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The Federal Government has nominated reducing unemployment and helping people balance their work and family responsibilities as policy priorities The Union Movement wants all workers to be guaranteed a living wage Why doesnt the Government kill these three birds with one stone Our unemployment problem is due to both a scarcity of jobs and a mismatch between the skills in demand and the skills on offer Improved training opportunities have been used to address the latter problem while faster growth has been the politically preferred method of creating jobs as it requires the least sacrifice from the employed majority However with a growth at all costs strategy come environmental compromises and the risk of recession if the Government tries to rush the business cycle Increased prosperity will only come through the intelligent use of our natural assets and the creation and diligent application of know-how research development investment marketing training and productivity This takes time Cuts in minimum wages coupled with government income top-ups for the low paid have been proposed as a quicker solution to unemployment Indeed the previous Government went down this path with the subsidised training wage and wage-tax tradeoffs under the Accord While this may be a way to make viable a range of service industries huge wage cuts and tax transfers would be required to increase exports of price-sensitive manufactured goods Our taxpayers would be subsidising our foreign customers as well as the workers Unemployment would be reduced but not abolished It would still leap during economic downturns when demand for labour is weak An additional strategy is needed Sharing the available work amongst more people The Right has always been wary of work-sharing proposals because of the perceived efficiency and administrative costs of more employees doing the same work The Left worries about an expansion in the ranks of the working poor Here is a work-sharing proposal that takes these concerns into account Everyone would be
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