Essays on The Decline in Union Density in Australia over the Past 30 Years Case Study

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The paper "The Decline in Union Density in Australia over the Past 30 Years" is a perfect example of a macro and microeconomic case study.   In the 20th century, trade unions have been a critical factor in the political platform and the labour market in the majority of the industrialized nations. However, in the 21st century, some spectators claim that organized labour looks to going for extinction (Barton, Snell & Fairbrother, 2008). The existence of these Trade Unions and their political and economic influence lies on their capability to nurture and attract loyal membership including other indicators like the mobilizing capability, the stand on the public opinion and bargaining coverage.

Therefore, Barton, Snell & Fairbrother (2008) argue that it is vital to recognize which actors determine the stability and the degree of unionization, especially given the decline of stagnation of union density and membership seen in several countries in the recent years. Australia is one of the countries which has witnessed a decline in union density over the years. Therefore, this essay explains the decline in union density in Australia over the past 30-odd years.

It will also evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies of the union to correct this decline. According to Sano & Williamson (2008, p. 480), union density is defined as the number of paid employees who are members of a trade union and acts as an indicator of its strength. It can also be defined as the proportion of eligible employees, which can be applied to show the extent to which the employees are well organized. Nevertheless, the union density just measures the degree of unionization and but shows very little concerning the bargaining power or influence of the unions.

Peetz & Bailey (2012, p. 54) contended that in the 20th century, the nature of Australian trade unionism emerged as the agreements for the obligatory arbitration and conciliation of the industrial disputes were implemented by Commonwealth and other countries. Strengthened by the regulatory practice, Australia union density did not decline below 40 percent in the period of 1913 to1992 but was generally higher (Leigh, 2005, p. 293). The core place of the trade unionism in Australian’ s economic health looked immutable. Nonetheless, this idea has turned out to be untenable.

As it stands today, the number of union density has gone down tremendously and less than 20% (Griffin, 2007, p. 549). Whilst unionism precisely gained from obligatory arbitration, and faced the challenge in equal measures, it is one-sided to argue that the increase and sustainability of industrial employment in Australia has been dependent on this industrial regulation system. The Industrial labour was in existence for more than 80 years prior to arbitration law. Its fast growth in the 1900s was attributed to several factors on top of arbitration consist the organizing efforts or the union movement, favorable conditions in labour markets and growth of manufacturing (Nickell, Nunziata & Ochel, 2005, p. 3).

The reports of declining union density or membership in Australia in recent years have made an impression that trade unions are a fading entity. However, this argument is turning out to be true. In fact, the Australian union density has dropped significantly in recent years from 49% of employees in the 1980s to nearly 18 percent in 2005 (Bowden, 2011, p. 55). Experts give reasons for the drop of union density in Australia include the increase in inequality in earning, labour market factors, structural changes, employer strategies, employer attitude and regulatory environments.


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