The state of industrial relations

Chapter 1: Introduction

"From the very beginning of the century the employers had persistently asserted their right to make any kind of bargain with the individual workman, irrespective of its effect on the Standard of Life. They had, accordingly, adopted the principle, as against both the trade unionists and the Factory Act philanthropists, of perfect freedom of contract and complete competition between both workers and employers. In order to secure absolute freedom of competition between individuals it was necessary to penalise any attempt on the part of the workmen to regulate, by combination, the conditions of the bargain. But this involved, in reality, a departure from the principle of legal freedom of contract. One form of contract, that of collective bargaining, was, in effect, made a criminal offence, on the plea that, however beneficial it might seem to the workmen, it cut at the root of national prosperity. It will be obvious that in urging this contention the employers were taking up an inconsistent position. Their pecuniary interest in complete competition outweighed, in fact, their faith in freedom of contract."

-- Sidney & Beatrice Webb on the struggle by workers for the right to bargain collectively
in the 1860s and 1870s, The History of Trade Unionism, Longmans, 1920 edition, pp. 292-293.

The words that open this collection by Sidney and Beatrice Webb are suggestive of the context within which the work has been produced in several ways. In the first place, the Webbs remind us that the origins of the recent political struggle over the direction of the nation's industrial relations are very old. Although the debate was pursued in many terms, seen in the long view, at its heart, WorkChoices was another round in the age-old bid by employers to privilege individual over collective bargaining. What people usually mean by 'freedom of choice' in such contexts, the Webbs pointed out in 1894, 'is freedom of opportunity to use the power that they happen to possess; that is, to compel other less powerful people to accept their terms.' As they concluded, 'this sort of personal freedom in a community composed of unequal units is not distinguishable from compulsion.'1

The Webbs' words also reflect an historical difference between Australia and the United Kingdom; namely, prolonged conflict over the legitimacy of trade unionism was relatively rare in this country prior to the Howard government. In the 1860s - the period to which the Webbs refer, for example - while Britain's employers were discovering that nothing 'but absolute suppression by law appeared open to those who regarded trade combinations as a 'poisonous plant'', Robin Gollan found that the issue 'did not raise the same interest in Australia'.2 Of course, there have been some great national conflicts and numerous smaller stoushes over the right of workers to combine. The debate over individual contracts versus collective bargaining was, after all, the theme of the Great Strikes in the 1890s. Nonetheless, the most determined attempt to decollectivise the employment relationship in Australia, which climaxed with the defeat of WorkChoices in the 2007 federal election, followed 'nearly a century in which collective employment relationships were accepted, often grudgingly, as the norm'.3

How serious was the defeat dealt out to the forces that lined up against collective bargaining in the election? How is the employer setback to be explained? David Peetz has dated the movement that ultimately culminated in WorkChoices from the mid-1980s, when there was an 'institutional break' in the traditional forms of Australian industrial relations. The turning point in employer attitudes, he suggested in Unions in a Contrary World, was associated with the effects of changes in some product markets, some high profile disputes, and 'the mobilisation of 'new right' attitudes around the H. R. Nicholls Society'.4 This interpretation is not far from Paul Kelly's more well-known if also more partisan book, The End of Certainty. Kelly's central theme about 'the attempt to remake the Australian political tradition' rested on the break in the international institutions that had upheld the Keynesian-style liberalism which had set the political trend in the postwar world until the mid-1970s.5 Concurrent with the turning point in the attitude of Australia's employers, the 'neo-liberal' movement was spearheaded during the 1980s by the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States led by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

'The times will suit me' the then aspiring prime minister, John Howard, famously told Anne Summers in mid-1986.6 Did they? The 2007 election occurred two decades after Peetz's 'institutional break' and neo-liberalism's triumphant international period had been fading in fits and starts since the 1990-91 recession. It is not to diminish the leadership of the Labor Party's Kevin Rudd to observe that, after 20 to 30 years of neo-liberals bashing the public ear about 'individual choice', the greatest single force behind the defeat of the new right's most ambitious Australian project was the collective effort of the trade union movement. As it turned out, three decades of determined effort on behalf of employers to deny the liberty in collective organisation did not only fail to claim the victory that its partisans have always deemed 'irresistible' and 'inevitable'; it also ended with the first federal government to be torn down by the trade union movement since that led by Stanley Melbourne Bruce in 1929. By the time John Howard had accumulated sufficient power to go the whole neo-liberal hog with WorkChoices, the times, it seems, were so unsuited that he became the first prime minister since Bruce to be voted out of his own seat.

