The decline and fall of the tally system in the meat processing industry
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As a major export industry with a tradition of adversarial industrial relations, the meat processing industry in Australia has attracted the attention of parties interested in reforming its working practices and arrangements. First amongst these working practices and arrangements are the tally systems. These incentive-based payment schemes were identified by certain employers and public policy makers as a significant impediment to the improvement of workplace productivity within the industry. The industrial and legal struggle to remove and alter such systems has been difficult, prolonged and expensive for the parties involved, but it has been successful. This paper will provide an outline of a history of the tally systems, emphasising particularly the circumstances that precipitated its decline in significance in the 1990s. The paper will discuss the significance of such systems in the industrial relations history of the industry, particularly in the beef-exporting sector of Queensland.