International competition to be felt by low earners

brown1The collapse of trade unionism and historical systems of collective bargaining pose a threat to labour market standards both internationally and in Australia, according to eminent UK expert in industrial relations Professor William Brown, who will present a seminar at Flinders University Victoria Square on April 5.

Professor of Industrial Relations at Cambridge University, Professor Brown (pictured) is also an inaugural member of the UK Low Pay Commission.

He will present the seminar “How shall we protect the wages of the weak?”, which will be followed by a commentary from Dr Josh Healy of the National Institute of Labour Studies (NILS) at Flinders. Dr Healy is co-author of a NILS monograph for Fair Work Australia that examines the impact of minimum wages.

Dr Healy said that Australia arguably has ‘more to lose’ from the technological forces that are unifying the global labour market and driving competition between countries.

“The threat to low-wage workers posed by declining trade union membership and mobile global capital is intensified by two features of the Australian regulatory system,” Dr Healy said.

“First, minimum wages are set at a higher level, relative to average earnings, than in most other developed economies, increasing the pressure on employers of low-paid workers either to reduce employment or find productivity-raising offsets for the higher minimum wages.

“Second, a much larger proportion of the Australian workforce is reliant on minimum wages, and this is especially true of workers in industries with low trade union membership.”

Professor Sue Richardson of NILS, who is also a member of the Minimum Wage Panel of Fair Work Australia, will chair the session.

A second international visitor to Flinders this week is Dadimos Haile, Head of the International Justice Program at Avocats Sans Frontieres (Lawyers Without Borders) who spoke on the International Criminal Court and global social control to students of the International Criminal Justice topic in the Flinders Law School.

A former Federal High Court Judge in Ethiopia, Dr Haile has conducted extensive research in the fields of international human rights law, transitional justice and criminal law. He will also give a seminar for staff of the Law School.

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