This report will evaluate how the Australian union density or membership have declined since the 1990s. This report will give data of the fall of union density taken from the published primary sources and secondary sources. It will outline the major events and factors that took place which were the reasons for the declinement of union density and union organisation in Australia. The research will tell how the union membership rate has steadily declined due to the social,political, cultural and other many factors. The report will further examine the impact of the union organisation declinement effect on the private and public sector of the Australian economy. We will be arguing how an efficient organising structure policies by Australian union was inefficient in coping up with requirements that were required by the union organisation. The report will also highlight the key downfalls of the american union density. The report will give detailed analysis of the time period in which the changes in union density were major and hampered the union density rates. The report will illustrate the organising literature of Australian union in brief. It will mark out the key points on how the Australian union could be revived through organising models. The report will take account the perspective, opinions and viewpoints of various scholars on the fall of union density in Australia. The report will further state the description of the organising model in atribation system. The report will lastly give the latest changes from the 2000 period in the union density. Trade union provide a shield and safeguards the workers or members of the union from any harm and discrimination or harrasment in the organisation. Trade unions play a significant role in a society.
The organising model commonly known as trade unions which collectively works mainly how the organisations should be recruiting,operating and advancing the interest of the members by performing various functions and many other significant things which will be further evaluated below in the report. Organising model basically consist of full- time organisers who promote and protect the interest of the union members by building strong leadership qualities among members,confidence and organising big campaigns where a large number of trade unions participates. It is linked both with social movement unionism and community unionism. Organising model was adopted in Australia in 1994.
The main and core objective of an organising model is always to give strength,power or a voice to the union members. They carry certain features such as: Enhancing and major emphasis on building personal contacts within the unions,to achieve an orient organising model and to implement it, the organizer should be willing to build personal contacts with members to redress their problems,needs and work situation by having a long hours talk with them,realization of the fact that members need to step up in the shoes of responsibilities for a strong union and to overcome union struggles,the concept of leadership should be more participating and engaging rather being a leader who is authoritative and concerned with his own self acute interest and self worth,implementation of creative techniques for performing campaigns which includes street dramas and plays and campaigning must be more related and specific about the problems and grievances rather than taking irrelevant things.There should be hierarchy within the union in such a way that it brings out the maximum effectiveness from the union member.Making of volunteer leaders who will be responsible for spreading information about the trade union and will motivate others to join and participate.Developing new strategies to bring out the maximum contribution of others and Creating new initiatives projects by providing a speedy redressal mechanism system or techniques for the union members.The union object and there time to time specific goals have to be always specific and free from biasness.
After a massive change in the industrialization and a sharp rise in the wages and the conditions which prevailed during the 1970s, the union movements became inhibited in their demands during the accord,neo corporatist period (1983-96). During this period the ALT and ACTU joined hands by implementing a formal relationship between both. These big unions and organisations basically destroyed or diminished the small unions and their loyalties. During these great and big mergers the traditional approaches and hireacheries fall downed. This poses a great threat and danger to the small unions.According to (BOB & CARTER) union was faced major tremendous danger in the accord period and there were no further drastic changes implemented except improving the conditions within the unions.The period during 1980s-1990s was recorded as tremendously bad phase for the trade unions and the decline in the union membership was worse than ever in Australia Union density and membership was seeing a sharp fall during the 1980s-1990s.
A number of reasons were responsible for the declinment of union movements in Australia which makes it a very puzzled and complex situation. The significant matters or factors that led to the decline was contingent employment,increased global competition, the drastic changes in economy, the changes taking place in industrial relations deregulations and the sharp rise in global competition.The union of Australia was mainly focused on the system which was composed of arbitration and conciliation which were mandates that led to shaping the industrial relation during the period of (1980s).Further it is argued that unions which were operating and implementing these kinds of union structures were becoming more as state wards rather than becoming independent organizations.(Farbrother 2018).The decline in strategic numbers of union goes way back when prior to 1976, statistics of membership figures were overstated in terms of numbers of individuals having union tickets, some workers had more than one job at a time. The basic reason for this overstated and overestimated figures was because the survey back then was purely provided by the unions themselves.Beginning from 1976, the surveys taken from households were used as the basis for union membership figures which sometimes understated the real membership levels. (Derry & Plowman).
