Saturday, 2 June 2007

Australian workers yearn for "good old days" of 1850

According to an article in todays Sydney Morning Herald, more than 2.5 million Australian workers long for the "good old days" of the 1850s, when the 8-hour day was first won.

According to research paper by
Dr Brigid van Wanrooy, a post-doctoral fellow at the Workplace Relations Centre at the University of Sydney, entitled "A Desire for 9 to 5: Australians' Preference for a Standard Working Week", men work an average of 45 hours a week, and women an average of 40. Rather surprisingly, only 37% claimed they wanted to work shorter hours.

However, reading between the lines of this set of figures from the ABS on working hours in Queensland, which claims that Qld workers are "happy" with their hours, you find that amongst the sectors who actually want more hours of work are those generally most vulnerable to shift cancellation, casual hours, firing, and lack of job security - Accomodation and Food Services workers. So it's hard to take the story from the figures alone.

Perhaps more worrying is this quote:
This week the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed almost a third of Australians work unsocial hours and 37 per cent do extra hours, about half of them for no extra pay.
While, again not too surprising, it all points towards the gradual slide in wages and conditions, a slide that began well before Howard and WorkChoices, but which can only get worse without a significant change in orientation and values.

This should be particularly clear after seeing this graph and Ross Gittin's article in today's paper. All the more reason to sign the Right to Strike Petition and to join the fight for workers' rights.

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