This, then, is a thumbnail of the general context within this publication has been produced. It is the Evatt Foundation's third contribution to the debate over the Howard government's attempts to substantially weaken, if not completely destroy, the practice of collective bargaining in Australia. The first contribution was War on the Wharves: A Cartoon History, a popular collection of 186 illustrations from the nation's major newspapers that aimed to capture the narrative of the government's unsuccessful attempt to break collective representation on the waterfront in 1998. 'The government was defeated', concluded War on the Wharves, 'so severely and publicly, attempted retribution is certain should the coalition be re-elected'.7 As it came to pass, it was not until 2005 that the government came back, after the Liberal-National coalition secured majorities in both houses of parliament at the federal election of October 2004. The government's policy was outlined on 26 May 2005 and WorkChoices was enacted on 7 December. On the day that the legislation passed through the Senate, the Evatt Foundation published its second contribution to the debate, a special issue of The State of the States dedicated to 'The State of Industrial Relations' that featured five invited essays from specialists analysing the implications of the government's direction.8

This further publication aims to complete the analysis. In view of the early stage in the WorkChoices debate at which the 2005 publication appeared, this collection originated last year in an invitation to the contributors to the earlier volume to revisit their analysis in light of subsequent research and developments. Where the original contributors were not available, alternates were invited to review their chapters. The range of topics was also expanded to include a critique of the amendments to WorkChoices that were announced on 4 May 2007, which featured the introduction of a 'fairness' test. As it happened, the publishing schedule was interrupted by the onset of the 2007 election campaign, holding over the six original pieces of analysis to be published here as Chapters 2-7. They comprise the weight in this collection and are presented with only minimal revision in light of the election result. Together with the 2005 volume, these chapters constitute the Foundation's critical analysis of the main contours of the ill-fated WorkChoices.

In completing the critique, the aim is not only to assist students of Australia's recent past and those who are following the transition from the Howard era, but also scholars, activists, workers and citizens generally with an interest in the future of the country's industrial relations. The new Liberal-National opposition led by Brendan Nelson has nominally rejected WorkChoices in the wake of the 2007 election.9 Yet, as the Webbs remind us, the periodically intense reactions by employers to trade unionism and the coeval practice of collective bargaining date from at least the beginning of the 19th century. Placed against the record, few things can be more genuinely certain in politics than the knowledge that there will be more reactionary bids to privilege employers through individual bargaining, at the expense of the freedom of workers to enjoy collective representation. Whether this will occur as soon as the opposition manages to win another federal election, or whether this most venerable of conservative tropes has been seen off for another generation, is impossible to know. WorkChoices, it will be recalled, was not foreshadowed before the 2004 election, suggesting that little comfort can be taken from the opposition's disavowal. Whenever the next bid occurs, as it will, this volume and its two predecessors are likely to prove useful resources. Finally, in acknowledgement of the 2007 election, the six original essays have been supplemented with three papers that aim to bridge the analysis of WorkChoices and the new directions that have accompanied the Rudd Labor government, published here as Chapters 8-10. In sum, the next six chapters complete the Evatt Foundation's analysis of WorkChoices; the final three supply a prelude to the new story of Australia's industrial relations.


