Jul 27, 2017

Business 3

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Business 3


Women have had to fight for their rights for a long time. For example, the right of women to vote was granted in the USA only in 1920! But there are still many fields where acceptance and equality in compensation are still to be desired. One such field is the workplace, and the following two articles shed a light on the issue of gender within this setting. The Australian industrial relations system has undergone significant upheaval in the last few decades, with a push towards decentralization. Women have traditionally relied on centralized wage setting and other statutory arrangements to improve their chances of equitable outcomes. One factor to which the widening gender pay gap is attributed is the introduction of enterprise and individual agreements (van Gellecum 2008). Using the Australia at Work study, this paper explores women\`s experiences at work, focusing on their position in the labor market and their role in bargaining at the workplace. Using the Australia at Work study this paper examines the quality of women\`s employment in terms of how they are engaged and the types of work they in which they are engaged. Evidence of men and women\`s levels of bargaining power and involvement in workplace negotiation is also provided. The improvement and maintenance of many women\`s working conditions will rest on the success or failure of the low-paid bargaining stream. » Jump to indexing (document details) Full Text (6014 words) Copyright National Institute of Labour Studies 2009 [Headnote] Abstract The Australian industrial relations system has undergone significant upheaval in the last few decades, with a push towards decentralisation. Women have traditionally relied on centralised wage setting and other statutory arrangements to improve their chances of equitable outcomes. One factor to which the widening gender pay gap is attributed is the introduction of enterprise and individual agreements (van Gellecum 2008). Using the Australia at Work study, this paper explores women\`s experiences at work, focusing on their position in the labour market and their role in bargaining at the workplace. Women are more likely to be found in part-time, low-paid and low-qualified jobs, which limit their ability to negotiate better employment outcomes. Regardless of their position in the labour market, however, women tend to rely on award arrangements to determine their pay and conditions. Any policies that undermine these arrangements are likely to contribute to inequitable outcomes for women. Achieving equitable outcomes for Australian women in work is a struggle that is only made more difficult by the continuing upheaval of the industrial relations system. Since the 1990s, significant change has been made to labour law and, consequently, the way employers and employees negotiate pay and conditions. Australia has gone from a centralised wage fixing system in the 1980s to unrestrained and unmonitored individual and collective bargaining in the mid-2000s. Women were particularly vulnerable to the impacts of the Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Act 2005 and the individualisation of bargaining due to their weaker position in the labour market (Pocock et al. 2008). In the Fair Work Act 2009, the Rudd Government has reversed the strong emphasis on individual bargaining and has placed the focus on collective bargaining to improve and maintain labour standards. While the safety net has been extended to ten National Employment Standards for all employees, awards have been reduced in number and now contain only ten award-specific matters. The Howard Government\`s reform agenda, Work Choices, brought the issue of working conditions and industrial relations back into the electoral spotlight. While the broader industrial relations system has been debated and altered, women continue to face particular challenges. Despite their increased participation in the labour market, women still hold the primary caring responsibilities and seek to manage both work and family. Further, women tend to work in poorly paid occupations and industries, in positions of low skill. They traditionally have had limited representation in bargaining and hold many precarious employment positions. Using the Australia at Work study this paper examines the quality of women\`s employment in terms of how they are engaged and the types of work they in which they are engaged. Evidence of men and women\`s levels of bargaining power and involvement in workplace negotiation is also provided. This information is used to assess how differential bargaining power impacts on women and their industrial arrangements. We then speculate on how women\`s reliance on particular arrangements may impact on their working conditions under the Fair Work Act, arguing that women workers are particularly vulnerable under the Fair Work Act, which advocates enterprise bargaining as the way to improve working conditions beyond the basic safety net. The improvement and maintenance of many women\`s working