When I wrote Dodgy Unions I was highlighting just how parlous the situation of unions has become. Falling membership, lack of relevance but the organisations have accumulated vast war chests of cash from past members that the officials keep on dreaming up battles to fight.
The union movement continues to lose workers, but they have transformed themselves into an employment agency for political operatives.
Judith Sloan looks at the demise of unions in Australia.
If the trade union movement in Australia were a company, it would be thinking of filing for bankruptcy. In the early 1990s, its market share was 40 per cent. It is now 15 per cent.
In the private sector, only 10 per cent of workers are members of trade unions in their main jobs. In absolute terms, there are 1.6 million trade union members in their main jobs or 1.7 million in total. Note that there are 11.8 million employed people in Australia.
What are the explanations for this catastrophic decline in union membership? Is there anything the trade unions can do to arrest the decline? How is it that the influence of the trade union movement has not fallen in line with its falling membership? Read more »