On November 14, 70 people attended the Gleebooks launch of Trade Unionism in Australia — From Flood to Ebb Tide by Queensland academic and Socialist Alternative activist Tom Bramble.
Bramble blamed the fall in union membership, density and activity over the past 30 years on the misleadership by the Communist Party of Australia. He said that they followed the ALP into compromises with employers — epitomised in the Accord politics of the 1980s — rather than relying on militant industrial action.
In order to reverse this trend — now epitomised in Labor's "Work Choices-lite" — Bramble advocated a return to militant strike action, and rank-and-file organising, to rebuild the union movement.
Sally McManus from the Australian Services Union also addressed the meeting. She pointed out that, during the anti-Work Choices campaign, peaks in union recruitment coincided with the large rallies and industrial action.
Despite this, McManus admitted that the union movement "fumbled the ball at the try line", by allowing big business to set the industrial relations agenda and ALP policy, while unions basked in the joy of Howard's defeat last November.