Can Deregulation Save Australian Industrial Relations?: A Review of British and New Zealand Policy Experience and its Implications for Australia


Research Paper 4 1997-98

Dr Keith Abbott
Politics and Public Administration Group
27 October 1997

Major Issues Summary

Introduction

Britain

Legislation

Trade Union Membership

Collective Bargaining

Industrial Action

Wages and Conditions

New Zealand

Legislation

Trade Union Membership

Collective Bargaining

Industrial Action

Wages and Conditions

Labour Market Outcomes

Conclusion: Implications for Australia

Endnotes

Bibliography

Major Issues Summary

Flagging productivity growth and high unemployment have long been issues of major concern in Australia, inspiring numerous judgements about the nature and efficiency of the labour force, activities of trade unions and efficacy of the country's industrial relations institutions. Business and conservative political leaders have been vociferous in proclaiming traditional labour practices are inherently rigid, a product of an inordinately powerful trade union movement and the country's centralised system of industrial relations. The modern workforce, they argue, has to become more flexible if it is to secure its future employment. Trade unions need to be restructured down to the level of the firm, and wages and conditions of employment need to be established in accordance with the specific needs of individual enterprises. To the extent that these measures are aimed at exposing workers more fully to the rigour of market forces, it is argued that they will produce a more efficient and productive labour force.

Labour leaders have similarly recognised the need for changed trade union structures and decentralised bargaining practices. Slow productivity growth and high unemployment, however, have been conceived more in terms of a failure of opportunity rather than one of market failure. The remedy pursued over the past several years has seen the rationalisation of trade union structures along industry lines, establishment of a 'managed' system of decentralised wage bargaining, and the introduction of award provisions designed to improve the productivity and employment prospects of labour through the provision of more career and training opportunities.

Since the election of the Liberal/National Coalition Government in 1996 the market forces argument has clearly gained ascendancy, and is nowhere more apparent than in the rationales used to support the Workplace Relations Act 1996. The provisions of this Act, although far from satisfying many key tenets of the free market model, are no less aimed at reducing the influence of trade unions and collective bargaining in the settlement of workers' wages and conditions.

This paper draws on the policy experience of Britain and New Zealand, two countries that have enacted legislation inspired by a similar faith in the economic efficiency of untrammelled market forces. It details the key elements of labour legislation passed in these countries and the assumptions upon which they were based. It also looks at the impact such legislation has had on trade union membership, level of industrial action, collective bargaining practices, and wages and conditions. It concludes by offering some comment on how changes in these areas have affected labour market flexibility, unemployment and productivity growth in the two countries, and what implications these changes hold for labour legislation in Australia.

Drawing on the New Zealand experience, two implications for Australian policy would seem to follow:

  • where trade unions are organisationally weak at the level of the enterprise because of state support for the arbitral processes of collective bargaining, the power of trade unions will be high and the ability of employers to determine the level and scope of bargaining will be minimal; and
  • where legislative reforms amount to virtual retrenchment of state support for such processes, the power of trade unions will be substantially diminished and the prerogatives of employers to determine bargaining levels and agendas will be significantly enhanced.

Further, the implications of the British example for Australian policy seem clear:

  • where legislative reforms are aimed at controlling the behaviour of trade unions, they will be less effective when trade unions have a pre-existing organisational presence that is strong at the level of the enterprise-the converse will be the case when trade unions have a weak organisational presence; and
  • where legislative reforms seek to control the behaviour of trade unions they will more than likely serve to centralise the internal authority and control of trade unions.

Introduction

In recent years Federal and State governments throughout Australia have introduced a range of legislation aimed at reforming the country's industrial relations system. The corpus of such legislation has been primarily aimed at decentralising bargaining arrangements between employers and employees down to the level of the firm, this being seen as a means of injecting a greater degree of flexibility into the labour market. The central tenets of such legislation have clear antecedents in industrial relations legislation passed in Britain and New Zealand. The purpose of the paper is to review the literature relating to contemporary industrial relations policies in each of these countries, as well as the underlying assumptions that informed the views of policy-makers during their formulation. It then examines the expected results of such policies against their subsequent outcomes.

