The implications of de-collectivist industrial relations laws and associated developments for worker health and safety in Australia, 1996-2007
The institutional and regulatory inter-linkages between industrial relations and occupational health and safety are seldom explored in the industrial relations literature. This paper begins to address this gap by examining regulatory initiatives in Australia during a period of neo-liberal government. It examines the laws enacted by the federal government during this period and events and cases arising from these laws that go some way to illustrating their effects. Evidence is also drawn from detailed research on a number of state OHS inspectorates between 2004 and 2006. It is argued that de-collectivist changes to industrial relations laws exacerbated problems posed by the growth of flexible work arrangements and a drop in union density, weakening participatory provisions in OHS laws and promoting work arrangements that undermined OHS standards. The study provides evidence of the implications of a divergence in the trajectory of industrial relations and OHS laws and the importance of better integrating worker protection laws.
Industrial Relations Journal