In the first of the critiques of WorkChoices, Tessa Meyrick revisits the associated constitutional question, which was the principal unresolved issue at the time of the Evatt Foundation's 2005 analysis. WorkChoices was the subject of a High Court challenge by the states and unions that occupied 39 barristers over six days in May 2006. As Jeff Shaw and Monica Ciolek anticipated in 2005, Meyrick confirms that the decision did not introduce the single national industrial relations system that the Howard government touted, for a significant minority of workers remains within state jurisdictions. Ironically, in some ways, WorkChoices deepened the jurisdictional divisions, for the hostility of the states to the federal power grab led them to flex their residual constitutional muscles. Nor has the High Court resolved all uncertainty, for there remain avenues for litigation, most obviously over what constitutes a 'constitutional corporation'.

That said, by a 5-2 majority decision, the High Court upheld WorkChoices on the basis of the Commonwealth's corporations power, which has resulted in a significant increase in the number of workers subject to the Commonwealth jurisdiction. Arguably, the more enduring consequences from the decision will be felt in the operation of Australian federalism at large rather than in the field of industrial relations. As pointed out in the 2005 collection, there is little reason to object to a unitary system of labour law in principle, not least because the jurisdictions have long operated in a nationally integrated way in most respects. Whether the law is unified within the Commonwealth jurisdiction or integrated through federal co-operation appears of marginal significance compared to the substance, particularly given the current consensus on the decentralisation of workplace regulation. On the other hand, as Meyrick makes clear, the implications for many of the other areas over which the states have traditionally carried responsibility are major. In an illuminating reprise of the arguments in the High Court, to avoid striking down WorkChoices, the majority rejected the federation as an empty concept. It is one thing to reject 'originalist' reasoning in favour of a 'living, adaptable' constitution; but another altogether to regard the concept of federalism that underpins the whole constitution as beside the point. The stunning upshot is that, thanks to a WorkChoices sideshow, the Howard government has bequeathed the Rudd government the widest field across which the Commonwealth of Australia has ever been allowed to roam. This major change to the structure of government and therefore politics, Meyrick implies, is the perverse result of a High Court majority that was determined to be non-political. In this way, in theory if not yet in practice, the side of politics that has traditionally been the standard bearer for sub-national sovereignty may have delivered the final blow to the traditional status of the states.

In Chapter 3, Peter Waring and John Burgess return to the productivity question. No-one familiar with their 2005 contribution could read their updated analysis without concluding that 'productivity' is a concept in need of clean air in contemporary Australia. The concept is often presented in a confrontational way, yet no-one could disagree with the aim of improving productivity in principle. Reducing the resources required to increase production is a national pathway to rising standards of living in the traditional materialist sense. But beyond this point of consensus, as Waring and Burgess make unusually clear, the public debate is bedeviled on two sides. To one side, the science of measuring productivity is frequently reduced to elementary assumptions incapable of withstanding the most rudimentary interrogation; to the other, the art of improving productivity is a complex and dynamic field of theory and practice that is characteristically defaced by the aim of shifting costs onto workers and distributing the benefits to consumers and shareholders.

The reductionism and injustice that productivity rhetoric often harbours was exemplified by WorkChoices. The most persistent claim by the Howard government was that the law would increase productivity and improve overall economic performance. As the Webbs remind us, in keeping with the traditional stance of employers favouring individual contracts in the 19th century, the Australian public was frequently warned that the demise of WorkChoices would 'cut at the root of national prosperity'. The argument is no less puzzling to-day than it was in 2005, as Waring and Burgess explain, for 'the exact mechanisms by which productivity was supposed to be stimulated were never clearly articulated.' Among the many considerations, the presumption that individual incomes are, or should be, strictly geared to productivity overlooks the fact that firms do not keep productivity accounts; fails to recognise that productivity is not the only determinant of incomes in the real world, where community norms, labour markets and profitability stubbornly persist; misses the problem that output is difficult to measure and often cannot be measured at all in many occupations and industries; ignores the truth that there are many determinants of productivity apart from labour; and, perversely, can encourage productive workers to hoard inefficiencies as bargaining chips and discourage productivity enhancing capital investment. Waring and Burgess update the (limited) research findings that have become available since 2005 and go further than reaffirming their assessment of the, at best, tenuous relationship between productivity and WorkChoices. In a positive although not uncritical perspective, they also canvas the literature on so-called 'high performance work systems' (HPWS). There is no suggestion in this burgeoning field of study that collective bargaining is less productivity enhancing than other forms of employment. On the contrary, collective bargaining may be more compatible with the team-based approaches that the literature generally supports than individual contracts. More broadly, Waring and Burgess argue that the claims and counter-claims about productivity based on this or that legislative framework are largely beside the point. 'As the HPWS literature suggests', they conclude, 'the real levers for boosting productivity seem to lie in internally consistent bundles of best practice combined with strong levels of management and employee commitment'.

