Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Modern Wage Theory

Cup Day, 5 November 2002

I was struck today by the contrast evident between reports that the BHP-Billiton AGM has adopted a new Group Incentive Scheme, with the usual bonuses and share options for high-performing senior executives and this ABC report on BHP's intention to introduce drug-testing of its workers in the Illawarra region.

It's an interesting demonstration of the dominant theory of contemporary Australian labour economics, which divides the workforce into 3 groups:

Go-getting high achieving professionals and executives who will repay improved remuneration with increased shareholder value;

Overpaid union-protected slack-arses who can't achieve productivity without rigorous workplace discipline and the spur of possible poverty;

Useless drones and dilettantes who sponge of the taxpayer and spend most of everyone else's working day trying to wangle their way onto a pension.

Looking back on my working life to date, I can trace a progression through all three groups: from idle dole-bludging university graduate to union cosseted and featherbedded career public servant to highly paid programming guru and finally back to the dole, this time as a declassé hobby-satirist. I believe that my wide personal experience of all three sectors of the modern Australian workplace puts me in a position to offer a uniquely personal but nonetheless insightful, in-depth analysis of this theory.

It's crap.

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