The period of 1948 showed a peak in union density which was recorded at 64.9% of wages and salary who belonged to the unions.The period of the 1960s was a bad phase for unionism as jobs in the sector of mining,rural sector and the waterfront disappeared.According to the reports of (ABS 1948-75) union density faced a sharp decline from 58% to 49% during the period of 1960-1969.The loss faced by rural jobs saw a sharp fall in union density by massive 19% during the 1960s.The density saw a rise by 7 percent within the period of 1969 and 1975 due to the factor that union was gaining a massive following among the public servants and professional high level jobs.Manufacturing sector recorded only 10 percent jobs in the 1960s, while earlier it was 28 percent of the workforce .During the period of the 1980s, unions were more concerned about the income and prices accord, as both Australian Council Of Trade (ACTU) and the Labour party had signed an agreement.Unions were now more concerned about the structural changes which were going to be witnessed by the economy and already which were in place. All these changes were creating a loss of jobs.The income and prices accord was implemented with a viewpoint of overcoming the problems associated with protecting the jobs in the manufacturing field and industry.From the period of 1986, there were sudden and significant changes which were taking place in industrial relations.Linkage of wages to the increment of productivity was revealed and observed during the period of 1986.In 1991, the concept of enterprise bargaining was introduced.In 1993, non collective union agreements were implemented.Many anti union legislation were produced in 1996 at the time of election of the Howard-led coalition which provided for individual Australian Workplace Agreements(AWA).
In the Howard decade,it is found that the fall in union density till the year 1996s is very relevant and significant. In these decades the fall in the public sector was major, the union density fell from 70.6 to 55.4 percent ( by 15.2 point).Whereas the decline in private sector union density was less from 34.5 to 24 percent ( by 10.5 points ).So it is clear that Howard legislation was not the major factor influencing the union density decline.
In the year 1992, there were more unions formed and memberships in the private sector rather than public sector. The difference between both private and public is still maintained till now. Around 812,400 members were lost during the union movement between (1992 and 2007).
According to (ABS,2018) report, out of these lost members 455,500 were public sector members. So union movements have a direct and harmful impact at the public sector employment than that of the private sector sector.
By considering the data of union density fall in australia the two manifold sides were considered:
The introduction of bargaining power of enterprise was one of the reasons for the tremendous fall in industrial disputation in 1991.
While always facing criticism australian unions due to the organising models at the period of late 1990s . Union found new approaches and tremendous changes occurring in unionism itself. The australian union organisations campaign was authoritative and had a very centralized structure.
The beginning of 1999, the new organizing campaigns started to take place with new reforms and drastic changes which raised more losses.The fall in total union membership was beginning to level out. In 1999, there was an absolute sharp decrease in the union numbers. In 1992 and 2007 approximately 2812400 members lost to union movements.Around 181800 were lost afterward the period of 1999. Simultaneously the growth in labour market was also showing an improvement.(ABS 2007and 2008).Around 1.6 million or more new employment opportunities were created during the period of 1999 and 2007.The australian union density since 2000 is falling by a rate of just 0.2% from 2000-2001.(ABS CATALOGUE). The major shift of employment form public sector to private sector was the sole reason for decline of union density in 2001. Private sector union density grews 0.1% whereas on other hand the public sector union density grew 0.5%, but employment was decreased due to the shift of public to private sector.
Organising model has always been opposed and resistant within the trade union. A study conducted on white collar unions in Australia found that every further change, new strategies and implementations were opposed in each step. (Survey of Australian council trade union) conducted in 1995 to 1997, revealed the facts that only a percentage of 43.7% of the members were in favour of the organising model and believed it to be a successful implementation.
Along with opposition faced by the union, it has been always a subject of critical academic reviews. It has revealed that the unions were more concerned about the implementation of reforms rather than identifying the underlying merits. Bartan (2016) observed that unions were more ignorant of the impracticability or the structure. Also there was no linkage between various unions policies,theories and strategies with that of membership, growth and retention rate in a union.It was believed that the organising model implementation will be helpful to overcome the arbitration and conciliation policy.
