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Power: the Federal Government and the Union Movement

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 08:28 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 41.8 
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When discussing power and its implications, one must take into account several key things: who the proponents are, what positions they hold, and what they have to gain from exercising power.   Generally, it is obvious when power is employed, it is one group contesting the other, and an outcome is achieved by the exercise of power, usually by the group in the strongest position.   However, often, relations become distorted when institutionalised power is at play, and likewise with ‘people power’ groups.   The present relations between the Federal Government and the union movement continues to be a struggle for both parties.   By introducing Industrial reforms, the government has made a two-pronged attack on workers and the union movement. The following essay aims to demonstrate the different types of power these two groups hold, how they use it, and the likely outcomes of such a struggle. This will be established in part by outlining the various reforms to Industrial Law which affect unions and using two corresponding   case studies to ascertain how reforms and a general ideology clash have affected the function of unions and how, consequently, unions use the power they do have to compensate for this.

Since the 1980’s, the structure and role of Industrial relations has been in a state of metamorphosis.   This has been due to a number of changes in the ideology and logistics of the workforce and key shifts in institutional power. After 1975, and the panic and economic burden of the Vietnam war had subsided, business began to pressure both Coalition and Labour Governments   to improve the waning fortunes of private enterprise by a combination of economic restructuring, tax cuts and wage cuts, along with reduced spending on welfare, education and health. The union movement had been the main obstacle to achieving these goals and so had been singled out for special attention by business lobby groups.   The Fraser administration tried and failed at both the...


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