Four issues pertinent to the present task will command special attention, and refer to the impact of industrial relations legislation on:

  • trade union membership and methods of governance
  • patterns of bargaining
  • levels of strike activity and
  • wages and conditions.

Whilst mindful of the problems involved in making cross-country comparisons, the study concludes with comments about the findings and their implications for industrial relations legislation in Australia.

Britain

In order to understand the British experience it is first necessary to look at the historical context in which the deregulatory labour policies enacted over the 1980s and 1990s came to be a major element in the government's policy programme. For much of the present century the industrial relations system in Britain has been marked by trade unions and employers engaged in workplace negotiations over wages and conditions with little reference to the law or third party intervention. The existence and actions of trade unions were protected by statutory immunity from civil law torts. Employers were not legally obliged to recognise or negotiate with trade unions, and the state had few powers to intervene in industrial disputes short of declaring a state of emergency. Laws in relation to workers' rights were limited to setting health and safety standards and minimum pay rates in workplaces where collective bargaining was absent. In short, the system was voluntarist, with a strong emphasis on minimal government intervention into processes of collective bargaining between employers and trade unions at the level of the firm.

This system began to change during the 1960s and 1970s, when a range of statutory rights was passed in relation to dismissal notices, equal pay, redundancy compensation and unfair dismissals. Government intervention in each of these areas was partly a response to a system where unofficial strikes, inflationary wage outbreaks, restrictive work practices and damaging organised industrial action in the motor, steel, coal mining and ship-building industries were being blamed for Britain's failing economic performance. Trade union immunity from civil prosecution came in for special criticism for seemingly conferring organised labour with 'excessive' power in workplace bargaining relationships.(1) This prompted the 1971-74 Conservative Government to introduce the Industrial Relations Act in 1971 as a means of establishing a legal framework in which these relations could take place. After fierce resistance from trade unions and some important sectors of industry the Act was repealed by the 1974-79 Labour Government, and replaced in 1975 by the Employment Protection Act. This Act provided an avenue through which trade unions could force employers to recognise them as legitimate bargaining agents. It also provided a mechanism through which disputes over pay and conditions could be referred for arbitration and binding award settlements. These measures were supplemented by a corporatist style Social Contract between government and unions. This ultimately proved unsuccessful in diminishing militant trade union behaviour, which peaked over the so-called 'winter of discontent' in 1979.

State intervention into industrial relations took a further step forward with the election of the Thatcher Government. Drawing on the lessons of the previous decade the government adopted a policy approach inspired by free market ideologies. This committed the government to improving the supply side performance of the economy through tight monetary control, deregulation of financial markets, balanced budgets, the abandonment of controls over prices, incomes and capital movements, and the return of state-owned industries to private ownership and management. An important part of this agenda was the enactment of legislation to diminish the power of trade unions and to reform existing labour laws as a means of exposing the labour market more fully to the rigours of market forces.

The rationale behind the Conservative administration's legislative agenda to achieve this end can be summarised as follows. The government accepted the monetarist notion that changes in the money stock were linked to price changes. Coupled with this belief was the further view that the 'rational expectations' of workers towards rising prices led them to seek peremptory (and thus inflationary) wage settlements. Limiting the money supply to reduce inflation would thus short-circuit this propensity. It was accepted that this course of action would precipitate a rise in unemployment, but this would be temporary as employment would rise again once prices stabilised. This would occur as the labour market equalised around a point where a declining demand for labour relative to supply would lower the rate of increase in money wages, thereby stabilising prices without feeding into a permanent rise in unemployment. In short, to achieve a low inflation-high employment economy required flexible real wage outcomes.