It was quite evident that the changes in the industrial world, the patterns of bargaining implemented and representation by union,during the early 1990s were the main reasons for the declinement of union density. Unions struggled to create a system for the industry in general in a large platform as individual firms were more into competing in their individual capacities to compete more effectively.Broad strategies which took place when the emergence was at the peak take consideration of factors such as the first emphasis was given to the need for better relationships between the unions and enterprises at a sustainable level so as to increase the efficiency,effectiveness and productivity and skills.( Kaltz And Sabel 1999)However this partnership approach led to deregulation of industrial and economic relations.New organising models that begin to be introduced were not simply the victim of drastic changes in the anti-union legislation or unions but were now responsible for their own decline.
As (Bronferbrenner) observed “ Unions were now more responsible for their own decline,rather than playing the victim card”.
Although it is always being said that organising model framework can improve the legacy of union organisations, it sometimes gives flawed, ambiguous, and not accurate top notch results.
But to further clarify an organising model can be proved to give best results if it depict certain features mainly consisting of - Replacing the hierarchy in the union which restricts or alienates the union members to fully enjoy their democratic freedoms; doing so will give the workers more say in the bargaining places and workplaces,a major emphasis should be given to recruiting new members time to time from external organisations rather than sticking to the existing employees,facilitating free flow communication so the workers are enabled to take responsibilities at their own and come up with new and innovative ideas to highlight their contribution and responsibilities in the union organisation and ensuring the skills and talent possessed by the workers are sufficient to manage their own as well union responsibilities. Providing a chain of networks that will link up the hassle free linkage of different activities across the union organisation.Developing initiatives programmes for workers.Ensuring the hierarchy levels remained at ease.
Although these factors are just a synopsis, there are many wider factors which are responsible for the successful implementation of the organising model, it is argued by many scholars such as (Danford 2003) the success will only be achieved if the model extends its objective and takes into account social unionism. Social unionism it's a great and significant factor as it concerns society in general. The organising structure should be formed within the frameworks of society value and ethics.It was established in 1994 by Australian unions for the purpose of recruitment of organizers from organizing works programs. It was established after the visit as a representative from Australian union to the U.S. It was there where they learned and observed about the organising model. Organising work is different in Australia than other countries. It combines the apprentice system, training in unionism with the union. The organizing model implemented by the Australian union system was much different and was not seen to be added or adopted by any other union.
Critics have criticized and argued that the organising model cannot be proved to be effective in the modern and dynamic economy. The linkage of industrial reforms with the national economy too get hampered because of the disputes that arise in union organisations. So there will be short run achievement while long term suffering, number of jobs will be few and opportunities will decline.
After observing many facts,data and historical data from various reliable sources, it can be concluded that the organising model implemented by Australian unions were capable of explaining the reason of downfall of density rate. It can be concluded that the dependency of australian unions over the arbitration system led to their inability to work properly and effectively. Union revival has been always dependent on how successful the organising model adapted by the union is. In the case of Australia, the organising model has given sustainable results but in the short term while in the long term it lacks effectiveness. Young ones were more restrained and less concerned about unions terms while old were mainly affected by the union reforms. The tendency of deploying contractual and part time workers rather than full time employment is seeing a sharp rise since the 1990s. The union organising at the time of late 1990’s didn’t catch the attention of union organisation as workers were more concerned of their survival rather tha unions. The union membership numbers as recorded in has declined about (2.5 million to 1.5 million) since the late 1990’s to 2006.
There should be a parity between the model implemented by the trade unions in the organisation so that there will be a orient relationship, harmony and balance between the workers of the trade union and their interest. Encouragement of each individual to the fullest and compelling him to contribute to the union responsibilities should be must. The retention rate of the worker is directly linked with the environment of his organisation.
In a nutshell, where there were cons of the organising model there were also pros of the organising model adapted by the Australian unions. Still the major emphasis is given to the negative aspect as the downfall continued to remain the same since the 1990’s. The ineffectiveness of the organising model impacted the Australian trade union heavily. The shift of the public sector to the private sector was one of the side effects of the organising model. Therefore in the long run the organising model gave not as effective benefits while in short run it was effective. The ineffectiveness of the organizing model adopted in 1994 hampers the union rate till this era.To conclude ,union decline in Australia has been coming from a major historical process. This decline has shaped and added value to the organising structure.
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