Sympathy for the Devil?: Australian Unionism and Public Opinion

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Peetz, D
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2002
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Abstract

Public opinion on trade unions is influenced by a variety of factors, including direct experiences of industrial conflict, socialisation, the consonance of union behaviour with values and norms, and the general climate of debate, opinion and propaganda. Union sympathy (general support for unions): slowly declined between the 1940s and the 1960s; deteriorated sharply during the early 1970s; and recovered slowly under the Accord. The deterioration after the 1940s may be attributable to anti-communism's association with anti-unionism. The deterioration during the 1970s was associated with a significant rise in industrial conflict and the slow improvement in sympathy during the 1980s and 1990s was probably linked to the Accord-related fall in it. The decline in union density since the early 1980s cannot be directly attributed to a shift in union sympathy. Despite low levels of disputation in the late 1990s, though, union sympathy then appeared weaker than in the 1940s. Its low level in Australia, compared to other countries, may partly reflect the influence of anti-communism, but especially of arbitration, which rendered strikes illegitimate.

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Australian Journal of Political Science

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37

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1

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© 2002 Taylor & Francis. This is an electronic version of an article published in Australian Journal of Political Science, [Volume 37, Issue 1, 2002, Pages 57-80. Australian Journal of Political Science is available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com with the open URL of your article.

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Policy and administration

Political science

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