conditions will rest on the success or failure of the lowpaid bargaining stream. Women\`s Place in the Labour Market The male full-time breadwinner model of employment is still a significant barrier to gender equity in the workplace. It is a barrier to being engaged in rewarding work without neglecting non-work responsibilities and limits the opportunities for career development, promotion and pay. The main solution in Australia for women who want to be both engaged in paid and unpaid work is to \`downshift\` to part-time employment. Australian and UK research has established that part-time work experience has a detrimental impact on women\`s earnings (Chalmers and Hill 2007). Further, women\`s traditional concentration in \`feminised\` occupations such as teaching and nursing and in services industries such as hospitality and retail has meant that clear gender lines are drawn in the labour market. This has facilitated the inequities in men\`s and women\`s pay and working conditions. Segmentation into low-paid occupations and industries has, in turn, resulted in restricted \`access to bargaining power, a limited presentation in bargaining structures and minimal access to over-award payments. (Smith 2003, p.90). Women have traditionally relied on minimum pay and conditions provided through the award system. More recently, however, awards have been relegated to \`safety net\` status and can no longer be relied upon to limit gender wage disparities (van Gellecum et al. 2008, p.47). It was argued that enterprise bargaining would enable women to negotiate more equitable and flexible outcomes for themselves. But research has showed that women\`s interests are marginalised at the workplace level (Boreham et al. 2006). The widening gender pay gap, to, has been attributed to the advent of enterprise bargaining, particularly, non-union collective agreements (van Gellecum et al. 2008). These types of agreements put women at particular risk because of the lower union density in female-dominated industries and the need for union advocacy in the valuation of women\`s skills. The advancement of decentralisation - from enterprise to individual bargaining, particularly under Work Choices - put women in an even weaker position. The changes experienced by many of the low paid women under Work Choices were the result of unilateral decisions made by employers and the lack of any opportunity for real negotiation (Pocock et al. 2008, p.481). In a qualitative study of low paid women workers, Pocock et al. (2008) found that Work Choices had impacted on women\`s job security, income, voice, working time and redundancy pay. The lack of power to negotiate affected not only women\`s working conditions but also their ability to manage their non-work responsibilities. Low-paid women workers reported less control over their working hours, which undermined their ability to fulfil their caring responsibilities. The Fair Work Act 2009 has only limited provisions for individual negotiation through Individual Flexibility Agreements (IFA) provisions in awards and agreements. The centrepiece of the new laws is collective agreement-making,. There is, however, no distinction between union and non-union bargaining but rather a reliance on the notion of \`good-faith\` bargaining. Research has shown that there are substantially poorer outcomes from non-union bargaining (Evesson et al. 2007). The \`scaling down\` of the award system and the promotion of collective bargaining are likely to have noticeable consequences for women who have traditionally had relied more than men on the award system for the setting of their pay and conditions. Methodology: Australia at Work Australia at Work is a longitudinal telephone survey of 8,341 people aged 16-58 years who were in the labour force in March 2006 (prior to the implementation of Work Choices on 27 March 2006). This paper reports on the first collection of data that occurred in March to July 2007. The first survey wave asked respondents about their current employment situation as well as that in March 2006. The sample size of female employees is n=3,198 and for male employees it is n=3,258. New entrants to the labour force after March 2006 are excluded from this study. This may have a small impact on the findings relating to female labour force participants, as women tend to move in and out of the labour force in response to their child bearing and caring responsibilities. The data have been weighted to reflect the population by sex, age, location and union membership (for more details see van Wanrooy et al. 2007). Employment Engagement: Quality and Quantity There are two main areas where men\`s and women\`s employments differ: first, the way in which an employee is engaged and, second, the type of work they are engaged in. The first aspect refers to the form of employment such as permanent or casual, and whether it is part-time or full-time work. The second refers to the content of work such as skills used and autonomy and control of tasks. This paper explores both. The majority (74 per cent) of part-time jobs are held by women, while