What Is The “Future Of Work”? – Senate Inquiry Submission

By Tim Hollo February 14, 2018

The Australian Senate has established a Select Committee to inquire into the enormous topic of “The Future of Work and Workers”. Doubtless they will receive an extraordinary array of widely differing views about both what is happening and what to do about it.

The Green Institute was pleased to be invited to make a submission, which you can read in full here:

This is a fascinating and critically important area of discussion. As we wrote in our submission, the nature of work is changing. For many people, work is becoming more exploitative and precarious. For many others it is becoming more all-consuming. Across the board it is less fairly distributed, dividing us between overworked and underemployed.

Vitally important for the Senate Inquiry to grapple with, these changes are the outcome of deliberate choices by corporations and governments, and they do not have to be the case.

Paid work as we understand it is a recent invention, and can be reinvented. We humans are more than we sell our labour for. We contribute to and participate in society in many different ways, and people around the world are chafing at the bounds, seeking new ways of being. Thanks to technological developments, it is now possible to imagine a future where work no longer dominates our lives, where we work less, support each other more, and live better.

The Green Institute argues that current industrial policies and social welfare policies are not simply out of date but are actively holding back change – an approach doomed to fail, and damage people as it fails. Instead, we should be facilitating change and supporting people and communities through it.

Our submission recommends shifting both industrial and social policy dramatically, in order to deliver the benefits of changing technology and socio-economic culture broadly across society and build a better way of being for all of us. This should involve:

i.         Supporting jobs in new and growth industries, such as renewable energy, environmental remediation, technology and caring;

ii.         Investing in thorough, consultation-based Just Transitions strategies out of the old, sunset industries;

iii.         Supporting the development of more democratic and participatory modes of employment, such as worker-owned cooperatives, platform cooperatives and social enterprises, through the streamlining of regulation and compliance;

iv.         Legislating proper protections, from leave entitlements to collective bargaining rights and beyond, for all workers, including in the “gig economy”;

v.         Returning education to education, increasing investment and removing the skills training focus;

vi.         Shortening the official working week;

vii.         Actively supporting volunteerism through making financial support accessible; and

viii.         Beginning the development of a Universal Basic Income through progressively making payments more widely available and removing conditionality.

For more about this, read our submission to the Inquiry into the Future of Work and Workers

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