The Accord, the labour market and the economy

Keith Hancock

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    1 Citation (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This article discusses the economic circumstances and effects of the Accord, noting always the difficulty of reaching firm conclusions because of counterfactual uncertainties. The article traces the interaction between the Accord and economic conditions, especially in the years 1983-1991. After the inflation of the early 1980s had abated somewhat, other economic changes, especially the devaluation of the Australian dollar, complicated the task of economic management. Stagnation of real wages made the task of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) in holding unions to the Accord more difficult. There was an inherent tension in the Accord during the years 1983-1991 in that it required the federal arbitration tribunal to 'sign on' to wage policies negotiated between the ACTU and the government. For several years the tribunal delivered outcomes that were sufficiently acceptable to the Accord partners; but by the late 1980s the tension increased and in 1991 the centralised wage-fixing system collapsed. The article discusses the forces on the union and the employer side which led to this result. The article tentatively concludes that the Accord did assist macro-economic management in the 1980s, first by helping to bring price and wage inflation under a measure of control and second by averting wage pressures which might otherwise have developed in the later years of the decade. It finds no evidence to support claims that the productivity effects of the Accord were beneficial.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)273-287
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
    Volume56
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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