Australian trade unions and international labour movements

Jerrard, Marjorie, and Le Queux, Stéphane (2013) Australian trade unions and international labour movements. In: Teicher, Julian, Holland, Peter, and Gough, Richard, (eds.) Australian Workplace Relations. Cambridge University Press, Port Melbourne, VIC, Australia, pp. 46-62.

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Abstract

This chapter draws upon these differences within the Australian trade union movement to explore the challenges facing unions today and possible solutions to these challenges. These challenges arise from the shift in the economy from the traditional industrial base of unions to the relatively poorly organised private services sector; the development by employers of human resource strategies engaging with employees as individuals rather than members of collective organisations extending beyond the workplace; the impact of the pressures of globalisation on workplace competitiveness and workplace relations with unions; the shift of the legislative framework of bargaining from the national and industry levels to the workplace; and the constraints placed on union operations by the state. The resulting decline in union membership – particularly in the private sector - has led unions to try a range of strategies to grow membership again. These include organising strategies based in workplace-level delegate activism and also reaching out to community groups to invoke their support to protect jobs and working conditions. Examples will be given of specific campaigns of the Australian trade union movement that illustrate different strategies adopted by unions. In response to globalisation of business, trade unions have developed international confederations and industry groups since the 1940s. Since the late 1980s, these bodies have developed strategies to deal with multinational employers, and recently the need to embed unions internationally in social movements and calling for decent jobs for employees worldwide. This chapter concludes with an overview of these international developments and their potential to renew unionism.

Item ID: 27117
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-1-107-66485-2
Keywords: Australian trade unions; international labour movement
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2013 06:01
FoR Codes: 15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1503 Business and Management > 150306 Industrial Relations @ 100%
SEO Codes: 91 ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK > 9104 Management and Productivity > 910401 Industrial Relations @ 100%
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