Employee representation on Australian company boards is a vital national reform required to make Australia’s workplace culture and corporate governance settings fit for purpose in the twenty-first century, argues Dr Nick Dyrenfurth.
In 2017, the Australian way of life is fraying. Globalisation, technological disruption, declining manufacturing, and the collapse of mass unionism paired with decentralised wage determination have combined to challenge its core ethos. Full-time jobs are declining in favour of part-time, casual and fixed-term, precarious work. Company profits remains healthy yet annual wages growth is at record low rates. Union coverage has collapsed, contributing to levels of inequality not seen since the1940s. There is abundant evidence that the fruits of 26 years of continuous, record national economic growth have not been shared equally. The erosion of the Australian way is not just bad for working people but bad for the national economy and bad for our democracy.
To address the big challenges facing our country we need to fashion a new policy settlement as bold as that of the early 1900s, the 1940s post-war reconstruction
work of John Curtin and Ben Chifley, and Bob Hawke and Paul Keating’s modernisation agenda of the 1980s and 90s. Drawing on the experience of Germany’s successful social market economy, Dr Dyrenfurth outlines how employee representation on company boards can help rebuild a pro-worker, pro-business
economy: fostering workplace cooperation, boosting long-term growth and productivity, whilst tackling rising inequality, insecure work and stagnating real wages.