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Unions

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WHY HAVE UNIONS WITNESSED A DECLINE
IN MEMBERSHIP IN RECENT YEARS?

ITRODUCTION

WHAT ARE UNIONS?

UNIONS ARE INFLUENTIAL AND BROADLY BASED
ORGANIZATIONS WHICH REPRESENT IT’S MEMBERS, WHO
ARE USUALLY EMPLOYEE’S. THEY HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR
A LONG IN AUSTRALIA AND EXPERIENCED MIXED
RESPONSES FROM THE GENERAL PUBLIC AS WELL AS
EMPLOYER’S.

OBJECTIVES OF A UNION: THE PRIMARY OBJECTIVE
OF A UNION IS TO PROVIDE OR IMPROVE THE WELL-BEING
OF IT’S MEMBER’S. IT WAS FORMED TO COUNER THE
SUPERIOR ECONOMIC POWER OF EMPLOYER’S. IT’S MOST
IMPORTANT FUNCTION IS TO MAXIMISE WAGES AND
SALARIES SUBJECT TO CERTAIN EMPLOYMENT
CONSTAINTS AND TO RAISE THE ECONOMIC CONDITIONS
UNDER WHICH WORK IS DONE.

WHY DO EMPLOYEE’S JOIN UNONS?

AN EMPLOYEE CAN BE MOTIVATED BY INSTUMENTAL
CONSIDERATIONS, IDEOLOGICAL BELIEFS OR SIMPLY
COMPULSION, BUT THERE SEEMS TO BE 3 MAJOR FACTORS
THAT LEAD EMPLOYEES TO BE UNIONIZED:

DISSATISFACTION WITH THE ECONOMIC ASPECTS
OF THE JOB
DESIRE TO INFLUENCETHOSE ASPECTS OF THE WORK
ENVIRONMENT THROUGH UNION ORIENTATED
MEANS
BELIEF THAT BENEFITS OF UNIONISM OUTWEIGH
EXPECTED COSTS

MOST COMMONLY, EMPLOYEE’S JOIN BECAUSE OF THEIR
COMMITTMENT TO THE VALUES OR PRINCIPLES OF
UNIONISM. (INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS- A CONTEMPORARY
ANALYSIS, DEERY S., PLOWMAN D., WALSH J. P 7.16)

WHY ARE UNIONS WITNESSING DECLINE?

THERE ARE MANY POSSIBLE REASONS TO SUGGEST THE
DECLINE IN MEMBERSHIP BUT 3 FACTORS STAND OUT:

1.) CHANGING COMPOSITION OF
EMPLOYMENT

- PRIVATE AND PUBLIC SECTOR

MOST OF THE EMPLOYMENT GROWTH THAT
OCCURED IN THE AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY IN
THE 80’S AND 90’S WAS CONFINED TO THE
PRIVATE SECTOR WHOSE UNION DENSITY
RATE OF 25 % WAS CONSIDERABLY LOWER
THAN THAT OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR WHICH
WAS 56 %.

IT WAS ESTIMATED THAT PUBLIC
ENPLOYMENT FELL ALMOST 8 %.

- STUCTURAL CHANGES IN THE MIX OF
INDUSTRIES, SECTORS AND OCCUPATIONS.

A CONTINUING DECLINE IN THE
MANUFACTURING SECTOR TO OTHER
SECTORS IN THE INDUSTRY. THE
PROLIFERATION OF NON REGULAR FORMS OF
EMPLOYMENT, PARTICULARLY CASUAL JOBS
AND SELF-EMPLOYMENTAT THE EXPENSE OF
TRADITONAL FULL TIME JOBS.

BUT UNIONS ARE SEEMED TO BE BLAMED FOR
THE LOW LEVEL REPRESENTATION OF
CASUALS. UNIONS DO NOT RECRUIT CASUALS
AS ASSIDUOUSLY AS FULL TIMERS, BECAUSE
UF THE HIGH ORGANIZATIONAL COSTS
INVOLVED.

- SIZE OF THE FIRMS

70 % OF SMALL WORKPLACES WITH 5-19
EMPLOYEE’S HAD NO UNION MEMBER’S
COMPARED WITH ONLY 4 % OF LARGE
WOR...

... middle of paper ...

...AND
THEREAFTER FROM 1901 UNTIL 1921 WHERE UNION
MEMBERSHIP GREW FROM VIRTUALLY 0 TO MORE THAN
HALF OF THE AUSTRALIAN WORKFORCE, AND AGAIN A
SLUMP UNTIL 1924. AS RESTRUCTURING IS IMPORTANT
AND VITAL TO UNION MOVEMENTS, IT IS TIME CONSUMING
AND IS A PROCEDURE WHICH HAS TO BE SLOWLY PHASED
IN, DUE TO THESE FACTORS IT IS REGARDEDAS LONG TERM
AND CANNOT BE CORRECTED OVERNIGHT.

TO CONCLUDE, WE HAVE LOOKED AT ALL THE REASONS
CONTRIBUTING TO THE DECLINING UNION MEMBERS IN
AUSTRALIA. IN SPECULATION IT CAN BE SEEN THAT WHEN
THIS DECLINE STARTED, WHAT CONTRIBUTED TO THE
DECLINE AND THE EFFECTS SUFFERED BY UNIONS BECAUSE
OF THIS DECLINE. BY COMPARING AUSTRALIA’S
MEMBERSHIP DECLINE TO THAT OF OTHER COUNTRIES
FACED WITH THE SAME PROBLEMS, IT CAN BE SEEN THAT
THE FALL OF MEMBERSHIP HAS BEEN MODERATE. AS THIS
PAPER OUTLINES, ALL THE VARIOS CAUSES CONTRIBUTING
TO THESE PROBLEMS AND THE DIFFERENT SECTORS IN THE
INDUSTRY FROM WHICH THESE PROBLEMS ORIGINATE, IT
IS SAFE TO SAY THAT UNIONS ARE FACED WITH A
DIFFICULT TASK OF RESTRUCTURING, BUT AS IN THE PAST
WHERE THERE HAS BEEN DECREASES AND INCREASES IN
UNION MEMBERSHIP, TIME WILL SHOW THE
UNPREDICTABLE SHIFTS IN UNION MEMBERSHIPS IN
AUSTRALIA.
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