Hi, binaural-ga !
An employer's perspective on national wage fixation in Australia, by
Dr. Steven Kates can be found at:
It is a pdf document from which will not allow me to "cut and paste"
quotes for you, but it explains the centralised system of the
Australian workplace relations very clearly, including the work of the
Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and would be an excellent
starting point for you.
The Australian National University site has a wealth of links to
australian unions and employer associations at:
Until comparatively recently it was obligatory for a worker to belong
to the relevant trade union, but compulsory unionism was dropped about
seven or eight years ago. Some stronger unions, such as the waterside
workers can still practically impose a "closed shop" on their
industry, but smaller unions do not have that power. Unions such as
the Australian Nurses Federation:
and the Teachers Federation are very active on behalf of their
members, constantly seeking improvements in wages and conditions.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions lobbies on behalf of trade
unions in general . Their website:
has articles on all their latest campaigns. They are currently much
involved presenting the case for paid maternity leave.
The Trade Union movement is very active in presenting the worker's
point of view in the National Wage Case, a legal process which
determines the minimum wage which it is permissble to pay in
Australia. They also present the case for each particular industry
when minimum award rates for that industry is set based on skills
required, among other factors.
An article by Nick Hughes on Community Arts in Australia at:
has a historical summary:
"With regard to the role of unions in Australian life, I hardly know
where to start! The union movement has been more centrally important
in the development of Australian political life than it has in America
(from what little I know of the American union movement.) There has
always been a close tie-up between the Union movement and the Labor
Party in Australia. But the relationship has been neither
straightforward nor homogenous. Both the Union movement and the Labor
Party have had their progressive and their reactionary wings.
During the Hawke and Keating Labor governments (1983-1996), a close
working relationship developed between the Government and the
Australian Council of Trades Unions (ACTU, the Trades Union Federal
peak body). This close relationship was expressed in terms of a series
of "Accords," by the terms of which the Unions agreed to restrain wage
demands in return for general incremental increases in pay and
conditions. This enabled the Government to achieve a level of control
over the economy in general and inflation in particular that was the
envy of OECD economists.
As in the U.S., membership of Australian unions has been falling in
recent years, and the biggest challenge for the future is to
re-establish the relevance of Union membership for Australian workers.
The election of the Liberal (conservative) Howard Government in 1996
has seen a return to confrontational policies in industrial relations
and Australian Unions are gearing up for the coming struggles. The
recent decimation of the Union movement in New Zealand has stiffened
the resolve of the Australian movement to fight for its own continued
There is also an aticle by M.D.R. Evans on "Public opinion on trade
unions in Australia: continuity and change" published on the Worldwide
Attitudes website of 25th March 1996 at:
This covers research work done on the general public's attitude
towards trade unions in general, and may be of interest.
I hope this proves useful.
"national wage case Australia"