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Analysis and Comment (35)

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…
The Abbott government is moving to re-establish a commission dealing with construction union militancy, but the CFMEU says it won’t back down. AAP/Juilan Smith

Revived construction sector watchdog more politics than productivity

Australia’s construction union will not back down on militancy in the face of tougher laws surrounding construction sites, according to controversial union boss Joe McDonald. The Abbott government last…
Millions of workers struggle on the emerging periphery while those at the core enjoy the benefits of stability and skills. Shutterstock

Life on edge as new divide ignored

The Fair Work Commission’s recent wage review may have struck an increased pay deal for low-paid workers but its decision overlooks the growth of a worrying new divide in the Australian workforce. With…
Civilians rescue an injured worker after the eight-storey Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on April 24. AAP

Mind the gap: company disclosure discrepancies not sustainable

The recent decision by two Australian retailers to sign an accord protecting suppliers in Bangladesh has highlighted discrepancies in company disclosure of sustainability issues and the need for clearer…
Old Labour: Those on stage rattle your jewellery, the rest of you wave your flat caps. PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Labour, the unions and the breaking of the British working class

Foundation essay: This essay on the Labour Party and its relationship with the working class and the trade union movement in Britain is part of a series of articles marking the launch of The Conversation…
This election year, taxation, industrial relations and red tape will feature prominently on the business community’s agenda. AAP

This election year, business will push for a triumph of policy over paralysis

The business community was effectively sidelined at the last federal election, and they felt somewhat miffed about it. Business associations were caught flat-footed at the suddenness of Julia Gillard’s…
Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten has ruled out making any sweeping changes to the Fair Work Act. AAP

Fair Work Act review: weighing up the evidence, the spin and the wedge

The post implementation review of the Fair Work Act, 2009, was released this afternoon. A three member panel – Professor Ron McCallum, Dr John Edwards and Michael Moore – produced the three hundred–odd…
Paul Howes (pictured) believes the Greens represent a threat to Labor’s electability. AAP

Labour pains cause ALP to see red over Greens

Governments and their partisans are usually reluctant to admit that they might be unpopular for a reason. Labor partisans have offered many explanations for the unpopularity of the Gillard government…
The union scandal surrounding Labor MP Craig Thompson shows just why the Labor party should re-consider its relationship with the unions. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

The Health Services Union scandal and Labor’s unhappy political marriage

The Health Services Union’s scandal continues with calls for its national president to resign and moves to remove Kathy Jackson, the whistleblower who first revealed claims of credit card misuse, from…
Former Health Services Union head Craig Thomson represents a vital vote for the Gillard government. AAP Image/Penny Bradfield

Health Services Union: why union members deserve better

The ACTU yesterday voted to suspend the Health Servives Union from affiliation until they can prove that issues of governance have been dealt with appropriately. Although it does seem to have been a slow…
Will arbitration by Fair Work Australia provide the outcome Qantas chief Alan Joyce wants? Not necessarily. AAP

The Qantas dispute: What next and a recap

Memo to the Qantas public relations team: if you mount a Twitter campaign calling for travellers' luxury flying experiences in the middle of an unresolved industrial dispute, be aware there might be a…
Alan Joyce walked with staff in August - but what will win them back now? AAP

How might Qantas rebuild relations with its workforce?

It is possible to rebuild relations after major disputes. British Airways is currently trying to do just that after a long industrial-relations dispute with many of its flight attendants. Qantas’s CEO…
The Police Association of Victoria fought hard and smart to ensure they won a payrise promised to them during the 2010 election campaign. AAP/Julian Smith

The thin blue bottom line: how Victoria’s police re-defined public pay battles

The Police Association of Victoria recently secured a pay rise of nearly 19 per cent over four years for its members. Lessons drawn from the Police Association’s success should bolster the bargaining power…
In debate over the Qantas IR dispute, the truth of the Fair Work Act is the elephant in the room. AAP

Before calling for reform, let’s get our Fair Work facts straight

The drawn-out dispute between Qantas and unions that led to the airline’s entire fleet being grounded over the weekend has sparked calls for reform of Australia’s industrial relations laws. Business leaders…

Research Briefs (1)