men occupy 66 per cent of all full-time jobs. Motivations for participating in part-time employment differ among men and women. For men, part-time jobs are really the domain of the young who are studying and need the employment income to get by. More than half (57 per cent) of men in part-time jobs are aged 16 to 24 years and 53 per cent currently study. For women, however, part-time employment is the domain of women with caring responsibilities: 45 per cent of female employees in part-time jobs are aged 25-44 and 47 per cent have children aged under 16 years in the household. Table 1 shows the incidence of life course factors, such as the presence of children and participation in education, on the distribution of full-time and part-time work by gender. The presence of children is not a major factor contributing to part-time employment for men. Only 14 per cent of men in part-time employment have children - this is equivalent to fewer than 100,000 men. The rates of permanent, causal and contract employment are similar among men and women in full-time jobs. Women in part-time jobs are more likely to be employed on a permanent basis (48 per cent compared to 25 per cent of men in part-time jobs) and male part-time employees are more likely to be casually employed (68 per cent compared to 46 per cent of female part-time employees). Because of the prevalence of casual employment in part-time jobs, however, women are more likely to be employed on a casual basis overall - they hold 58 per cent of all casual jobs. Casual employment is often precarious, with no access to paid leave and often unpredictable hours of work. These conditions make it difficult for women with caring responsibilities to manage both work and family. The skill level that is perceived to be involved in the job in which a person is employed can heavily shape their working conditions and experiences at work. Those with highly valued or in-demand skills have more bargaining power and can negotiate more desirable conditions of employment. While the issue of skill shortages is a prevalent one in the Australian labour market, it applies only to some occupations. There is still a sizeable part of the labour force employed in low-skilled and low-paid jobs, which are in relatively low demand. Studies have shown that Work Choices had the greatest impact on these workers because of their minimal capacity to negotiate with their employers (Pocock, et al. 2008; Evesson et al. 2007; van Wanrooy et al. 2007, pp.44-54). Women\`s role in workplace bargaining is examined later, but first Table 2 displays the skill levels in which women and men are employed. This paper uses the skill levels outlined in the Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). The conceptual model for ANZSCO is based on the level and specialisation of skill required to perform the occupational tasks. There are five skill levels measured by the level of formal education and training, the amount of previous experience and on-the-job training. Skill level 1 is the highest and is commensurate with a bachelor degree or higher, or five years of relevant experience. Skill level 5 is the lowest and commensurate with secondary education and/or a short period of on-the-job training; and in some cases no training or formal qualification is required. There are areas for possible contention with the skill classification of some occupations; for example, child carers are classified as skill level 4 which corresponds with a Certificate Il or III. The real contention here is with the accreditation process and the undervaluation of feminised work. ANZSCO skill levels provide a useful category of analysis as they correspond with pay levels the perceived values of the jobs and bargaining power. Men and women are equally likely to be employed at the top 2 skill levels. The differences occur among skill levels 3 and 4, reflecting gendered occupational patterns. Skill level 3 is commensurate with a trade qualification and thus tends to entail male-dominated occupations, while skill level 4 tends to comprise more female-dominated occupations such as clerical and administrative positions. These two skill levels are particularly distinct in terms of skill shortages and demand. The resources boom in Australia has led to higher demand for trade qualifications (skill level 3); but the same cannot be said for those jobs at skill level 4. Previous analysis confirms the disparity between the two skill levels. Examination of all five skill levels has highlighted distinct employment outcomes and experiences of employees in the top three skill levels compared to those in the bottom two (van Wanrooy et al. 2007, p. 26). The lower-skill group is indicative of Year 12 while the high-skill group reflects above Year 12 skills. Women are more likely to be employed in the lower-skilled group (46 per cent) compared to men (36 per cent). Table 2 confirms that the skill level of part-time work is fundamentally different for women and men. Almost two-fifths (38 per cent) of female part-time employees are employed in the top two skill levels (compared