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PAPERS ON INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS

These three papers constitute a set. Together they describe the process that led up to the famous Accord, struck between the ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions) and the Labor government of Australia in 1983. This was a complex, multifaceted agreement which accomplished a variety of outcomes ranging from wages and welfare measures to more detailed items within industrial relations. It is these latter which are the most significant from the point of view of organizational democratization.  


In particular, we are concerned with the repealing of the Master-Servant Act which had acted as the default option for all organizational arrangements, and also as a bulwark for those who wished to argue against any changes to the conventional dominant hierarchies. The second major step forward was the freeing up of the need  to stick to the award system. Attempting to change awards to suit one particular organization which had decided to democratize had proven almost impossible as it was a long and difficult process involving educating every organization that came under the award. Until that was achieved the changes designed into the focal organization could not be legal, and were, therefore, always vulnerable to change on the whim of somebody up the hierarchy. The Accord included a break away from awards to enterprise bargaining such than a boundary could be drawn around the entity and democratization therefore legally accomplished quickly and easily. This was the first time it had been possible to guarantee the safety of democratization once it was implemented and was in itself a small revolution.


Nobody hade any idea at the time of the first Search Conference in 1973 that a ten year process would result in such outcomes. It was called to try and improve industrial relations across the country which were in a parlous state. As an example of how bad they were, it took Fred Emery and Alan Davies, the two people most actively organizing on the ground 18 months to negotiate the participants list. The conflicts were not only in capital to labour but within labour and between government and employers. 


The second Search demonstrates just how far the education process about democratization had come in the three years since the first as it became the overriding goal of the event and from there, acted as a springboard to the internal action that followed. Fred's exposition of the Australian experience with democratization was written for, and originally presented at an international meeting of the Tusiad, the peak business organization in Turkey. It provides much context and details around the many changes that were taking place. It is an invaluable summary of industrial relations in Australia over the period with possibilities for the future. 

1973

INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS SEARCH CONFERENCE

1976

WORKER PARTICIPATION AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS

1994

SOME OBSERVATIONS ON WORKPLACE REFORM

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