Letter to the Editor: Productivity Commission Review

Judith Sloan draws attention to the regrettable absence from the review of workplace relations by the Productivity Commission of any “specific reference to examining individual contracting and the restrictions that arise from the present framework”.  Indeed, the terms of reference are bereft of any overall indication of what the review’s framework objective might be and imply that all that might be needed is to adjust the existing Fair Work arrangements.

The HR Nicholls Society will certainly be submitting that in a modern society there is no intrinsic imbalance in bargaining power between employers and employees and that the regulation of workplace relations should be minimal. That is in the interests of both employers and employees and would establish a competitive framework which would increase employment.

It is regrettable that the terms of reference have been constructed without consultation with a body which has extensive experience in workplace relations.

Yours faithfully

Des Moore,
Publicity Officer,
HR Nicholls Society

Australian Tour of International Labour Market Expert Prof Bernd Fitzenberger

The HR Nicholls Society would like to warmly invite you to participate in the Australian Tour of Professor Bernd Fitzenberger of Freiburg University, one of the world’s leading labour market experts, on “Labour Relations for a Resilient Economy”.

Professor Fitzenberger will be speaking in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Perth on the German model for labour relations, and its contribution to German competitiveness and employment in the last decade.

The HR Nicholls Society presents this speaking tour as a contribution to the reform of Australia’s system of labour relations.

Professor Fitzenberger is Full Professor for Statistics and Econometrics at the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg.  His areas of study include trends in wage inequality, trade unions and coverage and evaluation of labour market programs. He is co-editor of the Journal for Labour Market Research.

Professor Fitzenberger’s academic work contends that regional flexibility in labour markets was key to the German economy being able to weather the global financial crisis better than other economies in the European Union.

The society believes Professor Fitzenberger’s addresses will attract interest from government, industry and industrial relations practitioners. The society’s object is to bring new and practical perspectives to debate about Australia’s labour relations.

Professor Fitzenberger will be speaking as follows – and numbers are strictly limited, so please book now to secure your spot: Read more

Sacked for being drunk at work? Win $300,000 in damages!

Via Workplace express (paywall protected):

A state manager sacked for being drunk at a staff training conference the morning after a work-related function has won $296,650 in damages, after a court took into account his company’s approach to drinking in finding his behaviour did not amount to gross misconduct.

NSW District Court Judge Philip Taylor accepted the Willis Australia Group Services Pty Ltd manager was “at least to some extent” drunk when he arrived at the conference — his “workplace at the time” — at 9am after drinking into the early hours and sleeping on a bench near his hotel door because he couldn’t find his key.

The judge also accepted he smelt of alcohol, spoke loudly, “lacked seriousness”, threw a lolly and made “animal noises”, though as a “means of conveying information about a recent safari”.

But the judge said while the insurance company had proved the manager’s misconduct, it had not proved gross misconduct.

“A proper reading of the contract of employment, including the Willis policies, read in the context of Willis practices in relation to alcohol, indicates that intoxication at work, of itself, is not sufficient to warrant summary dismissal for a gross misconduct,” the judge said.

MEDIA RELEASE: Unemployment Up – But Employment Increases

The unemployment rate of 6.3% (s adj) has reached a 12-year high, increasing slightly from the previous month.

However, data reveals a modest improvement in the labour market as employment rose by 42,700 (0.4%) in November 2014. Despite this, the growth of 1.5% in demand for labour over the past 12 months is still failing to keep pace with the growth in the working age population of 1.8%.

Youth unemployment has also continued to increase significantly. In November 2013 the unemployment rate for persons aged 15 to 19 years was 16.5%. The latest figures show the rate to have risen considerably to 20.1%. February 1997 was the last time that youth unemployment was greater than what it is today. Such a record high level indicates poor employment prospects for first-time job seekers.

