University of South Australia Professor in Human Resource Management, Jimmy Donaghey says while the national $130bn JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme, marks a phenomenal shift from a Liberal Government in support for workers, the lowest paid and most insecure workers may still miss out.
“Credit where it is due, this really is a significant shift by a Liberal government in protecting workers and work at a vulnerable time,” Prof Donaghey says.
“Not going down the path of a cash hand-out to individuals is a sensible policy because it seeks to maintain connections between workers and their employers so that when we come out of this pandemic, we can to be back in business as soon as possible.
“The link between employers and employees is especially important for older workers who, if they lose their jobs now, are less likely to re-enter the workforce when the haze of this recession lifts.
“Because it underpins connection, it also reduces the likelihood of opportunistic employers shifting to even more casualisation of the workforce when things get back to normal.”
Prof Donaghey says the problems with a casualised workforce have come into stark relief as the
COVID-19 health and economic crisis has unfolded.
“Many Casual staff are not covered by this package and that has consequences both immediately and down the track.
“For many years, the success of the Australian economy took attention away from the two-track employment system which has developed in Australia. The current crisis exposes this duality.”
Prof Donaghey says while there may be some stirrings from the union movement about the amount being paid to workers, the JobKeeper package reflects strong, practical negotiations between Government, employers and the unions.
“Amounts included in packages can be changed later on, but the very principle behind the deal is a victory for pragmatic action to retain jobs, over ideological opposition to intervening in the market,” he says.
“The refocus by the Morrison Government on workers, is a huge shift and one that will make a significant positive intervention in the labour market at a critical time.”
Finally, in terms of paying for the package, Professor Donaghey says that Australians need not worry about government debt.
“Compared to nearly every other advanced economy, Australia has a tiny level of public debt. Borrowing in the short term to enable a quick recovery, is again a sensible and pragmatic approach to take.”