It was on the basis of these assumptions that Conservative legislators enacted a series of measures aimed at reducing the monopoly power of trade unions over the processes of wage bargaining.(2) The key legislation to this end were as follows:

Legislation

The Employment Act 1980:

  • repealed trade union rights and arbitral awards contained in the Employment Protection Act 1975
  • provided public funds to encourage trade unions to introduce secret ballots over strikes, rule changes and the election of officials
  • introduced the right not to be unreasonably excluded or expelled from a trade union
  • made the right for compensation available to employees dismissed for non-membership of a trade union in closed shops not agreed by a secret ballot gaining a majority of 80 per cent
  • made it illegal to take industrial action to enforce closed shop arrangements
  • restricted the legal immunities of trade unions undertaking secondary industrial action to situations where employers had direct commercial ties; and
  • limited picketing to places of employment in dispute.

The Employment Act 1982:

  • removed the legal immunities of trade unions engaged in demarcation disputes
  • provided a list of specific issues upon which a dispute between workers and employers was deemed legal
  • made compensation payable by trade unions to employers possible for illegal disputes; and
  • widened the scope for an employee dismissed for non-membership of a trade union to claim compensation.

The Trade Union Act 1984:

  • required all senior trade union officials to be subject to lection every five years by a secret ballot of members
  • provided members disenfranchised during trade union ballots to seek redress through the courts
  • required trade unions to hold a secret ballot of members every ten years to maintain a political fund
  • removed legal immunities from trade unions that failed to hold a secret ballot before authorising or endorsing industrial action
  • removed legal immunities from trade unions that organised industrial action without a secret ballot being held four or more weeks before such action
  • made trade union officials and committee members libel for any illegal industrial actions, lest the authorisation or endorsement of such actions is repudiated in writing by a higher authority within the union; and
  • enabled employers, suppliers and customers affected by an illegal strike to sue for an injunction or compensation against the organising trade union.

The Employment Act 1988:

  • specified the grounds on which it was unjustifiable for a union to take disciplinary action against members; and
  • made amendments to secret balloting by requiring those relating to the election of union officers and political funds be fully postal and conducted by independent scrutineers.

The Employment Act 1990:

  • made all forms of secondary action unlawful
  • made unions liable for any official, including unpaid shop stewards, who called for illegal industrial action, lest it be repudiated immediately by senior union officers
  • limited the legal immunities of trade unions organising industrial action in support of employees dismissed for taking part in unofficial action; and
  • repealed laws regulating hours of work for the young.

The Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 amalgamated the operative sections of other Acts relating to collective labour relations.

The Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993:

  • made it possible for customers to sue trade unions for public service disruption
  • extended the list of conduct for which a union was prohibited from applying disciplinary measures
  • required individual employees give written consent every three years for the deduction of union dues through check-off arrangements; and
  • made it unlawful for increased deductions to be made without the employer notifying the worker and reminding them of their right to withdraw authorisation at any time.(3)

Having detailed these legislative reforms the following discussion looks at the four key issues outlined in the introduction as a means of determining how successful the changes have been in fulfilling their expected outcomes.

Trade Union Membership

There can be little doubt that trade unionism has been in retreat since the late 1970s. This is indicated in Table 1, which shows a steady decline in trade union density from 56.1 per cent in 1978, to 31.3 per cent in 1995. How much of this decline can be attributed to the legislative changes just noted is difficult to say, but any impact must be weighed against a wide range of non-legislative influences. Thus, it is generally recognised that the persistence of mass unemployment in the 1980s greatly reduced the power of trade unions to enforce wage demands and weakened the willingness of workers to go on strike. Both these conditions lessened the attraction of trade union membership.(4) It is also widely accepted that declining numbers of workers employed in manufacturing, coal mining, stevedoring, ship-building, steel production and automobile manufacturing, traditional strongholds of trade union recruitment, have been a major factor contributing to the decline in trade union membership. Other factors have also been noted in the inability of trade unions to recruit members in new high-tech service industries, reduction of the public sector as a source of employment, casualisation of employment, corporate policies relating to contracting out, human resource management practices, and the fall in inflation and associated reduction in wage differentials between union and non-union workers.(5)

Table 1 Trade Union Density1 in Britain, 1975-95 (selected years)

Year

1975

1978

1981

1984

1987

1990

1993

1995

Density

52.0

56.1

54.4

49.8

46.3

38.0

31.8

27.0

1 The denominator for calculating density excludes the self-employed, members of the armed forces and the registered unemployed.