to 24 per cent of male parttime employees); while two-thirds (68 per cent) of male part-time employees are employed in the bottom two skill levels. Full-time positions tend to be in the higher skill levels, with more than half of these positions in skill levels 1 and 2. The skill level composition for male and female full-time employees reflects the overall pattern mentioned previously, where there are more men employed in skill level 3 and more women at skill level 4. The skill level of a job is also related to the years of relevant on-the-job experience or the level of responsibility within the job. One-third (33 per cent) of women in parttime jobs have been in the same jobs for more than 5 years. This is substantially higher than men in part-time jobs (14 percent). Men in part-time jobs are more likely not to have been employed in the previous year (11 per cent compared to 5 per cent of women) or to have changed jobs in the last year (22 per cent compared to 15 per cent). Job mobility and tenure are similar among men and women in full-time employment. Women in part-time jobs are more likely to be in managerial or supervisory positions than men in part-time jobs (21 per cent compared to 15 per cent). Male full-time employees are only slightly more likely to occupy these positions of higher responsibility than their female counterparts (48 per cent compared to 43 per cent). We now turn to the average rates of pay received at the various skill levels. Pay equity ratios tend to be based on the average earnings of full-time male and female employees, hiding the growing disparity between hourly earnings of part-time and full-time employees (Smith 2003, p. 98). Table 3 shows the median hourly rates for both part-time and full-time jobs, to account for any earning disparities. Basic hourly rates are the unit of analysis so as to determine whether male and female non-managerial employees are receiving varying rates of compensation for one hour of effort at the same skill levels.1 Overall, the median hourly rate for male non-managerial employees is $2 higher than it is for their female counterparts. The disparity is particularly evident at the higher skill levels (1 to 3), but disappears at the lowest skill level. Male non-managerial employees in skill level 1 earn $4 more per hour than females. Comparing the median hourly rates of both part-time and full-time female employees makes it clear that there is little premium for full-time employment for this group. The median hourly rate of female employees at skill level 1 is $31 for those working full-time and $30 for part-time employees. This is not the case for male part-time employees. There is a significant disparity between the median hourly rates for full-time and part-time male employees within the same skill level. At skill level 1, male full-time employees earn $7 more per hour than male part-time employees. The wage disparity within skill level between male part-time and fulltime employees may be due, in part, to discrepancies in job tenure and length of experience. We know that male part-time employees tend to be younger, and therefore less experienced, and that most men with careers tend to work full-time. Although the gap at the lower skill levels is not as large, it is still evident. At skill level 5, part-time male employees\` median hourly rate is $3 less per hour than that of their full-time counterparts. Comparison of male and female full-time employees shows a disparity between median hourly earnings, which is most prominent at the highest skill level, but also apparent at skill levels 2 and 5. Among part-time employees, women have slightly higher earnings at the higher skill levels, but there is no disparity at the bottom two skill levels. Essentially, there are two factors at play in the results in Table 2. The table provides evidence of a pay premium for working full-time. This is most pronounced for men, who tend not to work part-time. But for women, who are paid at similar levels regardless of full-time or part-time work, it translates into a gap between men\`s pay among full-time employees. These data also support other research that finds the pay gender gap to be wider at the upper echelons of the labour market (EOWA 2008). It appears that men have an upward pull on wages and because they are not prominent in the part-time labour market, wages for these employees tend to suffer. It is also likely that where women dominate a particular sector they have won pay equity for part-time and full-time employees. A good example of this is the nursing sector. Further analysis of nurses in the Australia at Work survey shows that there is no significant difference in hourly rates of pay for part-time and full-time employees. Pay disparities may not only be a result of inequities that are present at the higher skill levels and between part-time and full-time work, but may also reflect the different ways men and women are compensated for the hours they work. Men are predominately found in blue collar occupations, where hourly wage rates are widespread along with penalty payments