Facts and figures on industrial relations

Wednesday, March 11, 1992

Facts and figures on industrial relations

Industrial Relations at Work: The Australian Workplace Industrial Relations Survey
Published by the Commonwealth Department of Industrial Relations
Australian Government Publishing Service, 1991. 366 pages. $26.95
Reviewed by Jeff Richards

This book should be on the shelves of every labour movement activist. Based on a survey of some 2500 workplaces, it is the most comprehensive work of its kind produced in Australia.

Part one covers matters such as workforce size, industry distribution, foreign ownership and control, gender composition in the workforce, part-time employment, young employees, subcontracting, outworkers, agency workers and much more. There is also information on employer associations, unions in the workplace, voluntary labour turnover, dismissals, absenteeism and types of industrial action.

Part two surveys management and union structures. It gives important information on workplace decision making, the influence of employer organisations and specialist managers.

It provides detailed analysis of workplace unionism: numbers of delegates and their background and activities, training facilities, union presence, involvement of full-time officials and the authority of delegates and union committees.

The final section is an attempt at a framework for understanding industrial relations. This is followed by 125 pages of tables and other information.

The importance of the book lies in the vast amount of information it provides clearly and concisely on a complex and diverse labour movement. Perhaps one shortcoming is its lack of a historical perspective (a failure to show trends over time), but it nevertheless provides a revealing glimpse of the complexity of industrial relations and the role of managerial and labour bureaucracies.

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