26/07/2005 - 22:00

Buy-out plan leaves most workers cold

26/07/2005 - 22:00


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A couple of weeks ago I discussed my belief in the importance of holidays and, while open to the need for choice, my concerns about the practice of cashing in leave.

A couple of weeks ago I discussed my belief in the importance of holidays and, while open to the need for choice, my concerns about the practice of cashing in leave.

At the time it was a subject of debate in the industrial relations reform argument. While that issue has died down – perhaps due to reduced union advertising – I thought it was worth revisiting on the basis of some recently released research.

National research firm Ipsos Mackay Public Affairs asked 1,000 Australians if they would cash in a portion of their leave entitlement if they were given the option.

It seems, nationally, we were quite unequivocal about this – a majority, 57 per cent, said they were not likely to take this option.

While the Western Australian part of the sample is too small to provide much clarity, 69 per cent of people from this state surveyed by Ipsos said they would not cash in their holidays. That was the strongest opposition for any state and was only beaten by residents from the ACT.

It seems that we may be more reluctant than most, despite the fact that people in WA may have more exposure to this concept given that is a legal option here.

For what it’s worth, those who favoured the cash-in option tended to be younger (34 per cent of 18-24 year olds), Coalition voters (31 per cent) and middle income earners (29 per cent of those with an income between $35,000-$49,000).

Of course, the survey didn’t ask them if they appreciated the choice, just how they would be likely to react if they were given a choice.

One group could answer that of course. About 2 per cent of the employed people surveyed actually already cash in some holidays for extra pay.

No let-up on     skills shortage

THE skills shortage is something that we have committed a significant number of words to in the past 18 months and we do so again this week, with our spread on a luncheon debate we held on the matter plus news stories on page 3 and 6.

This matter got a lot of traction at both the federal and state elections during the past year, yet remains a massive problem for industry.

As the graph on page 3 shows, WA is hugely disadvantaged by this.

Fortunately, in some respects, the resource industry is badly hit, which means the Federal Government might take the issue more seriously than it may normally concern itself with problems west of the Nullarbor.

Canberra’s coffers rely far too heavily on the North West.

That is critical when it comes to solutions such as immigration, which are basically a federal issue.

Migration is increasingly being viewed as an answer for relieving what is becoming a more urgent problem by the day.

And our discussion revealed that, despite the lip service of government, there were still hurdles being placed in the way of allowing foreigners here to fill skills vacancies.

Getting a visa remains too difficult, with experts suggesting that simple tweaks could markedly change the number of people eligible to work here.

That would be a simple sign-off by the federal minister responsible, Amanda Vanstone.

In addition, the acceptance of foreign qualifications by government and industry requires little effort – mainly it is just ending the inertia embedded in the status quo.

Yes, there will be those who scream blue murder over this. But right now we need the workers.

From what I understand, this can be achieved by simply altering a few policy settings that guide various government departments – it doesn’t need wholesale change in immigration.

Pressure from   public sector

THERE have been some interesting reports on the growing wages pressure from public servants across Australia and the impact that could have on our economy.

The point being made is that wages growth in the private sector has been limited to some degree to certain industries, and a massive breakout has been avoided in favour of a far more preferable increase in employment.

However, several states face the prospect of renewing collective agreements across a wide range of sectors, which have huge employment numbers and little in the way of productivity improvements that can really be shown.

This scenario, some pundits warn, is exacerbated by the role of Labor state governments, which are mainly sympathetic to the voices asking for increases. Their weakness threatens the controlled growth in costs that has accompanies the economic prosperity we have all been enjoying.

Having said that, those doomsayers need to be tempered by the experience here in the West, where pay demands of nurses and teachers were opposed by the State Government, which rightly sees WA’s economic prosperity as something to be shared by all and managed very carefully.

Whether or not this pragmatic approach extends across Australia has yet to be seen.

While the WA Government did succumb to some pay rises, the public service wage growth has eased lately, which gives the government more flexibility in meeting its own skills shortage issues.


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