• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Growth and Decline in Size and Density of Australian Trade Unionism.

Extracts from this document...


GROWTH AND DECLINE IN SIZE AND DENSITY OF AUSTRALIAN TRADE UNIONISM Australian trade unionism has seen a general growth in the size and density prior to the 1980s, which from that decade onwards has continually produced a negative membership growth till the present day. Australia started as a convict settlement along with free settlers owning slaves on their property, which set the trend of employment relationship between the employer and employee. The employer had complete power and advantage over the employee. To obtain equality, employees formed trade unions. Thus, up until the 1980s, Australian trade unions have been laying out the basic foundations for workplace employment. Due to recent changes in the Australian economic environment, the trade unions have failed to adjust to these changes and have suffered consequently through its decline in union membership. On 26th January 1788 Australia was officially settled. The majority of the settlers were convicts who were used as workers to develop Australia in which their struggles were a lead up to the birth of unionism in Australia. Some notable instances included were: 1791 - a convicts strike demanding daily issue of rations; 1804 - Castle Hill Rebellion where convicts protested on conditions and rations (ACTU website 387). A clear relationship developed amongst the community whereby the employer had complete authority over the employees. Not only was this seen in the convict settlement but also with free settlers making use of slaves. ...read more.


Little resistance is given by the employees during periods of economic depressions, them knowing that their employers dislike unions and conceding to all negotiations about contracts simply to maintain their jobs is the best option. With human resource management seen as a favourable formation of an organisation's structure in modern times, unions are not endorsed because of the anti-union characteristics of human resource management (Peetz, 1998, 127). This can be seen in the new era of information technology. Many information technology firms ranging from computer related products to the World Wide Web firms and the telecommunication industries all have a human resource management structure where unions representing employees working in these industries have minimal if any representation of unions. Negotiations are most likely to be settled directly between employer and employee. Problems in the workplace are unwanted while prevention is most welcomed. Employers thus cultivate and nurse their employees to maintain a healthy attitude and behaviour. Surveys show that attitude of women; some ethnic groups and white collar employees are less likely to join unions which greatly accounts for a major loss in union membership (ACTU website 158). The key reason for the anti-union attitude is that unions are not providing the goods and services or the atmosphere that employees require. Loss of faith in unions is another factor that is accounted for. However statistics are changing, and in recent times more female representation in unions and union membership has increased. ...read more.


Employees' entitlements under awards were dramatically reduced which severely halted the momentum unions were building up during the period 1983 to 1996 in union membership recruitment. Power was being restored to the employers. Individual contracts offered by an employer could in fact overrule the working conditions set out in an award or enterprise agreement. (ACTU 1999, p 19)Thus, employers could abuse this system by offering lower working conditions and rates to an employee. In 1999, a Second wave of anti-union legislation from the Howard Government. Employees were given more freedom in enterprise bargaining without the help of the Industrial Relations Commission or trade unions. Third wave campaign of anti-union legislation was passed to further stifle unions' power and influence by penalising any employee or union that takes part in industrial action(ACTU website 287). In essence, currently, there are three key issues that the Australian trade unions are devoting their resources into their recruitment drive: dominance and availability in the workplace; membership growth in new trade sectors; and a strong union voice and a clear channel of communication between all four parties: unions, employees, employers and the government (ACTU 1999, p i). Unions are a 'must have' organisation to help those employees that do not have the equal opportunities as employers to negotiate workplace conditions and contracts. But to supersede the previous statement, the changing nature of the organisational structure to a human resource management is much favoured as the relationship between the employer and employee is much closer which matters can be dealt with internally. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Trade Unions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Trade Unions essays

  1. "Big" Industries.

    Pennsylvania became an oil field. Rockefellar started his business in Cleveland, Ohio. He bought his first oil refinery in 1865. He went to a railroad company and said that he needed to transport barrels of oil, and if they did not help him with the expensive price to do so, he would go to another company to help him, and make them bankrupt.

  2. Trade Union

    pay or for working conditions), then there are a number of different methods of industrial action which the trade union can propose to its members that they use in order to achieve their demands : 1. Non co-operation. Refusing to attend meetings and use new machinery or processes.

  1. Why did the General Strike of 1926 take place?

    The miners could have accepted the conditions but they were stubborn and refused to compromise. The Samuel Report being disregarded was an essential point in the events leading to the General Strike; if it had been taken into account then both sides would have been more content and a strike would have been averted.

  2. How far was the development of trade union rights hindered by divisions within the ...

    of time before white union leadership recognised and accepted that the movement for labour rights could succeed only if labour were totally united. This would mean admitting African-Americans and others rejected ethnic minorities into the unions. This point was not entirely lost on those attempting to establish s national labour movement in the late nineteenth century.

  1. 'The First World War was important as a locomotive for domestic change' (Clive Emsley). ...

    The government was left with no choice but to comply. These 'unofficial' strikes just gave trade unionists greater confidence, as they saw how easily the government had given in. The coalition government saw the introduction of a war cabinet, which included labour MP's and trade union leaders.

  2. Explain fully and clearly the importance of negotiation within industrial relations to resolve disputes

    performance related pay. E5: Explain the outcome of the dispute C4 Interpret and explain the outcome of the negotiations Teachers in London have been disputing about the London Allowance. They have contacted the NUT and they have put their case forward to the Government demanding an increase.

  1. Employment relationship

    Thus it will have more leeway in the conduct of employment relationships, and are more likely to recognize unions and foster participation schemes. Clearly, firms that are maintaining growth and profitability in the face of intense competition in a depressed world market can only do so with full cooperation of their workforce.

  2. 'The impact of legislation introduced between 1980 and 1993 is the principal reason for ...

    Working Days Lost (000s) 1950-59 2119 663 3252 1960-69 2446 1357 3554 1970-79 2601 1615 12870 1980-89 1129 1040 7213 1990-96 307 236 370 In the 1970s there were an annual average of 1.6million workers involved in strike action, this fell to 1million in the early 1980s and by the end of that decade had declined to an astounding 0.8million.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work