for working extra hours. Although hourly pay and penalty payments are common in lower-skilled service jobs, many of the compensatory measures have been whittled away through enterprise and individual agreements (see for example, Evesson et al. 2007). Women, too, are commonly found in white collar salaried positions, where the rising incidence of unpaid hours has been documented (Campbell 2002). Male employees are more likely to work extra hours or overtime - 80 per cent compared to 71 per cent of female employees. This difference is a result of more men saying that they \`always\` work extra hours, with similar proportions of men and women saying that they \`sometimes\` work extra hours. Table 4 shows the types of compensation men and women usually receive for any extra hours they may work. Overall, women are more likely to be compensated for extra hours by taking time off in lieu. This is often an informal arrangement, and therefore, unreliable. Men are more likely to say that they are paid for their extra hours either through direct payments or through their salary packages. The differences in overtime compensation are more pronounced among full-time employees. Two-fifths of full-time male employees, compared to only one quarter of female full-time employees, are directly paid for the extra hours; while nearly one-third of females are given time off in lieu (compared to only 18 per cent of males). These findings contradict a suggestion that women should work longer in order to reduce the pay gap (Dunkerley 2008). This section has showed that the types and forms of work in which women and men are engaged diverge. Undoubtedly, a major cause of the difference is women\`s primary carriage of caring responsibilities in the household, and consequently, participation in part-time work. There is obvious segmentation between fulltime and part-time employment. These outcomes are due, in part, to employer and employee negotiation about pay and working conditions. The next section discusses women\`s role in workplace bargaining. Women in Bargaining At the heart of the Rudd Government\`s Fair Work Act 2009 is collective bargaining at the enterprise level, both with and without union involvement. This approach assumes that every workplace is interested in and equipped to bargain collectively. We know, however, that some employees and employers have relied on the award system to establish equitable working conditions specific to their industries or occupations. Moreover, some workplaces and employees have not had the resources or inclination to bargain collectively at the local level; in particular, lowskilled and low-paid workers with minimal bargaining power and employees in small workplaces. In recognition of this, the Fair Work Act now includes provisions for a low-paid bargaining stream in certain sectors, which will be facilitated by Fair Work Australia. Also, assistance will be given to employer associations to educate their members about enterprise bargaining. This section provides evidence on men and women\`s level of bargaining power and involvement in workplace negotiation. To begin, the size of the workplace undoubtedly has an impact on the type of negotiation that takes place. One example is that unions are less likely to be present in small workplaces because of the diseconomies of scale involved in organising smaller workplaces. Female employees are a little more likely to be employed in workplaces with 100 or fewer employees (71 per cent compared to 65 per cent of male employees). As mentioned previously, grouping employees into the top three and bottom two skill levels provides a good proxy for bargaining power. Comparing the two skill groups we find that women in the less qualified group are more likely than their male counterparts to be employed in workplaces with fewer than 20 employees (42 per cent compared to 34 per cent). Australia at Work respondents were asked whether a union was present in their workplace. This could involve but was not limited to having union delegates. Although both men and women were just as likely to say that a union was present at their workplaces (41 per cent and 43 per cent, respectively), this differed noticeably across the high and low skill groups. Unions were more likely to be present in high-skilled women\`s workplaces (49 per cent compared to 42 per cent of men) and low skilled men\`s workplaces (39 per cent compare to 35 per cent of women). In particular, women in low qualified jobs tended to be unsure about union representation (18 per cent). Overall, for every two respondents who reported union presence in their workplaces, only one reported being a member of a union. Table 5 displays union membership among private and public sector employees. For non-members, a distinction has been made between those who want to be members (unrepresented workers) and those who do not (satisfied non-members). Among private sector employees, men have higher union membership levels than women, 18 per cent compared to 12 per cent. Union membership is similar among male and female public sector employees. Of