Source: The Australian, Tuesday March 7, 1995, p.1
By social affairs correspondent TOM DUSEVIC AUSTRALIA is becoming a nation of workaholics, with a record one in five people now working 49 hours or more each week. In defiance of the move to a shorter working week in industrial awards and the false promise of greater leisure time, the current generation is working harder than ever before. The labour market dynamic of the 1990s is producing two distinct classes: the work rich and the work poor. Academic research suggests the economy is generating more demanding professional and managerial jobs, employers have the upper hand in enterprise bargaining and, worried about job security, workers (particularly men) may be trying to impress their bosses by working longer hours. Anecdotally it seems that for many, a 10-hour day, unpaid overtime, taking work home, and going to the office at the weekend is increasingly becoming a fact of life. While 20 per cent of workers are working very long hours, just as many, if not more, are under- utilised - the 800,000 unemployed, 560,000 part- timers who want to work more hours and perhaps 150,000 hidden jobless who have prematurely retired or given up the job hunt. Figures obtained by The Australian from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that by the end of 1994, 1.67 million people or-20.4 per cent of those with jobs-were working 49 hours or more each week. Split by sex, 29 per cent of working males and 9 per cent of working females spent 49 or more hours on the job in December, reflecting the dominance of men in high- paying jobs and the high proportion 'of women in part- time work Four out of five people working these long hours are men. Smoothing out seasonal variations, monthly average figures for 1994 show that 26.5 per cent of working men and 8.1 per cent of working women were working long hours. Since the late 1970s the number of men working 49 hours or more a week has almost doubled, while (from a lower base) the number of women in this category has tripled. During the past 15 years, hours stipulated in awards have come down, but paid overtime hours per employee have remained relatively stable at 1.2 hours. People are working longer hours and not being paid for overtime. Continued-Page 2
From Page 1 The deputy director of the National Institute of Labour Studies, Associate Professor Mark Wooden, attributes the growth in the number of people working long hours to three things. He says structural change is facilitating fob growth in occupations where long hours are the norm. The past decade has seen a big rise in managerial and professional employment, where 50, 60, even 70- hour weeks are not uncommon. Professor Wooden says enterprise bargaining has seen a swing in bargaining power to employers, with companies working their employees harder and smarter to be more competitive as they emerged from the recession. Finally, given that management has gained the upper hand, he says workers might be more insecure about their jobs and are working unpaid overtime.
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