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Stutchbury, of course, ignores the inconvenient truth that productivity peaked in the 1990s, when the Keating-era industrial relations system was dominated by collective bargaining at the enterprise level underpinned by strong awards. The rate of productivity growth has been declining ever since: declining through the era of rottweilers on the wharves, declining through the era of near-compulsory AWAs in higher education, the public service, and Government-funded construction projects; declining through the era of a building tribunal with coercive powers; declining through the era of AWAs that could undermine award conditions; declining through an era in which minimum wage setting was given to a new body entirely unsympathetic to the idea of minimum wages’ very existence.


It's a unionist's viewpoint, but still a very neat pricking of the Australian's bubble of discontent with the Fair Work Act, and a hint that maybe happy workers might lead to productivity growth …