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The Labor Party that Bill Shorten leads is much more professionalised in its MP make-up than its earlier incarnations. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Class warfare: would Shorten pass the test that Ed Miliband failed?

For British Labour leader Ed Miliband, defeat was yet again snatched from the jaws of victory. With the UK general election less than six months away, the recent Rochester and Strood by-election was a…
The problem confronting Labor and federal leader Bill Shorten is not so much the ties with unions as the centralisation of power in the party and a handful of affiliated unions. AAP/Lukas Coch

Labor will be making a mistake if it simply divorces the unions

Proposed reforms in the Australian Labor Party aim to give members a greater voice in party governance and policy development. This is driven by the need to reverse the party’s shrinking support base after…
Bill Shorten’s objective of an ‘inclusive’ Labor Party is hard to argue against in theory, but achieving it in practice is likely to prove fraught. AAP/Julian Smith

Shorten, the unions and the challenge of Labor Party reform

Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten has outlined his vision for a rejuvenated Labor Party. His speech earlier this week was a call to arms for the reform of federal Labor’s organisational rules. While Shorten’s…
The Australian Labor Party is constantly faced with an expectation to be true to traditional ‘Labor values’ but to then adapt them to a changing Australia. AAP/Daniel Munoz

Identity crisis: who does the Australian Labor Party represent?

In the wake of the ALP’s poor result in the recent Western Australia Senate election, The Conversation is publishing a series of articles looking at the party’s brand, organisation and future prospects…
British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has embarked on sweeping internal reform of his party. Should his Australian counterpart Bill Shorten follow suit? EPA/Andy Rain

Whither the unions? What Shorten can learn from UK Labour

In the wake of the ALP’s poor result in the recent Western Australia Senate election, The Conversation is publishing a series of articles looking at the party’s brand, organisation and future prospects…
The only likely beneficiaries of a union-Labor split may be trade unionists. AAP

Why ending union ties would change little for Labor

In the wake of the ALP’s poor result in the recent Western Australia Senate election, The Conversation is publishing a series of articles looking at the party’s brand, organisation and future prospects…
Factional dealings saw Labor senator Louise Pratt demoted in favour of conservative union heavyweight Joe Bullock in the ALP’s WA Senate ticket. AAP/Alan Porritt

The ALP becomes its own worst enemy in WA Senate shambles

The only surprising factor in the stories regarding Joe Bullock, who held the number one position on the ALP Senate ticket at Saturday’s Western Australian Senate byelection, was that they took so long…
Trade unions' survival-based strategy has left them reliant on an outdated ideology of class conflict. AAP/Dean Lewins

How the cottage industries in class ideology did themselves in

The Conversation is running a series, Class in Australia, to identify, illuminate and debate its many manifestations. Here, Chris Peers argues that the union movement and academics debased the currency…
The ‘brittle’ side of industrial relations: CFMEU members in dispute with their employer, Energy Australia. Julian Smith/AAPImage

Enterprise bargaining no great problem, but no panacea either

Over the course of the last few months, industrial relations has once again become a major issue on the national political agenda. Allegations of union corruption, uncompetitive wage deals, inflexible…
The Abbott government isn’t the first to take aim at corruption in the construction industry. Alan Porritt/AAP

Royal Commission take three: construction sector still lawless

In light of the upcoming Royal Commission into trade union corruption, it’s worth asking if the recommendations of the two previous Commissions into the construction industry, together with other state…
What do the royal commission into union corruption’s terms of reference, as released by the Abbott government, suggest about the scope of its inquiry? AAP/Dan Peled

Royal commission gets broad brief to crack union corruption

The terms of reference for a royal commission into allegations of corruption and misconduct in the unions were lodged earlier this week by the federal government. The remit of the royal commission is both…
Show me the way to go home. Martin Keene/PA Wire

Commuter chaos, but Tube staff make moral case for strike

Predictably, the newspapers have been full of reports of “Tube chaos”, millions “facing transport misery”. In the Daily Mail, an enterprising editor has conflated the storms which have caused rail cancellations…
Would you admit to being a teacher? David Davies/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Would you admit to being a teacher today?

Are you a teacher? When you are at a party, a wedding or in the pub, and asked: “What do you do for a living?” – what do you say? Why might you lie? Is it too boring? Too complicated? Much too likely to…
Politics can be removed from reform, such as to weed out alleged corruption in Australia’s building industry, without challenging its success. AAP/Julian Smith

Corruption in construction: building reform from the ground up

As allegations of corruption in Australia’s construction unions continue to emerge, the scandal – purportedly involving underworld heavyweight Mick Gatto and bikie gangs – appears to be an Underbelly script…
Firefighters are protesting new pension plans, but the status quo is unaffordable. Yui Mok/PA

Deadlock over pensions forces firefighters out on strike again

Firefighters have once again voted to go on strike in England and Wales, their fifth strike since September. This might seem like a high number of walkouts, but the Fire Brigades Union (FBU)’s reputation…
The Falkirk juggernaut rumbles on. David Cheskin/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Falkirk saga plays right into Cameron’s hands

After the controversies of the past few weeks, the coalition government has launched a review of trade union tactics, to be led by Bruce Carr QC. The issue of union activities and the relationship between…

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