WorkChoices will demoralise employees: economist

sept 07 ABC

A leading American economist says Australia's WorkChoices laws have tipped the balance too far in favour of employers.

Professor Richard Freeman, from Harvard University's Centre for Economic Performance, has told a Brisbane industrial relations conference that WorkChoices discourages efficient bargaining between employers and workers.

Professor Freeman says the laws will further widen the gap between the haves and have nots.

"A lot of people will feel that all these words about simpler, fairer and choices, when they find the choice is that either you sign this agreement with the employer or you don't have a job, and when the agreement gives you much less than than previously you would have had, that's just going to demoralise people and lead to more problems," he said ...

Professor Freeman says the laws are a retrograde step that will do more long-term harm than good.

"Some people, if we allow the market forces to rule without any effort to help them, will indeed fall further and further behind," he said.

"Do we want to have a society where there's a bunch of economic grandees at the top and a bunch of poor struggling people at the bottom, or do we want a society where everybody has a decent standard of living?"