Source: J. Waddington, 'Trade Union Membership in Britain, 1980-1987', British Journal of Industrial Relations, 1992; Office of National Statistics, Social Trends 27, 1997 edition, The Stationary Office, London, 1997, pp 82-3.

In spite of these important influences it nonetheless seems difficult to believe that the legislative reforms enacted by the Conservative administration did not have some impact on the propensity of workers not to join unions. Legislation abolishing closed shops, banning secondary picketing and demarcation disputes, limiting check-off arrangements and removing legal immunities, all weakened the power of trade unions in bargaining relations with employers. To the extent that it did, it no doubt reduced the attractiveness of trade unions to both existing and potential members. Indeed, one study has estimated that the legislative reforms effectively reduced union density by 1 to 1.7 percentage points per year between 1980 and 1986, which cumulatively amounts to almost the entire decline in trade union density over the period.(6) Beyond the reforms, but lending them considerable substance, the government's desire to set an anti-union example by attacking public sector conditions of employment must also be considered as having had a powerful psychological impact in discouraging potential recruits. The same can also be said of the government's determined legal resistance to strikes in nationalised industries, and in particular those aimed at overturning the government's 1984 push to privatise the coal industry.(7)

Collective Bargaining

Collective bargaining has long dominated the determination of wages and employment conditions for the vast majority of British workers. The broad statistics in this area suggest that this tradition has come under increasing attack. Between 1984 and 1990, for instance, the number of workers covered by agreements of this type fell from 71 per cent to 54 per cent.(8) The proportion of workplaces that recognise trade unions has also fallen, from 66 per cent in 1984 to 48 per cent in 1994.(9) There has also been a substantial shift in the level at which collective bargaining takes place. Between 1984 and 1990, for example, national agreements covering private sector workplaces (25 or more employees) fell from 40.6 per cent of the workforce to 27.1 per cent.(10) There has been a similar move from multi union-employer agreements to single union-employer agreements.(11) In line with these trends there has also been a growing propensity, as Gosper and Palmer put it:

to insulate bargaining from outside forces, with negotiation agendas over pay and conditions being related more to inside forces, such as productivity and profitability, rather than external factors such as cost of living and comparability.(12)

It is once again difficult to say precisely what part the government's legislative changes have played in facilitating these events. It seemed hardly likely that the banning of closed shop arrangements and secondary picketing, restrictions placed on various forms of industrial action, and the right of employers to not recognise trade unions have not reduced by some degree the leverage trade unions can bring to bear on collective bargaining negotiations. To the extent that this is the case, it has no doubt provided employers with far more potential to set bargaining agendas, choose what unions, if any, to deal with, and decide what level bargaining should take place. Relatively few employers, it seems, have so far relied on legal mechanisms contained within the various Acts to launch direct attacks on trade unions as a means of altering collective bargaining arrangements.(13)

Moreover, it appears that non-legislative influences may have had a far more important influence on the pattern of collective bargaining. Increasing competition in product markets, for instance, has been argued as the driving force behind the decentralisation of collective bargaining, with companies being compelled to link their pay systems more closely to the performance of plant-level operations. This has made frameworks of national collective bargaining redundant. The privatisation of public sector companies has also been identified as having played a critical role. In this instance the cause is seen to stem from large publicly owned companies being dissolved into smaller privately owned entities.(14) To this it can be added that the decline in the proportion of workplaces recognising trade unions and the growth of single employer-union agreements have been attributed, in part, to the legislative reforms,(15) but have also been seen as a direct consequence of changes in the structure of employment and the general decline in trade union membership.(16) Finally, the change in focus of collective bargaining agendas, from issues of cost of living and wage comparability, to issues of productivity and profitability, is a phenomenon common to almost all western countries, which suggests that international business and economic cyclical influences may have been more important than domestic policy influences.

