The Federation Press

Australia’s Unions

A death or a difficult birth?


This is a compelling read.

Macken speaks through the eyes of Billy Luscombe, an old union man who reviews and dreams of the past and the future of unions.

Together, they examine the effects of the modern cultural changes on the union movement in Australia. They explain the nature of secular change and reviews the mistakes made by the unions in trying to handle such change. They point to successful unions and the reasons they have grown when other unions have declined.Optimistic about the future of unionism, they speculate on the differing forms such unions will take.

Macken cleverly deals with the future of Australia’s union movement in an entertaining way. This is a must read for unionists, industrial relations personnel and all Australians who care about rights, and all those who hope for the future.

’In Australia’s Unions Macken argues that the employment revolution challenges us all, how unions and governments should cope with it, how individuals must apparently come to terms with mid-life retraining, shifting families from a home town to chase work wherever it can be found. Macken sees part of the solution in worker co-ops and union sponsored employment agencies. But these, like the Unemployed Workers Union, are micro solutions to a very macro problem. They will help some; others, perhaps many, will miss out....’ - Mark Hearn, Southland

Table of Contents

Prologue: The last rites

‘Allons enfants . . .’
A revolution
Schism in the soul
How many revolutions?

Pessimism of intellect
The corporate revolution
The end of the nation states
The employment revolution
The wages revolution
The hours revolution
The managerial revolution
The demographic revolution
The female revolution
The technological revolution
Workers . . . but not employees
The breakdown of cultural structure
The end of strikes
Pessimism of intellect

Optimism of will
Back to basics
The mining industry
The textile and clothing trades
The finance sector
The road transport industry
Union employment agencies
Union services
The cultural revolution at mid-point

The responses of archaism and futurism
The ‘dialectic of disintegration’
Tomorrow belongs to us . . .


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