An historical perspective is invaluable for sorting out the doublespeak that was so characteristic of the Howard government's rhetoric about WorkChoices. Was there a more audacious example of insisting that a word 'means just what I want to mean' than the case of the former prime minister invoking 'modernisation' to justify individual bargaining - the very preference which, as the Webbs wrote of the 1870s, 'has so long been the creed of the employers'?10 Cutting through the government's public relations fog, Chapter 4 takes us directly to the heart of the traditional matter that was at issue: collective bargaining. In reflecting on the 2005 analysis that they undertook in conjunction with Chris Briggs, Rae Cooper and Bradon Ellem affirm the fears they had anticipated about less choice, less voice and worse outcomes for workers under WorkChoices. They reprise the reasons why collective bargaining matters, examine the ways in which the government set out to limit the meaningful application of the practice and assess the effects on wages and working conditions. Apart from reinforcing their earlier findings, Cooper and Ellem augment their analysis by looking at the way that WorkChoices affected unions. Against international agreements to which Australia is a party, in a litany that any impartial mind is likely to find chilling, WorkChoices prohibited bargains over what comprised the field of collective bargaining, privileged employer preferences for individual contracts over explicit democratic processes and arbitration, established an asymmetric regime favouring industrial action by employers, and institutionalised wide-ranging licence for the intimidation of union members, workplace representatives and union officials. Where unions existed, their continuation in many workplaces became hostage to the individual employer's whim; while workplaces where unions had not been established were effectively ring-fenced. 'In no comparable country', Cooper and Ellem write, 'is such bargaining inequality enshrined in law'.

In 2005 we allowed for the possibility that there was 'a degree of ambit in the government's offensive, or it may buckle under popular uproar'. Whether fallback or backflip, as the gallows loomed in the form of the federal election, on 4 May 2007 the government duly retreated, announcing amendments to WorkChoices that came into effect on 1 July 2007. Under what conditions do concessions act as palliatives and when do they act as incentives to strengthen demands? In the event, the 'fairness' test that the amendments introduced was too little, too late and too complex, as Cath Bowtell sets out in Chapter 5. It was too little because the amendments ignored all the agreements that had been made over the fourteen months between the commencement of WorkChoices and the announcement of the retreat, arbitrarily stranding nearly a million workers, including almost 350,000 on Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs), in an 'unfair' no-person's land. Another million employees were excluded by virtue of a $75,000 cut-off point, and it was estimated that more than another million again could have been excluded on the basis that they worked in areas that had traditionally been award-free. The retreat was too late because the proximity to the election undermined belief in the government's sincerity, given that there had been no notice of WorkChoices prior to the 2004 election and in light of the well publicised comments by the finance minister, Nick Minchin, to the H. R. Nicholls Society ('there is still a long way to go', he said, 'awards, the IR commission, all the rest of it').11 But, above all, as Bowtell spells out, the amendments were too complex to be of any use for the government's public relations purposes. Central to the mythomania of WorkChoices was the contention that it represented the 'deregulation' of the labour market and the advent of a 'simpler' industrial relations system. The truth was that the new system amounted to a massive and intricate re-regulation of the workplace to privilege employers' preferences, in conjunction with the further decentralisation of regulation. The last minute amendments were added to the original 850 page Workplace Relations Act, the 690 page amendment that was WorkChoices and the further 570 odd pages of regulations that towered over Australia's workplaces. Surrounding this great pile, the fairness test effectively resuscitated all the industrial instruments that the new system had ostensibly replaced to supply socially acceptable benchmarks. Among the anomalies, loopholes, discretions and curiosities were agreements that failed the fairness test, but had replaced agreements made during the fourteen months between the attack and the retreat, when basically anything went. The reversion safeguard for failing the 'fairness' test for these cases could have made the workers concerned even worse off.