Industrial Action

The level of industrial disputes has long been an issue of concern. From the figures set out in Table 2 it is clear that the number of strikes, workers involved in strikes and working days lost through strikes have fallen dramatically over the period of Conservative administration. For instance, the annual average number of disputes during the decade of the 1970s was 2 631, the number of workers involved was 1.6 million, and number of days lost was 12.9 million. The corresponding annual averages over the decade of the 1980s were 1 129 disputes, 1 million workers and 7.2 million days lost.(17) In absolute terms the number of stoppages has declined from a peak of 2 125 stoppages and 29.4 million working days lost in 1979, to just 251 stoppages and 415 000 working days lost in 1995.(18)

Table 2 British Strike Statistics, 1970-96

Table 2 British Strike Statistics, 1970-96

Year

Stoppages

Workers Involved

('000)

Working Days Lost

('000)

annual averages

1970-1979

2 631

1 621

12 900

1980-1989

1 129

1 040

7 200

1980-1995

832

n.a.

4 819

absolute figures

1979

2 080

4 608

29 474

1981

1 338

1 513

4 266

1983

1 364

574

3 754

1985

903

791

6 402

1987

1 016

887

3 546

1989

701

727

4 128

1991

369

176

761

1993

211

385

649

1995

251

n.a.

415

 

Note: Statistics of stoppages caused by labour disputes in Britain relate to disputes connected with terms and conditions of employment. Small stoppages involving fewer than ten workers or lasting less than one day are excluded unless the aggregate number of working days lost in the dispute exceeds 100. Workers involved and working days lost relate to persons both directly and indirectly involved at the establishments where the disputes occurred. People laid off and working days lost at establishments not in dispute are excluded.

Source: K. Legge, Human Resource Management, Macmillan Business, London, 1995, p 256; Office of National Statistics, Social Trends 27, 1997, The Stationary Office, London, 1997, p 82

Again, the decline in industrial unrest in Britain can only notionally be related to the legislative reforms. Legal changes making it difficult to strike were no doubt a contributing factor, but the evidence that they were the major cause is far from conclusive. Kelly and Kelly, for instance, have argued that the decline in strike activity over the period of the Conservative administration was largely the result of new management techniques that actively sought to promote more cooperative employee relations.(19) Brown and Wadhwani have also suggested that changes in the legal environment do not explain why most of the reduction occurred in the private sector, an odd outcome given that the government was hardly reticent about using anti-strike legislation to counter industrial action taken by unions in the public sector. These authors go on to conclude that the decline in the private sector was more the result of economic and institutional factors than the legislative measures; that historically high levels of unemployment, along with the trend decline in price inflation and rise in real wages throughout the period simply tempered the willingness and ability of workers to take industrial action; and that much of the decline in private sector strike activity can be attributed to shifts in collective bargaining to the shop-floor, which encouraged employers to introduce more sophisticated pay systems and personnel practices. By contrast, strikes in the public sector remained high because the government sought to set an example by restricting wage rises and applying macho-management techniques to force through radical changes in nationalised industries as a prelude to their privatisation.(20)

Wages and Conditions

Wages and conditions of employment are one of the least regulated areas of British industrial relations. Labour laws have long protected workers against discrimination on the basis of sex and race, as well as to support workplace health and safety, but apart from these basic rights there have been few restrictions placed on the settlement of wages, conditions, working time, and the hiring and firing of labour. To the extent that the legislative changes have diminished the power trade unions are capable of bringing to bear on collective bargaining negotiations, it might reasonably be assumed that the prerogatives of employers to make decisions in these areas have been increased. Yet the evidence as to how these changes have impacted on the wages and conditions of workers is unclear. Despite the growing restriction placed on the activities of trade unions they have nonetheless remained relatively successful in negotiating attractive outcomes. This is evidenced by the way aggregate annual wage increases negotiated with employers through collective bargaining processes averaged a healthy 7.5 per cent throughout the 1980s,(21) and a still credible 3.8 per cent over the low inflation years between 1991 and 1995.(22)

