Unions in Australia Trade Unions Essay

Total Length: 2006 words ( 7 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 10

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The Queensland Council of Unions has organized small-scale protest rallies to pressure the government into halting the sale. 4,000 people marched through Brisbane, as smaller actions in regional centers, such as Townsville, Mackay, Rockhamption, Cairns and Gladstone took place. Union officials of Brisbane had a petition signed by 14,000 people calling for Bligh to nix the plan. Her government, however, has no intention of stopping the sale. Unions have worked to suppress industrial action. The disconnect between union and worker interests has probably been steepened by the lack of participation in the unions by workers. As union density declined, unions have been forced to cut back on their staff and resources, causing a more centralized mode of governance within the institutions. (Cook)

The de-unionization of Australia has significantly altered the nation's superstructure. From wage differentials to worker consciousness, Australia has moved, in this sense, away from the liberal democracies of Europe. Wage differentials between non-union and union workers have decreased as union density falls. This differs from the experience of the United States, where declining union density did not see a great change in wage differentials amongst union and non-unionized members.

The future of worker's movements in Australia is likely to parallel those of the United States, where random and isolated outbursts of passion give form to worker's movements. Oftentimes, labor unions function as an intermediary between government, big business and workers, historically compromising in ways beneficial to government and big business, as opposed to the workers. This trend has helped to undermine the significance of trade unions in the western world, a trajectory playing out in Australia, and highlighted by the fate of public industries in Queensland.
If the financial crisis continues, governments can expect to see more discontent among workers, as they are forced to sell of public services to private interests as a means of lessening the burden of sovereign debt. These austerity programs have already caused ferment in countries such as Greece and Iceland. (Cook)

4. Cook, Terry. Australia: Unions try to head off public anger over Queensland privatisation plan. World Socialist Website, 30 March 2010


3. Peetz, David. (1998) Unions in a Contrary World: The Future of the Australian Trade Union Movement. Australia: Brown Prior Anderson and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. PRINT.

1. Waddoups, Jeffrey C. Trade Union Decline and Union Wage Effects in Australia.

2. Peetz, David. Sympathy for the Devil? Australian Unionism and Public Opinion. Australian Journal of Political Science, Vol. 37, No.1 pp. 57-80.

5. George, Jennie. Reconciliation in the Community-How do we make it a Reality?

Accessed at: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/IndigLRes/car/1997/3/speeches/seminar1/george.htm

6. Thousands Protest against IR Laws. ABC News Online, 15 November, 2005

Accessed at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200511/s1506727.htm

7. Evans, MDR. Public opinion on trade unions in Australia: continuity and change. Worldwide Attitude, Vol. 3, No. 26, 1996, ibid.

8. Kirk, Alexandra. Hockey Cries Foul Over ACTU Strategy. ABC, 13 June 2007.

Accessed at: http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2007/s1949620.htm

9. Barnes, Renee. Protestors Engulf Melbourne CBD. The Age, 15 November 2005.….....

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