'The middle class Anglo Saxon is so accustomed to see men and women engaged in identical work as teachers, journalists, authors, painters, sculptors, comedians, singers, musicians, doctors, clerks, and what not', wrote the Webbs in 1894, 'that he unconsciously assumes the same state of things to exist in manual labour and manufacturing industry'.12 As Meg Smith recounts in Chapter 6, the ignorance of the Australian Fair Pay Commission in unconsciously perpetuating the middle-class assumption that the Webbs had critiqued over a 100 years earlier was 'fathomless'. In revisiting the analysis undertaken with Peter Ewer in 2005, Smith is scathing of the retrograde character of WorkChoices from the standpoint of gender equity. Taken as a whole, she finds it difficult to conceive of any legislation that 'could do more damage to the legal rights and actual entitlements of working women'. The curtailing of the nominal right to equal pay, the effective declaration of ignorance about the issues, and the crippling of recent advances in state jurisdictions, were combined with a disadvantageous bargaining system to comprise, Smith concludes, 'the most telling direct attack on gender pay equity since the original Harvester judgement in 1907 institutionalised discrimination against working women in the first place'.

In the final critique of WorkChoices, the NSW Commission for Children and Young People returns to the implications for children in Chapter 7. Many readers of the 2005 analysis were surprised to find that almost 60 per cent of children aged 12 to 16 years work, and that around 60 per cent of these work for a formal employer. The adverse potential implications for children of a system predicated on the ability of individual workers to bargain on their own behalf are obvious. Nor would the requirement for an adult to counter-sign agreements have necessarily assisted if the adults themselves were unable to assess the implications. On many points, even employers were often confused. These concerns deepened when the NSW Industrial Commission reported on the use of pattern agreements by a number of employers who hired children. These resulted in children being paid rates below those providing fair and reasonable compensation and receiving no payment at all for 'training shifts' and overtime. A further 'condition in the pattern agreement was that the employer was able to fix working hours on any day of the week at any time without payment of an additional allowance'. In light of the evident risks to children, the chapter reviews the nature of the work, outlines the issues in the workplace and details the response by the state government, which led to a formal set of principles for assessing working conditions. A new state law promised protection in the short-term, but the only secure safeguard over time would have been (and would be) to mainstream the regulation of children's work within the primary industrial legislation.

'As those neglected theorists of democracy Sidney and Beatrice Webb observed', the historian, Eric Hobsbawm, recently reflected, '[democracy] cannot judge projects, only results. It is immeasurably better at voting against than voting for.' 13 The final three chapters take us across the divide represented by the federal election to some early measures of what Australians positively voted for in November 2007. Chapter 8 presents a slightly edited transcript of the first national press club address by the new leader of the ACTU, Jeff Lawrence, on 12 March 2008. In a sweeping view, Lawrence presents the trade union movement's agenda for the future and calls on Australia's employers to move beyond the mindset of WorkChoices to join in forging 'a new settlement of workers' rights and industrial laws that is fit for the current century'. The following chapter is also a slightly edited transcript, this time of the landmark speech in the parliament by the new deputy prime minister and labour minister, Julia Gillard, upon the introduction of the Workplace Relations Amendment (Transition to Forward with Fairness) Bill that was enacted on 27 March 2008. As the first major step in rebalancing the industrial relations law, no new individual contracts that overide award conditions have been permitted since 27 March.The transitional period for pre-existing AWAs will expire at the end of next year. A new industrial peace is being struck. The main point of the recent political contention is, or soon will be, gone. Australia is moving on.