These increases, however, have been skewed in that a sharp widening in wage differentials has emerged across different skill classifications. On the one hand, decentralised bargaining processes appear to have translated into a continued improvement in wages for workers employed in enterprises where unions have a stronghold. It has also translated into an improvement for professional workers whose skills are in short supply, as well as for workers employed in large companies where performance-related pay systems are applied.(23) On the other hand, wages of vast numbers of workers not so employed have declined in real terms. This is partially indicated by the proportion of people in occupations with incomes below half the average annual wage, which increased from 8 per cent in 1982 to just over 20 per cent in 1992.(24) It is more amply demonstrated by the way issues on bargaining agendas have become more narrowly defined or determined unilaterally by employers. In this regard Legge provides a pertinent observation on the issue of redundancies:

Unions have been unable to mobilise effective resistance to plant closure and redundancies, and have often been forced to watch employees opt for voluntary redundancy packages, in the belief that this will give them first opportunity to secure the remaining jobs in the local labour market, prior to a flood of competitors following an anticipated wave of future compulsory redundancies and possible plant closure.(25)

Similar arguments have been raised in relation to the introduction of new technology and investment. Marginson et al. and Legge, for instance, have found an increasing absence of negotiation and consultation over these issues between managers and employees.(26) There is also evidence to suggest that the implementation of strategies to increase the functional and numerical flexibility of employees has seen work for most employees become more fractionalised and intensified.(27) This is supported by the fact that the average number of hours worked per week has steadily increased since the early 1980s, along with the percentage of the workforce holding casualised, contract, short-term and part-time employment.(28) More generally, it has been argued that the legislative reforms have injected more flexibility into the settlement of wages and conditions, which was a principal expectation of when the reforms were initiated, but that this has been at the expense of the starting wage of potential employees and the job security of those in employment.(29)

New Zealand

In dealing with the New Zealand experience it must be stated at the outset that there are many elements common to the British experience. Like Britain, New Zealand has seen trade union membership and levels of industrial disputation fall. It has also seen a decentralisation of collective bargaining processes and changes in the type of outcomes these processes produce. To a large degree many similar non-legislative influences have contributed to these developments. There is no need to elaborate on these influences again, except to say that it is similarly acknowledged by most New Zealand studies that the combination of growing fiscal constraints, uncertain economic growth, perpetually high inflation and unemployment rates, and changes in the structure and sources of employment since the early 1980s, have all contributed to the diminution of trade union power and membership. This development, in turn, is also widely acknowledged as having provided New Zealand employers with increasing scope to set bargaining agendas, control bargaining outcomes and determine at what level with the organisation negotiations with workers and their representative will take place.(30) One difference worth noting refers to the New Zealand system of industrial relations having no history of voluntarism of the type found in Britain. It has instead had a significant level of state intervention, with labour courts empowered to arbitrate industrial disputes, establish national awards and grant monopoly representation to trade unions over different categories of workers. (Indeed, it may be of interest to readers to note that the Australian 'model' of conciliation and arbitration is in fact a New Zealand invention).

The election of the Labour Government in 1984 marked the beginning of efforts to change the system that had prevailed for much of the century. Despite a long adherence to social democratic ideals it set about implementing a programme of radical legislative reform to encourage market liberalisation, free trade, business enterprise, monetary control, fiscal restraint, and deregulated labour markets.(31) The ideas that informed the policy thinking behind this programme had a number of sources-none more influential than the Department of the Treasury. Strongly influenced by Chicago-school economics, the assumptions and expectations underpinning the policy advice on industrial relations from this quarter took the following form.

