Publication Date

December 2005

Publication Details

Hodgkinson, A and Markey, R, Assessing the Impact of the Workplace Relations Act From 1996 to 2004: Increasing Flexibility or Decreasing Collectivism?, Working Paper 05-30, Department of Economics, University of Wollongong, 2005.


This paper tests the impact of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (WRA) by looking at changes in the behaviour of a panel of workplaces in the Illawarra Region of NSW between 1996 and 2004. The results support the proposition that the major impact has been on the level of unionisation and union density in these workplaces. There was virtually no expansion in the use of enterprise bargaining or AWAs, although there was a small but significant increase in non-union agreement making. Rather than encourage the use of single jurisdictions to register awards and collective agreements, in the Illawarra at least, there was a strong trend to dual State and Federal jurisdictions. Thus the WRA has been relatively ineffective in achieving flexibility and decentralised employee relations goals but has resulted in a high level of decollectivisation.