Back To The Future: Workplace Relations and Labour Law in the 21st Century


Back To The Future: Workplace Relations and Labour Law in the 21st Century

Modern labour law is a product of the industrial revolution. As people moved off the land in the 19th century and went to work in factories, norms regarding the obligations of capital (the master or landowner) to those who performed the work collapsed. Most workers lacked bargaining power, with harsh working conditions, low pay and no job security. Subsequently, unions, collective bargaining and legislation became the vehicles for improving the lot of workers.

Labour law was developed, based on employment resting on a contractual relationship with rights and obligations, shaped by statutory regulation, including social security and safety. In the 21st century, this notion of employment that undergirds labour law has been breaking down as we move into the information age. With long-term employment with one employer disappearing, is labour law irrelevant? Do parallels with past struggles point to a path forward?

The Discussant: The Hon. Justice Iain Ross AO, President, Fair Work Commission

The Australian Consortium for Research on Employment and Work (ACREW) from the Centre for Global Business, Monash Business School, and the Melbourne Human Resource Management Unit (MHRMU) at The University of Melbourne present the Isaac Industrial Symposium 2017, in honour of Professor Emeritus Joe Isaac AO, FASSA. He is a former President of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) and of the Industrial Relations Society of Victoria. He has long been one of Australia’s most distinguished scholars and practitioners in the broad field of workplace relations.

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