To improve the flexibility and efficiency of the labour market it was argued that it must be exposed to some degree of risk, with policies directed towards allowing individual self-interest full rein to operate for the commonweal. To this end it was assumed that employees should have the means to respond flexibly to changes in the supply and demand conditions for labour, and that if movement in wage rates was unable to move in line with these conditions then levels of employment would. In an expanding economy, however, it was argued that full employment was an unattainable and undesirable goal. It was unattainable because a certain amount of unemployment would always exist as workers temporarily left the labour market to train for or relocate to new jobs. Others would be made redundant or become unemployed intentionally, but the duration would be lowest for all concerned if economic growth was sustained and labour markets were sufficiently flexible to adjust. Full employment was considered undesirable as it would replicate the labour scarcities and inefficiencies of trade union monopolies and state regulations commonly found in a risk-averse society.(32) So conceived, the solution for 'inordinate' unemployment required the removal of impediments to the free operation of the labour market, which were identified in the national award system, occupational-based bargaining, centralised arbitration, government wage-fixing and compulsory union membership. To facilitate this process it was argued that union powers had to be curtailed. Unions had to be made more responsive to their memberships, their monopolies over the supply of labour had to be broken up, their bargaining claims over wages had to be made more responsive to the employment needs of the nation, and their activities and modes of organisation had to be made more enterprise-based.(33)

Legislation

It was in light of this assessment that the Labour Government (1984-90) passed a series of bills that withdrew compulsory arbitration, forced unions to consolidate to secure recognition, encouraged collective bargaining to move from the industry level to the enterprise level (Labour Relations Act 1987), and removed special workplace privileges for public sector employees (State Sector Act 1988). These measures went some way towards freeing up New Zealand's labour market, although the labour court retained the power to grant monopoly coverage to unions, awards continued to set wages and conditions for the vast majority of employees, compulsory unionism remained in place, and few workplaces satisfied the statutory requirements to engage in bargaining at the enterprise level.

All this changed with the election of the National Government (1990-present) and its enactment of the Employment Contracts Act 1991 (the 1991 Act). This Act:

  • banned closed shops
  • abolished the monopoly coverage of workers by individual trade unions
  • over-turned the tax-exemption privileges of trade unions
  • banned secondary action and strikes that were not in connection with negotiations for a collective contract
  • replaced the national system of award coverage with individual and enterprise employment contracts
  • introduced measures that allowed for the non-disclosure of contracts of employment between individual employers and individual workers
  • made it legally possible for employers to avoid negotiating collective contracts with trade unions
  • required trade unions secure explicit authorisation from members to negotiate on their behalf; and
  • prevented the courts from applying common law remedies to unfair or unconscionable bargains.(34)

Trade Union Membership

There can be little doubt that this Act had a substantial impact on trade union membership. As Table 3 indicates, in the year prior to it becoming operable, 35.4 per cent of the workforce were union members. By late 1995, this number had fallen to just 21.7 per cent.(35) The extent of this decline in such a short space of time, and coinciding with the passing of the 1991 Act, suggests a strong link between the two. Hector et al. have identified a number of legislative-based reasons for this trend. They argue that some workers who had always been disenchanted with union membership took the opportunity to leave under the Act's 'freedom of association' provision. Others took advantage of provisions that disbanded the award based bargaining structure to negotiate individual employment contracts. Still others, it is suggested, disillusioned with the lack of collectivism of the union movement, responded to the opportunity provided under the terms of the Act to negotiate individual employment contracts.(36)

Table 3 Trade Union Density in New Zealand: 1985-95 (selected years)

Year

1985

1987

1989

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

Density

43.5

44.7

41.5

35.4

28.8

26.8

23.4

21.7

Source: Statistics New Zealand, New Zealand Official Yearbook, 1996, cat. no. 01.001, Statistics New Zealand, Wellington, 1996, p 304.