Finally, the collection concludes in Chapter 10 with another original piece of work in which Chris White looks into the future for the right to strike. White reminds us that, even when the new government introduces its substantial legislation to replace WorkChoices, Australia's industrial laws will still fall short of fully complying with international agreements to which the nation is a party. The Rudd government has insisted that its proposed reforms have 'got the balance right'. In the wake of the Howard era, it is possible that the government has struck something of a realistic political balance, but there remain good arguments to be had over the balance of bargaining rights. Strikes are almost invariably complex events within which important principles can come into play. Paradoxically, moreover, the introduction of heavy sanctions against strikes has come after almost a century-long declining trend in the number of days lost to industrial action. Indeed, the available statistics suggest that the days lost to occupational injuries during the 1990s exceeded those lost due to industrial disputes by a large margin -- implying that the sanctions have been put in the wrong place, at least from a productivity perspective.14 Has the bipartisan consensus on putting the boot into workers taking industrial action recently appeared because it is the right thing to do? Or has it emerged because the state has figured out that action is now of such slight occurrence that supression is something it can do? Be this as it may, the difficulty in debate over the topic is that another one of the legacies of the Howard era is the mobilisation of a virulent conservative media on industrial relations. So strident is editorial partisanship in this area, it is hard to imagine a reasoned public debate being able to take place at all over questions such as the right to strike. Notwithstanding the propensity for extinguishing sparks with hysterical headlines about union 'thugs' and 'bully boys' who want nothing more than to 'hold the country to ransom', this last reflection is offered in the spirit of continuing discussion about workers' rights in the future.


No-one could read the two landmark surveys of industrial relations in 19th century Britain by Sidney and Beatrice Webb today without encountering frequent reminders of Australia under the Howard government. The classes in conflict, the principles at odds, the rhetorical and legal tactics deployed and the social atmospherics that arose during the Howard years were, by and large, well worn a hundred years ago. The political jokes about John Howard's vision being 'back to the future' were supposed to be about the former prime minister's affection for the 1950s. The experience of his government's industrial relations direction bore no resemblance. The idea that serious social concerns could arise about laws that increased the risks for children at work, for example, was one thing that people in the 1950s profoundly believed that they had well and truly left behind with Dickens.15 A not unrelated fact is that the membership of Australia's trade unions comprised over half the workforce during the whole decade. Wherever one imagines that John Howard was attempting to take Australia's workplaces before he fell to the voters, it was not the 1950s.

Although trade union membership now comprises a relatively smaller proportion of around 20 per cent of employees, or about two million workers, the extraordinary success of the campaign against WorkChoices demonstrated the continuing vitality of organised labour in Australia. Moreover, the trade union movement underwent some important changes during the Howard years. While the government was indulging idealised 19th century employer sentiment, unions moved decisively into the era where the 'public' is primarily constituted by the electronic media outlets. This shift in strategic focus was heralded during the 1998 waterfront dispute, when the labour movement wrong-footed and then reversed the government's bid to deliver the Maritime Union a deadly dose of publicity in conjunction with the mass lock-out at Patrick Stevedores. The saturation coverage of the dispute re-auspiced unions within the electronic media, establishing fresh credibility and introducing new leaders to supply a platform for the later campaign.16 The 'Your Rights at Work' campaign entailed much more than television, of course. But the union leadership was undoubtedly correct in devoting resources to ensuring that the issues had a pronounced presence on the small screen, not least because this provided a public focus for the grassroots campaign. The need for electronic coverage was partly a function of the hyper-real way in which politics generally occurs in the late modern period. But in part it was also a practical necessity in Australia, where the two major newspaper proprietors control over 90 per cent of the nation's daily metropolitan circulation and conventionally carry an anti-union editorial stance. The degree of monopoly is double the average ownership concentration in the developed world's 18 long established democracies.17 The implication is that, if industrial issues are not covered electronically in Australia today, they almost may as well not exist for public campaigning purposes.