those employed in high-qualified positions, union density is comparable for men and women, across both the public and private sectors. Women working in low qualified jobs are less likely to be members of unions compared to their male counterparts. In the private sector, union membership among men is almost double that for women (21 per cent compared to 12 per cent, respectively). The relatively low union membership among women working in low-skilled and low-paid jobs will impact on their capacity to bargain with their employers. It is particularly women employed in small workplaces and low qualified jobs who require the protection of industry-wide labour standards, as union-protected bargaining at the workplace level is unlikely to occur. Because these workers are the least likely to have a union voice in negotiation, they depend most on the protections of industry wide labour standards traditionally established by awards. The main purpose of Work Choices was to encourage individual negotiation between the employer and employee. To measure the impact of Work Choices on the type of negotiation that was taking place, respondents were asked whether they felt they had the opportunity to negotiate pay directly with their employer. It is expected that skill level plays an important part in whether real negotiation takes place. Higher-skilled employees are presumed to have more bargaining power and thus the capacity to negotiate individually. Indeed, Australia at Work: The Benchmark Report documents that high skilled employees obtain the best earnings outcomes through individual contracts based on the common law, while employees at lower skill levels obtain the best earnings outcomes through collective workplace agreements (van Wanrooy et al. 2007). Therefore, it is not unreasonable to expect that skill level would have a clear relationship with employees\` feelings about the opportunity to negotiate directly with their employer. For male employees, this is clearly the case. Three-fifths (61 per cent) of male employees at the top skill level say they have the opportunity to negotiate their pay directly with their employers. For the middle three skill levels, the proportions of male employees reporting this are fairly similar, ranging from 50 to 55 per cent. Male employees at the bottom skill level are the least likely to say they have the opportunity to negotiate pay (just 44 per cent). The relationship is not so clear for female employees. Women employed at the middle skill level are more likely to report opportunities to individually negotiate pay with their employers (61 per cent). The types of occupations found among this group are personal assistants and secretaries. It is disconcerting that female employees at the top skill level are the least likely to say they have the opportunity to negotiate pay with their employers, along with those employed at the bottom skill level (39 and 38 per cent, respectively). What is most alarming is the chasm in individual negotiation opportunities between men and women at the top skill level (61 per cent compared to 39 per cent, respectively). The majority of women employed at the highest skill level who say that they cannot negotiate pay directly with their employer are employed at the professional level (64 per cent). The types of occupations are teachers (29 per cent) and registered nurses (19 per cent). The opportunity to negotiate is likely to reflect the type of bargaining that is occurring in these occupations. This is explored in Figure 1, which shows the proportion of male and female employees who say that they have the opportunity to negotiate pay with their employers, by the type of pay setting that occurs in their workplaces. Men and women who are employed at the highest skill level and have their pay set individually are just as likely to say that they have the opportunity to negotiate pay (80 per cent and 78 per cent respectively). In fact, this is the case across most skill levels and pay setting arrangements. Two exceptions occur among employees who have their pay set collectively: women at the highest skill level and men at the middle skill level are less likely to say that they can negotiate pay compared with their counterparts at the same skill levels. This is likely to reflect the way collective bargaining takes place among these groups. More important is the other exception that occurs among women in the bottom two skill levels who have their pay set individually - they are less likely than men to say that they can negotiate their pay directly with their employers. Thus the evidence suggests that women in lower skilled positions are more likely than men to feel that their opportunities to bargain individually and their power to do so are weaker. After exploring respondent reports of the opportunities which they have to negotiate, we now look in Table 6 at the formal instrument which they believe they have in place. Australia at Work respondents were asked what type of agreement sets out their pay and conditions. This type of information was usually gathered from employers as employees were less likely to know about the industrial arrangements in place. Respondents were asked a series of questions about how their pay and conditions were determined. While employee reports may not be entirely accurate, they do indicate how employees perceive their conditions and pay to be set, and the perceptions are likely to impact on their experiences at the workplace. 