• Publication Date: July 13, 2016
  • EAN: 9781760020699
  • 240 pages; 6" x 8⅝"
Filed Under: Labour

Industrial Relations Reform: Looking to the Future

Essays in honour of Joe Isaac AO


Product Description

Industrial relations is critically important for economic performance as well as the social cohesion of a nation. In Australia, industrial relations has been subject to numerous reforms by both Labor and Liberal-National Party Coalition governments during recent decades.

This book critically analyses recent changes in work and employment relations and their policy implications for Australia. Scholarly essays by prominent experts in the field examine the lessons that can be learned from previous attempts to reform industrial relations by governments with different political agendas and challenges which may lie ahead.

Some of the key questions addressed in this book include:

What can be learned from past attempts to reform the industrial relations system?

What have been the impacts of recent legislative reforms from the Howard government’s ‘WorkChoices’ to the Rudd/Gillard government’s ‘Fair Work Australia’ and the recent Abbott/Turnbull government’s policies on industrial relations?

How does politics influence proposals for industrial relations reform?

What reforms are required in relation to women, work and family issues?

How should collective bargaining and dispute settlement systems be reformed?

How have wages and productivity been affected by reforms of the industrial relations system?

What are the key issues facing Australia in relation to immigration and workforce skills?

The book is based on a symposium which celebrated the outstanding contributions of Professor Joe Isaac to scholarship and the practice of industrial relations in Australia and at the international level for more than seven decades.

In the media…

What has happened to collective bargaining since the end of WorkChoices?, The Conversation, 2 May 2016 Read article…

Table of Statutes

Tribute to Joe Isaac AO
Keith Hancock, Russell D Lansbury and Chris F Wright

1. Introduction to Industrial Relations Reform: Looking to the Future
Keith Hancock and Russell D Lansbury

2. Reforming Industrial Relations: Revisiting the 1980s and 1990s
Keith Hancock

3. Continuity and Change in Australian Labour Regulation: WorkChoices, Fair Work and the Role of the ‘Independent Umpire’
Andrew Stewart

4. ‘Dead, Buried, Cremated’ and Exhumed? Consensus in Industrial Relations Policy and Politics in Australia 2007-2015
Rae Cooper

5. Policy Tensions: Women, Work and Paid Parental Leave
Marian Baird

6. Reforming Collective Bargaining
Mark Bray and Johanna Macneil

7. Productivity, Wages and True Measures of Economic Gain
Sue Richardson

8. Australia’s Shifting Skills Ecosystem: Contemporary Challenges in Education, Training and Immigration
Damian Oliver and Chris F Wright

9. Towards a New Workplace Relations Framework? A View from the Productivity Commission
Peter Harris


The aspirations of Industrial Relations Reform: Looking to the Future are considerable, aiming for an impact on the future theory and practice of industrial relations in Australia. To telegraph the conclusion of this review essay, the book indeed lives up to this aspiration. This relatively slender volume offers rich historical data, useful theory frameworks, and thoughtful attention to substantive policy challenges. Over the decades, Australia has been a model for the world, illustrating industry-level accords, a national system of interest arbitration, and, more recently, an overarching commitment to fairness. At the same time, the partisan twists and turns in labour and employment policy over recent decades have also been a model of what not to do. … Given the increasing interest in new approaches, an appropriate legacy for this volume would be for Australia to be a beacon again in the future. Read full review… – Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld, Journal of Industrial Relations, February 2017

From the outset of the work, the editors make clear that the objective of the publication of the essays is to present ideas which have an impact on future theory and practice of industrial relations in Australia. The underpinning for that pursuit is a belief that advancements in systems of industrial relations have the potential to improve economic performance and social cohesion in Australia. … Overall, the book contributes to scholarship in the field of industrial relations and provides some ideas for policy development and reform in the increasingly complex world of work. Read full review… – Michael J Walton, Australian Law Journal, 2017, 91

Insightful. I was privileged to review Industrial Relations Reform: Looking to the Future. This textbook was designed as a compilation of essays in honour of Joe Isaac AO. Overall, I found this book to be a very comprehensive traverse into the area of industrial relations in Australia. The book is divided into nine sections covering major reforms in Australian industrial relations by understanding the 1980s and 1990s trends and the politics and policies from 2007 to 2015. The textbook provides its readers with an historical context of industrial relations in Australia with an acknowledgement of the international influences that defined and shaped the current laws and policies. The chapters are authored by eleven distinguished leaders in the field of industrial relations. The central theme is the evolution of industrial relations by focusing on multiple factors such as history, politics and policies, national and international practices, gender impacts, collective bargaining, education and training, immigration, economic impact and impact of international trade. The charts and graphs provide for easy comprehension of trends and the research methodology is thorough. In short, I would recommend Industrial Relations Reform: Looking to the Future as a recommended textbook for university business, law, and sociology classes. – Alexis N Gage, Hearsay, November, 77

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