|Issue No 90||30 March 2001|
STOP PRESS: Union Numbers Up - ABS
ABS data released today shows that the number of union members in Australia has increased for the first time in over a decade.
Union membership grew by 23,600 last year compared to a decrease of 208,000 in 1999.
ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said the rise reflected the increased focus of unions on grass roots organisation and a growing concern in the community that the anti-union approach of the Howard Government and some employers was damaging the fabric of Australian society.
"I am cautiously optimistic about these figures. To achieve a just and fair society Australia needs effective unions and there are signs that our strategy for revitalising unions is on the right track," said Mr Combet.
In August 1999 Mr Combet launched unions@work, a strategy document for Australian unions which encouraged a greater focus on workplace activity and organisation.
Many unions have since adopted the strategy which has
seen union membership and activity grow in some areas.
But Mr Combet said that the decline in union density in Australia over recent years was an issue for the whole community and not just unions.
Governments and employers needed to start recognising and respecting the right of employees to join and participate in unions he said.
"Instead of taking pleasure in any sign that union membership has decreased, Tony Abbott and John Howard should tell the Australian people what they are doing about increased income inequality, job insecurity,
casualisation and longer working hours. Because that's what their anti-union policies have delivered to Australian workers."
While today's data shows a slight reduction in union density to 25% due to the growth in overall job numbers, Mr Combet said he was encouraged by an increases in absolute and relative union numbers in growth industries like
health, tourism and accommodation and the fact that unionisation increased in half of all industries surveyed.
Another ABS survey released yesterday shows that more than a third of all workers in permanent jobs are union members and that 27% of all employees say they belong to a union.
"Our research shows that the vast majority of Australians support policies based on fairness in the workplace. This is what unions stand for and today's figures reflect that understanding," said Mr Combet.
Interview: On the Up and Up
On the eve of new figures showing the slide in union membership may be bottoming out, ACTU secretary Greg Combet takes stock of the state of the movement.
Unions: Organising Theory
Labor Council’s Chris Christodoulou reports back from this week’s ACTU Organising Conference
Economics: The Failure of the Third Way
In his presentation to this week's ACTU Organising Conference, John Buchanan painted a dark picture of the emerging labour market.
History: Emblems of Unity
The Gregory J. Smith Collection of Trade Union badges was auctioned today in Sydney. Smith compiled a book on 763 of his remarkable collection which was published in 1992.
Legal: Della's Compo Plan
Labour lawyer Richard Brennan places the NSW workers compensation reforms under the microscope.
International: East Timor Goes Union
Workers in the fledgling nation have established their equivalent to the ACTU to build a safety net for workers.
Satire: Management for the Post-Industrial World
A new management fad is sweeping the post-industrial world, which has major social and political implications at the macro and micro level. We have called it "Purge Management Strategy" (PMS).
Review: Surviving The Temptations of TV Island
Cultural analyst Mark Morey rakes over the coals of American TV culture to find very little is there.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005