Academic journal article The Economic and Labour Relations Review : ELRR

Mordy Bromberg and Mark Irving (Eds), Australian Charter of Employment Rights

Academic journal article The Economic and Labour Relations Review : ELRR

Mordy Bromberg and Mark Irving (Eds), Australian Charter of Employment Rights

Article excerpt

Mordy Bromberg and Mark Irving (eds), Australian Charter of Employment Rights, Hardie Grant Books, Melbourne, 2007, pp. xiv + 158, $29.95 (paper).

A. B. Fields and W D. Narr, in 'Human rights as a holistic concept' (1992: 6), view 'the world as a field of struggle over rights without any guarantee of success' The price of human rights, like freedom, is eternal vigilance. Rights have to be fought for and defended, over and over again. There is no guarantee that even when a nation has ratified various human rights instruments developed by the international community, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and various Conventions of the International Labour Organisation--what Binion (1995: 525) has referred to as 'beautifully crafted ... documents'--they will be observed.

Since the mid 1980s, there has been an assault on, and an erosion of, employment rights in Australia. Various business and employer groups, the Liberal and National Parties Coalition, at both the federal and state level, and various 'think tanks, such as the H. R. Nicholls Society, have mounted attacks on the rights and benefits of workers, trade unions and traditional regulatory instruments, such as the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. The election of the federal coalition in 1996 enabled such plans to be implemented. They occurred in two stages. The first, was the passage of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth.), and the second, the Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Act 2005 (Cth.). Commentaries on these developments are contained in the May 2006 issue of this journal.

In response to these changes, The Australian Institute of Employment Rights has developed A Charter of Employment Rights. In the Introduction, Mordy Bromberg writes that the Charter 'is a back-to-basics attempt to define the rights of workers and employers' (p. 1). It 'has been built upon the guarantee of individual fairness and reasonableness' (p. 5). Bromberg maintains that:

   A successful workplace relations system will be built on the
   premise that high productivity and high worker satisfaction are
   both enhanced by investment: workers investing in their workplace
   and employees investing in their workers. This workplace investment
   compact will be founded on an appreciation that the legitimate
   expectations of workers and those of employees are not mutually
   exclusive but are largely complementary (p. … 
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