Oddly enough, no one seems to have used this headline, but Howard’s announcement that the no-disadvantage test will be revived for workers earning less than $75 000 is a big concession, at least in symbolic terms, to the union campaign against WorkChoices.
We’ll have to wait for details to see whether the concession is as substantial as it appears. As regards the $75 000 limit, it’s fair enough to say that workers on incomes at this level are in a reasonable position to protect their own position in bargains with employers without government intervention. Administratively, though, a distinction like this sounds like it’s going to be something of a nightmare to manage.
Meanwhile, the same story indicates that the mining companies, representing one of the few sectors where both workers and employers are doing well out of the new arrangements, is prepared to negotiate a compromise with Labor. Gillard’s remarks of a day or two ago may have been politically heavy-handed but they reflected reality – it would be a foolish business that went all out in a campaign against a party that is quite likely to be in office in a few mohts. (by contrast, the unions don’t have much choice about backing Labor – the Libs hate them unconditionally).