In an increasingly individualised workplace, unions can no longer rely on organising tactics to survive. Instead, they need to undertake a major "rebranding".
The Fair Work Act delivers a much more peculiar system of collective bargaining than many realise. It has outcomes that contradict the hopes and fears of both sides of the IR debate.
Unions may well feel justifiably aggrieved by the findings – and impact – of the trade union royal commission, but there are nonetheless lessons to be learnt from them.
While trade unions still exert some influence on the ALP, it is nowhere near as much as it once was.
Female workers are now more highly unionised than their male colleagues, but unions still have a long way to go to reflect that shift.
Even though union membership has dropped to just 15%, unions still have an important role to play in ensuring that workers have meaningful input into how their workplaces are run.
A diminishing membership base, changes to labour and industry and heightened political attention has left the once-powerful trade union movement flailing.