Workplace bargaining and the wages/working time nexus: counting the cost of decentralisation


Underhill, Elsa; Bertone, Santina; Doughney, James


The impact of deregulation on dispersion of earnings in Victoria has been acknowledged in the findings of the recent task force enquiry into Industrial Relations in Victoria. This paper argues that the link between hours worked and rates of pay has played a significant, and understated, role in the increased dispersion of earnings evident in aggregate wages data. Drawing upon detailed analysis of hours and wages evident in Victorian agreements, data is presented on declining take-home pay flowing from hours worked coupled with loss of penalty rates. This, we argue, is attributable to the lack of substantive and procedural protections available to Victorian workers under Schedule 1A of the Workplace Relations Act, and formerly under the Victorian Employee Relations Act, 1992. We contrast these findings with collective agreements trading off penalty rates certified by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, and Australian Workplace Agreements approved by the Office of the Employment Advocate and the Commission. We conclude by suggesting there is a scale of fair outcomes attached to the wages/hours trade-off, directly attributable to the various institutional mechanisms now influencing Australian wage determination.

Publication year


Publication type

Book chapter


Developments in enterprise bargaining in Australia / J. Burgess and D. Macdonald (eds.), pp. 141-157


Tertiary Press




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