Dancing Alone: The Australian Union Movement Over Three Decades
We investigate the challenges faced by the Australian union movement over the two decades since the early 1990s, the renewal strategies it employed and their success or otherwise. We locate the Australian union movement historically, outline core internal and external challenges faced by Australian unions, and consider their key responses. Australian unions utilized strategies focused on the external level (in the political arena, actions aimed at framing ideas and shaping values or ideologies, or at altering the embeddedness of unions within support networks) and at the internal level (actions influencing the extent to which power is held centrally or vested in membership, and whether policy is controlled, coordinated or dispersed; the mix between industry, occupational, general or enterprise-based structures; and the development and deployment of resources). We focus on the 'Your Rights at Work' campaign aimed at defeating the 'WorkChoices' legislation, and two other core strategies: amalgamationism and organizing. We show the relations between these strategies, each aimed at increasing the strength of unions. Achieving stronger workplace organizing on the one hand, and stronger regulation on the other, are currently the key aims of the movement.
Journal of Industrial Relations