Labor Inequalities in Australia’s Market


Inequalities in the labor market across the world have for long been seen to intersect with gender, race, and class where financial processes represent a powerful force in terms of social and monetary disparities. It should be noted that inequality is the process whereby; there is a lack of equal sharing of economic and social labor in the market. According to the claims of many economists, human resources and the forces of supply and demand clarifies the disparities in workplace payments across groups of people and nations. On this basis, sufficient data shows that employment prospects are also based on the power of the principal gender, race, and class. In this relation, groups of multiracial feminist sociologists ascertain that; gender, social class, and race matter a lot in the generation of inequality. According to them; gender, race, and social class interconnect to create exceptional groups of disadvantaged and privileged in a society (Ackers & Wilkinson, 2003).

Main body

It should be noted that increased labor market inequality has been an essential development in the global labor market; which has brought about flexible levels of earnings. In this case, advancement in technology has led to the breakdown of occupational barriers creating demands for combined experiences; hence resulting in inequality in patterns of wage. This study clearly looks at the labor market inequality in Australia through the eye of gender, social class, and race (Alexander et al, 2008).

It has been revealed that, over the last decades, industrialized countries inclusive of Australia have witnessed many social, physical, and economic changes especially in terms of labor. In this relation, Australia has experienced an increasing disparity of earnings and the expansion in the alternative forms of employment. On the other hand, there have been disparities in terms of the labor market as a result of skills and experiences; where the least experienced personnel face competition from the skilled personnel. This has resulted in low earnings for least skilled personnel and high earnings for skilled personnel. It should be noted that advancement in technology has caused employment shortages as most of the work in industries and companies is undertaken with the use of machines (Arup et al, 2006).

In Australia, pay inequality is prevalent where those people working as casual laborers are paid less even though they are the ones who do much and demanding duties. In most companies in Australia, women are neglected and their work is considered of low quality which results in their low pay. Evidence shows that, earning disparity continued to rise in employment for men and women between the years 1989-1995 and 1997-2002 despite the disparity measures employed (Arup et al, 2006).

Additionally, men were found to have overtime work more than women and hence were paid higher than women in long run. A critical analysis of these statements has shown that gender equity in the labor market has prevailed in Australia and currently; women like men are competing in the labor market because of the decentralization of wage settings. Even though women have been facing disparities in terms of the labor market, industrial relations policy has changed and they too have equal rights with men to earn and hold any job in Australia (Argy, 2003).

It should be noted that women have been facing pay and labor market inequality because of their domestic work. In Australia, women are considered to work in domestic chores which are non-economic; while men are supposed to work in economic chores outsider domestic work. On the other hand, maternity leave has also been a subject of matter where women are supposed to take responsibility for nurturing and caring for a baby rather than work in professional fields. A critical look at this point has been that women in Australia have, like men been educated and hence lobby for equality claiming that even men should be going for maternity leave (Alexander et al, 2008).

More so, women have considered men as responsible for child nurturing and rearing, and hence that should not be a hindrance towards their labor market equality. Additionally, the Sex Discrimination Act of 1984 has been improving women’s position in the labor market even though they have been facing challenges. Importantly, the traditional norms on the division of labor have made Australian women face stiff competition from men in the labor market. In this case, these divisions of labor have resulted in failure of women in excelling in career paths, and as a result; they face pay and labor inequalities (Callus & Lansbury, 2002)

Another form of labor market inequality is the social class where those people from well-up families usually undertake employment opportunities in white-collar jobs; unlike those from low social classes, who work in low-paying jobs. A point worth noting is that, as societies have changed; there is a need to recombine all the thoughts of social class, gender, and race and implant them in one body. Evidence shows that Australia social statuses have led to labor market disparities in that; the people working as casual laborers are usually lowly paid as compared to those in managerial positions. Contrary to this, casual laborers work harder than their seniors and hence deserve to be paid highly. On the other hand, inexperienced personnel who do manual jobs are lowly paid than experienced workers who work with machines (Bray et al, 2005).

It is of importance to note that, social statuses in Australia have resulted to work and pay inequalities where; those people of high class usually get employed in senior positions leaving out the qualified low-class personnel. Additionally, women have been the victims of pay inequalities as they rarely get overtime work. In this relation, women are believed to undertake domestic work of rearing and caring for the children and hence do not get enough time to work overtime. On the other hand, it can be argued that women in Australia are currently educated and hence are professionally qualified the same way as men, hence should undertake equal job opportunities. In this case, women have come together and started lobbying for their rights in workplaces which include equality in payments and other benefits given to men (Bray et al, 2009).

Further, pay and labor inequality in Australia has been brought about by disparities in the time allocation in the household and the labor market. In this case, women are given less time in the labor market as compared to men which result in their low payments. On the other hand, labor market inequality in Australia can be explained in terms of education and experience which has been brought about by advancing technology (Balnave et al, 2007).

