Proceeding on this basis, and giving the ACTU the benefit of the doubt, there were 546 000 protesters yesterday. And, I'll even be more generous and assume that these protesters had a similar average productivity to the general Australian population (although the dominance of public servants among their ranks makes this highly unlikely). The average Australian produced $50 per hour last quarter and an 8 hour day means that across all the 546 000 demonstrators they gave up around $220 million in lost wages.
I have assumed that all protesters worked, which is probably a fair assumption since the beneficiaries of the IR laws will be the unemployed. For example, in the more liberal IR environments of the US, UK and NZ there has been an average unemployment rate of 5.9 per cent over the last ten years (compared to an average rate of 7.3 per cent in Australia). If our average over the next ten years lowers to 6 per cent, as a result of reform, then an extra 135 000 people will have jobs. Even if these new entrants just earn the minimum wage then they will earn an extra $13 500 over and above the dole. The average age of the unemployed is around 50 so, assuming on average of another 15 years in the labour force for the new employed, the net present value of these jobs is around $19 billion.
The upshot is that to offset these IR gains there would have to be the equivalent of another 80 days of action on the same scale as yesterday. In the face of these ratios, I don't think I will breaking my duck and joining a union march anytime soon.