Take home exam: Industrial Relations Question 1:Treuren (2000), in an article entitled, ‘The concept of the state in Australian industrial relations theory’, questions and tries to answer the lack of apparent recognition for the role that the state has to play in the manner in which the altruism of industrial relations were played out and decided in Australian research, thought and literature. He comes with an assumption stating that there was absence of the state from Australian literature with respect to the factors defining industrial relations, and goes on to explain the reasons for this absence.
It is in these reasons that one would find the fact and myth of his assumption. First, he says, the manner in which industry would deal with its relations in terms of laborers and labor laws were set from the time that the federation came into existence, which meant that state factors that would have an impact on industrial relations were matters of historical and not of research on the subject. The expansion of relations meant that focus shifted to tribunals and trade unions instead of the state.
The second reason he explains in terms of the fact that Australian theory related to the state and state’s role has been inspired by and large by the traditions inherent in the Anglo-Saxon thought. The fact that the state disappeared from these writings for a while after the war, reflected in Australian research as well. The third reason for the hesitant recognition of the state lies in the implicit theoretical dominance of pluralism within mainstream industrial relations. This was led by Dunlop who saw the state as simply one among the many agents, within the largely politically determined policy environment.
This thought while recognizing the role of the state in the realms of decision and policy making, considers the processes inherent in the state as a reflection of the mandate of the larger electorate. One also finds validity for the assumptions in the fact that for most of the last century, the role of the state has seen it stand in support of collective methods of regulation and of dispute settlement. The extent of the state’s role was restricted to the employment of command and control regulations-hard legal rules that were backed by state enforced sanctions-the idea for the state was that there state ensure conciliation and arbitration compulsory.
Most of this is to understood with a change in the policy stance of the state since the decade of the 1990s, when the state dropped its stance of collective bargain and there was a trend of individualization, wherein the role of the state changed from supporting collective responsibility to self regulation by industrial actors. The idea is to pose a challenge the aggressive collectivism posed challenge of unionization.
It is in this context that one understands the role of the Fair Work Act, 2009, which brings the role of the state back in focus, first by individually coming to the defence of the laborer and second by discouraging collectivism (Forsyth, 2009).