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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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Chapter 5 The Australian Printing Unions: Pre-1980


Introduction In this chapter, the manner in which the contemporary structures and industrial polices of the Australian print unions have been inf luenced by the historical development of their organisation and political processes will be addressed. Specifically the development of the Australian print- ing unions’ labour process, recruitment and amalgamations policies will be charted and the ef fect of these historical strategies on modern policy in the three areas will be analysed. What af fect the unions’ structures and political process had upon contemporary policy makers’ values and views will also be considered. The reasons why the Australian unions polices either varied from, or were similar to, those of the British print unions, will be investigated, as will internal variations across the States and Territories of Australia. These latter dif ferences are particularly important as they af fected the creation of the national unions and their subsequent policies. Unlike Britain, in the majority of Australian States, the craft and non- craft printing unions merged relatively early in their history. For this reason this chapter, unlike its predecessor, is not divided into separate craft and non-craft sub-sections. Instead the structures and political process of all the Australian printing unions are considered, followed by a charting of the development of the unions policies in the three selected areas. 86 Chapter 5 Structures and political processes In common with their British counterparts many Australian print union of ficers from craft backgrounds had a strong pride in, and knowledge of, their unions’ history. Many...

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