Anachronistic and out dated workplace laws are slowly but surely dragging Australia to a point where people can’t get work and those with the capacity to employ will do so sparingly, reticently and with misgivings.

The hoary old chestnut, which is maintaining current penalty rates, can only end in one way; increased unemployment and less investment in people as producers.

As I work around the country, commentary by those employed and representing those employed continue to beat up the need for ongoing high levels of penalty rates because if they are fiddled with they feel that this will be a significant pay cut to those who are employed. What they don’t seem to realise, nor care about, is that there is nobody sticking up for the unemployed, the people who want to work at any time and those who have no choice but to work at times others consider unsociable but in fact suit them down to the ground.

This is the reality of our diverse, increasingly technology driven community and for those even in the workforce its effects are gathering pace.
Producers of goods and providers of services are constantly looking to increase margin and decrease loss because without looking at these issues, they won’t have a business.

Just look at our grocery and banking ‘service’ offerings. When I need to go to purchase groceries from the duopoly in Tasmania I make sure that I take the time to stand in the queue and have a person process my purchases. When I bank, wherever possible, I will take advantage of a teller. However in both cases we are constantly being moved to increased technology, less face to face interaction and far less need for their HR departments to worry about the excess sick leave and paying for people who earn more whilst they are on holidays than when they are at work.

Why is it that those who would support the employed fail to recognise that employers are fed up with looking over their shoulder for the person with the industrial gun to their head, why do they think that employers are spending more on technology every year to automate as many services as they can? Why don’t the same people acknowledge that in many sectors of our economy ordinary hours have changed and so too should the system which rewards people for effort?

That said, small business people are firm believers of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. They enjoy the people they work with and need quality employees to complete the tasks required because they don’t have the budget to invest as heavily in technology as the big four banks or the big two grocers.

Small businesses are currently the big employer but continued to suffer from the pincher movement of increase wages and conditions, decrease working hour and increase training costs. The inevitable result of this will be only the most flexible, the most personable, the most productive and the most reliable employees will be employed. As for the others, they will just have to hope that company tax doesn’t go down so that the groaning welfare system will continue to support them.

But then we could all change our mindsets. We could deregulate the labour market; employees could compete fairly in the open market for a job for the best price. Employees could work cooperatively with employers to increase outputs, increase quality and share in the successes instead of taking the benefits upfront. These arrangements can still be overseen by an agreed safety net providing guidance for both parties.

Businesses across all three sectors, large, medium and small are recognising that they are operating in a global marketplace where labour, material costs and customer bases are all negotiable. For the Australian workforce to hang on to practices which make them more valuable on holiday than at work and demand premium rates when others are happy just to have a job at the universally agreed ordinary rate, this may well consign the entire Australian economy to become the world’s biggest loser.