The incorporation of television as a strategic and defining site of industrial relations had general effects, aside from the crucial role that the advertising played in influencing public opinion. One was the way that the engagement refreshed the general public image of trade unions, workers and industrial relations, placing them within contemporary social contexts. The now famous image of a fraught woman being harshly treated by her employer over the phone, as she struggled to balance shift work and childcare, was a long way from the masculine images that have traditionally dominated labour iconography. If we assume the impact of images upon a wide public is only limited by the degree to which it connects with people's own experience, this was a scene that left few untouched. Likewise, 'footy dads' losing pay and conditions appeared remote from the old fashioned caricatures of beefy blokes in boiler suits that the government (and cartoonists) tended to rely upon for depicting organised labour. More traditionally, the portrait of the boys in the corporate backroom voting themselves bonuses as they cut labour costs modernised the fat man with the cigar and top hat. Needless to say, the more the public also saw of the president and then secretary of the ACTU, Sharan Burrow and Greg Combet, the less likely they also were to swallow the government's variants on the time-honoured 'evils of trade union dictatorship'.

In conclusion, the Howard years stimulated Australia's unions into coming to terms with the values and opportunities embodied by the electronic media, one upshot of which was to renew the general aesthetics associated with the country's industrial relations. No doubt there are many other developments and consequences that still need to be defined, digested and recounted in the wake of the victorious campaign, as Australia once again takes steps toward the challenges that the future presents. This collection will have achieved its objectives to the extent that it assists those who wish to understand what the recent political struggle was about, who need to remember what it was about, or who want to join the ongoing debates as the transition occurs.

Dr Christopher Sheil is the editor of The State of Industrial Relations, Evatt Papers, Vol. 5, No.1, (Evatt Foundation, Sydney, 2008), and the President of the Evatt Foundation. Also on the Evatt site, read the foreword to the new book by Chris Gambian.


1. Webb, S. & B., Industrial Democracy, Longmans, London, 1894 (1902 edn), p. 847

2. For the United Kingdom, see Webb, S. & B., The History of Trade Unionism, Longmans, London, 1894 (1920 edn), p. 256; Gollan, R. A., Radical and Working Class Politics: A Study of Eastern Australia 1859 to 1911, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1960, p. 80.

3. Peetz, D., Unions in a Contrary World: The Future of the Australian Trade Union Movement, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, p. 85.

4. Ibid., p. 105.

5. Kelly, P. The End of Certainty: The Story of the 1980s, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, p. 1. On the general point, see esp. chs 2, 5 & 13.

6. Sheil, C.(ed.), War on the Wharves: A Cartoon History, Pluto Press, Sydney, 1998, p. 127.

7. Sheil C. (ed.), The State of the States: The State of Industrial Relations, Evatt Foundation, Sydney, 2005.

8. 'We have listened and we have learned, and one of the issues that was very important to the Australian people in changing the Government on November 24 was that of WorkChoices. We've listened to the Australian people, we respect the decisions they have made, and WorkChoices is dead.' ('Nelson declares WorkChoices dead', ABC Online News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 19 December 2007).

9. The History of Trade Unionism, p. 281.

10. West, A., 'Union dominance a danger: PM', Sydney Morning Herald, 15 October 2007.

11. Industrial Democracy, p. 495.

12. Hobsbawm, E. J. Globalisation, Democracy and Terrorism, Abacus, London, 2008, p. 109.

13. Harley, B., 'Managing industrial conflict', in Isaac J. & S. Macintyre (eds), The New Province for Law and Order: 100 years of Australian Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration, Cambridge, Melbourne, pp. 322-6.

14. For the novelty of the 1950s in this respect, see Hobsbawm, E. J., Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century, Michael Joseph, London, p. 318.

15. For an assessment of the coverage, see Sheil, C., 'The year of the dogs', Maritime Workers' Journal, April 2008.

16. Nor is the concentration good for the print business. In the last 30 years of the 20th century, press circulation in the major democracies fell on average by about 15 per cent as a proportion of the population, whereas in Australia the fall was 50 per cent. By contrast, about 99 per cent of Australians own at least one television and on average they watch over 20 hours of programs a week, equal to about 36 per cent of their leisure time. See Cunningham, S. & G. Turner (eds), The Media and communications in Australia 2nd edition, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2006, pp. 98-100, 175.