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Inside the Unions

A Comparative Analysis of Policy-Making in Australian and British Printing and Telecommunication Trade Unions


Ed Blisset

This book consists of a comparative analysis of policy-making in Australian and British telecommunications and printing trade unions. It tests the validity of different theoretical models of union policy-making and behaviour, whilst also assessing the strength of the book’s hypothesis, that informal micro-political influences inside unions – such as personal friendships, enmities and loyalties – affect union policy-making to a greater extent than has been previously acknowledged in the literature.
Two central questions lie at the heart of this book: How, and why, do unions adopt specific policies? What factors explain the different behaviour of similar unions, when faced with comparable policy choices?
As a former senior union officer the author realised that trade unions are often wary of publically disclosing those factors which informed their policy choices. For this reason an interview-rich methodology was adopted, which involved a seventeen-year longitudinal study, in which over 220 officers and staff of all the relevant unions, were interviewed in depth. The result is a book which throws new light on the rich and complex process of union policy-making.


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Acknowledgements ix Abbreviations xi Chapter 1 Introduction 1 Chapter 2 Methodology 9 Chapter 3 Union Policy-Making: Theoretical Perspectives 31 Chapter 4 The British Printing Unions: Pre-1980 63 Chapter 5 The Australian Printing Unions: Pre-1980 85 Chapter 6 The British Telecommunication Unions: Pre-1980 101 Chapter 7 The Australian Telecommunication Unions: Pre-1980 119 viii Chapter 8 The British Printing Unions: 1980–1996 137 Chapter 9 The Australian Printing Unions: 1980–1996 205 Chapter 10 The British Telecommunication Unions: 1980–1996 243 Chapter 11 The Australian Telecommunication Unions: 1980–1996 279 Chapter 12 Summary and Findings 309 Chapter 13 Conclusion 333 Appendix 1 List of Participants 339 Appendix 2 List of Original Sources 341 Glossary 345 Bibliography 347 Index 357

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