Additionally, the Australian labour market is also faced with the issue of growing underemployment. The labour force underutilisation rate for November 2014 is 15.0%, the highest rate since November 1997. This increase is largely due to the growth in part-time employment in comparison to full-time employment. The latest figures show that while part time employment increased by 40,900 in November whereas full time employment increased by 1,800.

These developments in the labour market emphasise the need for deregulation of workplace relations and the establishment of a much more flexible market.

Publicity Officer: Des Moore (9867 1235)


AGM Adjourned Until December 11

The 2014 HR Nicholls Society Annual General Meeting has been adjourned until:

TIME: 5:30pm
DATE: Thursday 11 December
ADDRESS: Level 10, 607 Bourke St Melbourne (SW corner with King St)

Please click HERE  to download the agenda, and we hope all members will be able to join

HR Nicholls Annual Dinner Report

The HR Nicholls Society successfully held its Annual Dinner on the 24th of November, with keynote speaker Stephen Sasse.

Workplace Express provided the following coverage of the event($):

Adopt Victorian code nationally, says IR consultant

A lack of managerial capacity is to blame for the huge cost blowouts on major publicly-funded infrastructure projects such as the Wonthaggi desalination plant and Melbourne’s Spencer St Station upgrade, and could have been prevented if the current Victorian construction code was in place, according to IR consultant Stephen Sasse.


Sasse told the HR Nicholls Society’s annual dinner in Melbourne last night that the Victorian code, which established a new benchmark that should be adopted by all state and federal governments, “is designed solely to modify contractors’ behaviours”.


“It exists to protect the short and long term interests of taxpayers by forcing contractors to take some responsibility for the effective management of labour productivity and labour costs” and ensure value for money.

He said the Victorian code is “designed to counteract the moral hazard that contractors may have a vested interest in de facto collusion on labour costs and productivity” while ensuring “that unacceptable industrial behaviour meets with appropriate consequences”. Read more

AGM Notice

Thursday 4 December 2014

level 2, CQ, 113-123 Queen Street Melbourne (NW corner with Little Collins St).

5 30 pm:                  


  1. Welcome to members
  2. Apologies
  3. Reports to the board
  4. President’s report
  5. Treasurer’s report
  6. Election of office bearers
  7. General business


Members wishing to stand for election to the board should seek a nomination form from Michael Moore, at mjcmoore@ozemail.com.au.

Please call Michael Moore – 0403 345 546 – or Adam Bisits -0438405527 – if you wish to discuss.

Royal Commission Submission

The HR Nicholls Society Submission to the Royal Commission into Union Corruption is now availiable for download, together with a cover letter by Publicity Officer Des Moore HERE:The Effect of Regulation on Union Governance and Corruption (covering letter by Des Moore) and you may click here for the media release.

Des Moore wishes to note that:

Firstly, the HR Nicholls submission is to an extent limited by the terms of reference which do not refer specifically to the economic effects of existing arrangements. As the Abbott government has indicated that the Productivity Commission will at some stage be asked to undertake a comprehensive economic review, our submission does not attempt to cover all the adverse economic effects of the regulations, such as the minimum wage. That will be for another day. But there are both legal and economic implications in the Commission’s identification of “criminal conduct which includes widespread instances of physical and verbal violence, cartel conduct, secondary boycotts, contempt of court and other institutional orders, and the encouragement of others to commit these contempts”.


Second, my covering letter argues that the absence of any specific mention of economic implications in the terms of reference should not stop the Commission referring to them in its report(s). There is in a sense an interconnection between the legal and economic effects. The importance of having regulatory arrangements which stop or markedly reduce secondary boycotts is but one example.


Accordingly, it is suggested that the Commission should in fact give more attention than appears so far to be the case to the adverse economic implications of the existing regulatory arrangements. The provision in the terms of reference to “the adequacy and effectiveness of existing systems of regulation” seems relevant and the identification of restrictive practices in the labour market indicates that adverse economic effects occur. Hence it is recommended that the Royal Commission draw attention to the likelihood of such effects in its report.