Wages and Wage Determination in 1999

John Buchanan, Shannon O'keeffe, Tanya Bretherton, Betty Arsovska, Gabrielle Meagher, Kathryn Heiler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In 1999 wages in Australia continued to be set in a context ofstrong economic growth and increasing inequality. While employers at enterprise level generally held the upper hand in wage setting, employers as a group showed little interest in taking responsibility for system-wide innovation and renewal in the wages system. In the course of the year a number of challenges emerged to the upward trajectory of inequality in general and neo-liberal policies in particular. Important as these developments were, they did not seriously unsettle the ensemble of inequitable practices and policies that have underpinned economic development. These themes emerge from a consideration of the key developments in wages and wage determination in 1999. The article begins by considering the major political and economic developments of relevance to wage issues during the year. An overview is then provided of wage outcomes and key policy developments at national and state levels. This is followed by consideration of how these issues have been handled in leading industrial sectors. Particular attention is devoted to the problem of pay equity. The significance of changing workplace and labour market structures for wage determination is then considered. The paper concludes by noting the importance of understanding wages and wage determination in the context of larger circuits of consumption and investment. Without such an understanding too much policy and analytical attention is devoted to the more visible elements of the wage system and too little to the key forces shaping contemporary wage and employment structures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-145
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


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