A point worth noting is that introduction and passing of work choices legislation in Australia was done in the year 2005. In this case, this was done under the modification of the constitution under the “workplace Relations Amendments” Act 2005. On this basis, this process has boarded this country on the most inclusive shake-up of business associations since federation. As a result of the introduction and passage of these choices, industrial and employment conditions have changed in Australia (Callus & Lansbury, 2002).

Among the changes which have occurred include; prominence being laid on the country’s financial system away from wages, the number of awards has reduced from four thousand to twelve, the Australian fair wage commission was established which determines minimum wages and conditions for employment. Additionally, there has been a reduction of the powers of the “Australian industrial relations commission”. It should be noted that these legislations of work choices have individualized the employment relationships in that; the state industrial relations were rendered redundant and as a result, any company could recruit its own employees. Further, the decrease in the powers and authority of the Australian industrial relation commission has enabled companies and private sectors to conduct their recruitment and employment individually (Arup et al, 2006).

It is of importance to note that, the creation of a unitary system of industrial associations which replaced the federal system; has helped in carrying out recruitment and employment processes among companies and private firms. It can be argued that work choices legislation in Australia was seen as an approach to the creation of a balance in the workplaces, all aspects of employments workers and employers rights. Importantly, work choices have increased bargaining between employers and employees as well as recruits. This is as a result of the weakening of trade unions whose function was to represent members during contract cooperation periods. Further, collective bargaining resulting from the involvements of trade unions was reduced and promotion of individual agreements concerning one-on-one negotiations and agreements was enhanced. In this case, employers and employees could now come together and negotiate on payments based on qualification and professionalism (Argy, 2003).

As a result of these choices, a substantive change in the nature of bargaining within the country was observed where the employees felt free in bargaining for their pay and pay increase. In this relation, bargaining would be based cooperatively at the endeavor level in contrast to the importance shown on the individual agreements. Additionally, individual bargaining in industries and companies allowed low-paid workers to lobby for their pay increase in good faith (Callus & Lansbury, 2002).

On the other hand, the award system in industrial relations was removed and replaced by enterprise and individual bargaining. It should be noted that the low bargaining system in Australia created a globally unique system that allowed multi-employer bargaining among award dependant employees. On the other hand, equality in bargaining was introduced where each and every employer or employee has a right to bargain for payments. In this relation, women were advantaged in terms of bargaining for their pay equalities and increase as well as bargaining for overtime work. As a result of these work choices, there was a decrease in strikes among workers as a result of poor payments, inequality in payments, and poor working conditions. Further, labor legislation strengthened anti-strike conditions and banned all industrial activities which included; partial stoppages, work bans, and overtime bans (Alexander et al, 2008).

Legislation of work choices in Australia individualized the employment relationships by giving both employers and employees good relationships in terms of payments and overtime which would result to pay equalities. In this case, these qualities would be brought about by the fact that both men and women have equal bargaining power in lobbying for their wages. On the other hand, this would reduce inequalities of the labor market through the class as each and every employee and recruit is positioned in such a way that he/she can lobby for employment (Alexander et al, 2008).

It should be noted that, under the legislation of work choices in Australia; employers have been given greater suppleness in terms and situations under which they can recruit employees. In this case, employees are employed with workplace agreements strengthened chiefly by constitutional minimum conditions rather than awards. Additionally, the role that was formerly played by the “Australian Industrial Relations Commission” in the determination of employment conditions and resolution of industrial disagreements; was reduced. Moreover, trade unions were rendered not significant in organizing industrial actions and entering at work places. As a matter of fact, these choices reduced the disclosure of employers to unjust firing claims (Ackers & Wilkinson, 2003).


As it has been revealed, labor market inequalities in Australia are prevalent phenomena that should be done away with. In this case, this situation has been brought about by gender, class, and professionalism. It is of importance to note that, the advancement of technology in Australia has led to many people being rendered jobless and others paid lowly because of their lack of expertise in the present technological world. On the other hand, the legislation of work choices in Australia has given employers and employees autonomy in carrying out their employment activities. In this case, employment in Australia is no longer under the authority of trade unions.

Reference list

Ackers, P. & Wilkinson, A., Understanding work and employment: Industrial relations in transition, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003.

Alexander, R., et al, Understanding Australian industrial relations, 7th edition, Thomson Publishers, Melbourne, 2008.

Argy, F., Where to from here? Australian egalitarianism under threat, Allen and Unwin Publishers, Sydney, 2003.

Arup, C., et al, Labor law and labor market regulation, Federation Press, Sydney, 2006.

Balnave, N., et al, Employment relations in Australia, Wiley Publisher, Brisbane, 2007.

Bray, M., et al, Employment Relations: Theory and Practice, McGraw Hill, Sydney, 2009.

Bray, M., et al, Industrial relations: A contemporary approach, 3rd edition, McGraw Hill, Sydney, 2005.

Callus, R. & Lansbury, R., Working futures: The changing nature of work and employment relations in Australia, Federation Press, Sydney, 2002.

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