2 Nearly half of female employees say that they rely on the award for their pay and conditions; this is a substantially higher proportion than men (47 per cent compared to 36 per cent, respectively). In particular, women are more likely to report basic award conditions rather over-award rates (Table 6). Men are more likely to say they that have unregistered individual contracts in place (22 per cent compared to 15 per cent of females). Similar proportions of men and women report having a collective workplace agreements: 24 per cent and 20 per cent respectively. It is often assumed that awards are primarily there to provide a minimum safety net for low-paid and low-skilled workers. But the extent to which women in higher-qualified positions rely on awards is noteworthy. Again, nearly half (46 per cent) of women, compared to only 35 per cent of men, employed in high skilled occupations rely on award arrangements. One-third of men in high-skilled positions have their pay and conditions determined on an individual basis, either by AWAs or by common law contracts, compared to only one-fifth (22 per cent) of women in high-skilled jobs. Low-qualified employees\` reports of agreements are similar to the picture overall, except that there are more who do not know their agreement types and fewer who report individual arrangements (see Table 6). The low level of knowledge of industrial arrangements among this group is not surprising when we have regard to the age profile of these workers. One notable difference is the proportion of low-qualified women who report union collective agreements - at 15 per cent it is lower than all the other groups, and provides some correlation with the union membership rates among these workers. Conclusion In developing a new industrial relations system for Australia it is essential that policy-makers, researchers and stakeholders consider how particular groups of workers will fare under the changes. Establishing equitable outcomes for women in work is an ongoing struggle due to their primary care responsibilities and their dominance in part-time and precarious employment, as well as in certain low paid and low skilled sectors. Had Work Choices continued it is likely that the focus on individual arrangements would have been detrimental to working women. Individualised industrial arrangements have not provided women in weak bargaining positions with opportunities to negotiate with their employers. Analysis of the Australia at Work data shows that women, regardless of skill level, heavily rely on the award system for the determination of their pay and conditions. Under the Rudd Government\`s new industrial relations agenda, the award system is in the process of being \`modernised\`. This has led to the reduction of the number of awards and limited their content to ten award-specific matters. (These are in addition to the ten National Employment Standards that cover all Australian employees.) The inference is that to improve working conditions beyond the award safety net, employees should collectively bargain with their employers. Collective bargaining at the enterprise level is at the heart of the Fair Work Act 2009. The legislation does not distinguish between union and non-union collective agreements in the hope that they will become more widespread across all workplaces, not just those where there is a union presence. Enterprise agreements must be regarded with caution, however. Research has shown that non-union collective agreements made under Work Choices reverted to the statutory minima and were rarely bargained (Evesson et al. 2007). This finding is concerning for women in low-skilled and low-paid jobs who are particularly vulnerable because of their lower rates of union membership and their greater numbers in small workplaces. Ultimately, these women will be relying on the low-paid bargaining stream to improve their working conditions above the award safety net. In this process multiple employer bargaining will be approved and facilitated by Fair Work Australia. While low-paid sectors have not been defined by the Act, a Government fact sheet states that there will be strict criteria for access to such a workplace determination and suggests that this bargaining stream \`will help employees working in areas like child care, aged care, community services, security and cleaning, who are often paid the award rate\` (DEEWR 2009). Not surprisingly, many of the sectors named are female dominated. This statement also confirms the Government considers the award be a backstop and not a way to maintain conditions. For many female employees, the maintenance and improvement of their working conditions will rest on the success or failure of the low-paid