The Choices we Make – A Sliding Doors Moment
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There are two alternative visions of the future for Australian workers. Which turns out to be true depends on the choices we make over coming years. The earlier changes and choices have been followed by many changes in the world of work: changes in employer strategies, in the types of jobs, in the nature of work, in the distribution of income and power. There are choices about the directions of economic policy that need to be made; and there are choices to be made about the rights of people at work. Organisations think of ‘organisational citizenship’ as depicting ‘good’ behaviour by employees towards the organisation – doing things not in their job description that make life easier for their fellow workers, their managers or their customers, and that in the end help boost profits. But citizens also have rights, not just responsibilities. We need to think and talk about treating people as citizens at work, people with a right to respect, job security, income security, and a voice. It means people have a right to decent work. And it can be done, if we make the right choices. It is not a question of going back to twentieth century labour law, as the problems for workers stem from wider forces that ‘also adversely affect all citizens in their non-working lives as consumers, borrowers, tenants and recipients of social goods’. The project is one of restoring the primacy of democratic values and processes over markets.
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