Based on plausible estimates of the number of workers confronted with each form of wage suppression, the aggregate loss of superannuation balances on retirement (if the pattern of wage suppression is maintained) could ultimately exceed $100 billion (in real 2017 dollars) by the time affected workers retire, and the aggregate fiscal cost to government could reach $37 billion (in real 2017 dollars)………..
1 A recent Department of Finance research paper on productivity trends confirms that labour productivity continues to grow at typical historical rates – advancing at an annual average rate of 1.8 percent over the last five years alone. See Simon Campbell and Harry Withers, “Australian Productivity Trends and the Effect of Structural Change, “ August 28 2017, PublicationsAndMedia/Publications/2017/ Australian-productivity-trends-and-the-effect-of-structuralchange