Unlike earlier, Australia’s Textile, Clothing and Footwear (TCF) is today undergoing transition whereby there is increasing reduction in protection levels, impacts of increasing level of global competition and adoption of new business and organizational strategies. Central to these developments is the role of human resource (labor). Labor is the transformative unit that any organization uses to realize its goals. This paper will discuss the labour market in Australian textile industry with focus on Billabong Company.
Labor market is seen to be influenced by key factors such as demographic, economic, levels of education and skill, environment, political, technological, and other social aspects (Buchanan and Callus, 1993). In analyzing supply and demand concepts concerning labor market, it is obvious that when a price is floored above the equilibrium wage, the presence of minimum wage laws results into unemployment.
Generally, Australia’s labor market in the past has been characterized by insensitive wage fixing system, restrictive nature of unions, and skewed decision of the industrial tribunals and the destructive role of industrial regulations. This is in addition to laws, which have largely limited the ability of employers to organize the means of production in the best way, and the net effect has been increase in unemployment (Buchanan and Callus, 1993). This trend has largely affected the textile industry.
Spurred by the realities of economy, the Australian labor regulation laws should be reviewed. The overall de-regulation of labor market will result in increased employer-employee bargaining power (Moore, 2008), with likelihood of accelerating employment opportunities in the sector since there will be much flexibility.
Billabong Company is presented with numerous growth opportunities both locally and internationally. For instance, the Europe market presents numerous opportunities for the company in terms of long-term strategies. At the same time, the overall global women market again presents the company with an opportunity to grow (TransWorld Business, n.d, p.1).
Evidently, the northern America and Europe are being seen as the viable markets in terms of women clothing and accessories (TransWorld Business, n.d, p.1). Further, the company’s CEO Matthew Perrin notes that the skate-apparel market is underdeveloped and therefore Billabong has another opportunity to grow in the area (TransWorld Business, n.d, p.1); indeed, key to Billabong growth is an excellent employee group.
The prospects in the economy and recent acquisition of more outlets Billabong is destined for growth, which in turn will spur the need for more staff. Currently, the company’s staff is non-unionized with only small fraction being members of Australian Textile, Clothing, and Footwear Union (Anon, n.d, p.1). At the same time, the company’s employment relations have been influenced by government especially with introduction of new employment legislations, which are largely implemented by industrial tribunals (Anon, n.d, p.1).
Moreover, the company has a workforce of about 1,800; and government laws that have influenced employment opportunities at the company include workplace relations Act 1996, Racial Discrimination Act 1975, Affirmative Action Act 1986, and the safe workplace legislations (Anon, n.d, p.1).
Although no major downsizing has affected the company, in an event there is to be downsizing, it is prudent that the law be observed where the employee should be given notice in advance (60days), notify the relevant government agencies including the employee unions (Karake-Shalhoub and Karake 1999). This will ensure that the company avoids certain legal penalties.
By 2007, Billabong’s Australia Company had 600 workers which represented an increase of about 50per cent (Russell 2007). Although the company was expanding, the company’s human resource manager Jason Smith maintained that they were dedicated to maintaining a lean team (Russell 2007). During the 2009/10 financial release, the company’s CEO, Derek O’Neill observed that American market was picking up but they had no intention of increasing (upsizing) the workforce.
This statement can be translated to mean the company was confident American market was not in excess or shortage of workforce (Anon 2009). The domestic market of Australia the CEO noted had been diluted by the Asian players and such the business was yet to pick up. The current workforce in the country was seen to be okay to the current capacity.
Organization’s prospects of growth and positive financial statements dictate the possibility of a company increasing or reducing its workforce. For now Billabong is recovering from financial downturn of the recession and its market is yet to pick up. Therefore in short-run the existing workforce may be enough for the workload of the company.
With more than 1500 employees, and being an international company, Billabong workforce transcends into third-party contractors and as a result, the company has constantly continued to review its workforce policy to comply with international standards. Further, the company has consistently continued to employ workers in accordance to the way they live a specific lifestyle in which the company wants to promote products.
Moreover, workforce capacity is the fundamental ability for an organization to ensure sufficient staffing in order to accomplish its work processes. For Billabong, the projected market growth and acquisition of new outlets spells that the company will need more workforces to accomplish its works.
Through an elaborative environmental scanning study, the company should be able to identify key areas where it can equip with new and talented workforce. Specifically in emerging markets and those regions that show great potentials, the company needs to recruit young, talented, and innovative employees who can be able to promote the company’s products to the markets.
Currently, the labor market is experiencing numerous labor force dynamics being determined by past population reproduction and migration inflows (Ivanov, 2009). Capital and technology as factors of production have the tendency to command attention when demographics of labor force are steadily and satisfactory while when the population goes down, the decline tends to shift the focus towards labor.
In addition, demographic factors that affect supply of labor include natural reproduction of labor force and migration while economic factors affecting supply of labor include age and sex groups into labor force, actual employment of labor force and extent of use of available working time (Ivanov, 2009).
National structural adjustments in the economic, political, and social of various countries in which Billabong operates will affect future human resource supply. At the same time, it necessary for key institutions to put in place programs to train and sustain the current human resource whereby they can be equipped with key skills.
Jason Smith, note that Billabong current strategic issue is to establish training and performance management frameworks that have the ability to give support to both personal and business recruitment where the emphasis is for the right mix of culture and business skills (Russell 2007). Further, in ensuring adherence to this the company constantly reviews the tax legislation changes and also implements a time and attendance systems. Billabong has internal recruitment structure which outsources most of its trainings.
The company has adopted the Social Accountability 8000, certification from the ILO with aim to ensure the rights of its diverse workforce are observed. What is necessary is for Billabong to seek services of external human resource auditors to ensure aspects of the Social Accountability 8000 are observed.
Workforce planning has become necessary assignment in most companies that have vision of growth. An effective workforce planning helps the company to accomplish its strategic objectives.
For an effective workforce planning to take place, an organization should provide answers to the following key questions: “what critical workforce characteristics the organization needs in the future accomplish its strategic intent and what is the desired distribution of these characteristics, what is the distribution in today’s workforce, and what characteristics should the future workforce possess” (Emmerichs, Marcum, Robert and National Defense Research Institute-US, 2004).
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