bargaining stream. Women, more so than men, rely on institutional arrangements for the protection of their working conditions. Regardless of skill level, women depend on the maintenance of the award system. Industry and occupational standards are necessary in bolstering the working conditions of women. The data from Australia at Work supports previous qualitative studies that have shown \"the absurdity of individual \`negotiation\` as a basis for labour standards\" (Pocock et al. 2008, p.487). Any policies that undermine Australia\`s institutional arrangements are likely to contribute to inequitable outcomes for women. [Footnote] Endnotes 1 Managerial employees (those with a 1 -digit ANZSCO code of ? -Managers and Administrators\`) 2 This data item must be considered within the context of the complex Australian industrial relations system and recognition of the fact that employees may not have full knowledge of their industrial arrangements. The survey asked respondents about the type of agreement that sets their pay and conditions using up to 12 questions, which allowed us to crossvalidate data and build an accurate picture of the nature and coverage of labour contracts. For further discussion on this data item please refer to van Wanrooy et. al 2007. * The author would like to thank Shaun Wilson for his assistance with this article. [Reference] » View reference page with links References Boreham, P Hall, R. Harley, B. and Whitehouse, G. (1996), \`WhatDoes Enterprise Bargaining Mean for Gender Eequity?: Some Empirical Evidence\`, Labour and Industry, vol. 7, pp. 51-68. Campbell, I. (2002), \`Snatching at the Wind? Unpaid Overtime and Trade Unions in Australia\`, International journal of Employment Studies, vol. 10, pp. 109156. Chalmers, J. and Hill, T. (2007), \`Marginalising Women in the Labour Market: \`Wage Scarring\` Effects of Part-time Work\`, Australian Bulletin of Labour, vol.33, pp. 180-201. Dunkerley, S. (2008), \`Work Longer to Close Pay Gap, Women Told\", Perth Now website, http ://www.news.com.au/perthnow/story/0,2 1598,23660655-948,00. html, accessed 9 May 2008. Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) (2008), Gender Income Distribution of Top Earners in ASX200 Companies: 2006 EOWA Census of Women in Leadership, Australian Government, Sydney. Evesson, J. Buchanan, J. Bamberry, L., Frino, B. and Oliver, D. (2007), Lowering the standards: From Awards to Work Choices in Retail and Hospitality Collective Agreements: Synthesis Report, report prepared for the Queensland, New South Wales and Victorian Governments, Workplace Research Centre, Sydney. Pocock, B., Elton, J., Preston, A., Charlesworth, S., McDonald, R1 Baird, M., Cooper, R. and Ellem, B. (2008), \`The Impact of \`Work Choices\` on Women in Low Paid Employment in Australia: A Qualitative Analysis,\`, Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 50, pp. 475-488. Rudd, K. and Gillard, J. (2007), Forward with Fairness: Labor\`s Plan for Fairer and More Productive Workplaces, http://www.alp.org.au/download/now/ fwf_finala.pdf. accessed 30 May 2008. Smith, M. (2003), \`Accepting Mediocrity as Progress: Gender Pay Equity and Enterprise Bargaining\`\", International Employment Relations Review, vol. 9, pp. 89-104. Van Gellecum, Y., Baxter, J. and Western, M. (2008), \`Neoliberalism, Gender Inequality and the Australian Labour Market\`, Journal of Sociology, vol. 44, pp. 45-63. Van Wanrooy, B., Oxenbridge, S., Buchanan, J. and Jakabauskas, M. (2007), Australia at Work: The Benchmark Report, Workplace Research Centre, Sydney. The Case Assignment Company ABC is a manufacturing company in the automotive industry, with a production plant of 20,000 employees, a sales department of 5,000, and an administrative work force of 1,000. The male workforce in each department is about 75%, 60%, and 40% respectively. On average, women\`s compensation is 25% lower than that of the men in all departments. YOU have been chosen to represent the women before management in the contract negotiations. After carefully reading through the articles, and the above information, please answer (in one full text page), the following questions: \"Inside information\": Management is strongly against \"across the board\" changes, but is willing to hear your differentiated proposals per department. How would you prepare (in addition to reading the above articles) for said meeting? What negotiating approach would you choose to adopt? Explain. What would be your interests and possible positions? What would be your initial proposal to mangement broken down by department? Should your initial proposal be rejected by management, what will you bring to the next round of negotiation discussions \"at the table\"? Tip - a general strike is NOT an option. Expectations Remember, the future welfare of the workers is in your hands - prepare well! Be definitive and practical! No general statements and/or grand stand statements. Make your point and then explain your reasoning for it. Assume (but point it out) what ever is missing in this setting.


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