Grills has added to these reasons by noting the substantial strain placed on trade union finances by the Act's requirement that unions gain written authorisation from each workplace before being allowed to represent members. The abolition of the tax-exempt status had a similar impact by forcing trade unions to pay taxes, for the first time, on income derived from membership fees and services provided. These changed circumstances forced many trade unions to either amalgamate, close, rationalise their operations, or cut back on services and levels of representation. Provisions that overturned the monopoly representation of trade unions also compelled many to compete with one another and outside consultants for the right to bargain on behalf of workers. The combination of these developments, it is argued, saw many workers simply drift away because they were left unattended by unions too busy shoring up their support in larger workplaces, or because trade union representation was less than impressive.(37) Henning has furthermore speculated that part of the explanation for the decline in membership may be related to a widespread misunderstanding that the Act somehow banned trade unions.(38) Overall, however, it appears that the most important cause of the downturn has been the reluctance of employees to nominate an agent to bargain on their behalf.(39)

Whatever the cause, the majority of studies have attributed a substantial part of the recent decline in trade union membership, either directly or indirectly, to various provisions contained in the Employment Contracts Act. Some studies, it must be noted, have hedged against this conclusion by suggesting the fall was well underway in the period leading up to the Act, either as a result of the preceding economic recession and associated high levels of unemployment,(40) or factors common to most western countries in form of changes in the structure industry and sources of employment.(41) Nonetheless, the extent of the decline after 1991 bears little resemblance to the falls in trade union membership experienced in other western countries.

Collective Bargaining

Collective bargaining is another area that has undergone significant change in a relatively short period of time. In the year prior to the 1991 Act around 721 000 New Zealand workers were covered by various awards and collective bargaining agreements. By early 1993, Harbridge and Honeybone estimate that this number had fallen to somewhere between  340 000 and 370 000, or around 40 to 50 per cent.(42) Most of this decline they attribute to the collapse of multi-employer bargaining. Also, whereas a majority of workers were covered by contracts of this type in the decade preceding the Act, this number fell to just 17 per cent by 1994.(43) This shift in the level of bargaining can be traced directly to the provision that requires trade unions to secure written authority from members to negotiate on their behalf. Under the terms of the provision, workers can represent themselves or choose an agent to act on their behalf. Whilst the vast majority of workers (85 per cent) have opted to grant this authority to trade unions,(44) the provision has nonetheless undermined the ability of trade unions to conduct multi-employer negotiations. This is largely because the logistics involved in gaining written authority from members employed in a number of enterprises have proven to be both financially and administratively restrictive, and particularly so at a time when the membership base was in a state of rapid decline. To this it can be added that multi-employer bargaining has been made difficult because the Act allows employers to ban unions from the workplace. Legal restrictions on strike action perpetrated against more than one employer have had a similar effect.

The shift to enterprise bargaining has been so comprehensive and occurred in such a short period of time that there can be little doubt that the 1991 Act provided the catalyst. Non-legislative developments of the type that facilitated the decentralisation of collective bargaining in Britain played a part, but only in so far as the Act's provisions exposed the pre-existing bargaining framework more directly to their influences.

Industrial Action

Evidence of the direct effect of the 1991 Act on the level of industrial disputes is mixed. On the one hand, it has been suggested that the Act played a major role in reducing the number of stoppages from a high of 137 recorded in 1990, to a low of just 58 in 1993. On this line of argument the legal limitations placed on industrial action, abolition of trade union monopoly rights and the onus placed on trade unions to gain written consent from members are all measures that have undermined the ability of unions to organise and conduct strikes. The measures have furthermore undermined the sense of unity amongst rank-and-file members and thereby diminished their willingness to undertake industrial action.(45) Another line of argument attributes the fall in strike activity to the 1991 Act by suggesting that, in reducing the level of trade union intervention in the workplace, it allowed for a greater harmony interest to emerge between workers and managers.

Table 4 New Zealand Strike Statistics, 1981-94 (selected years)

Year

Stoppages

Workers Involved

Working Days Lost

1981

291

135 000

388 086

1986

215

100 633

1 329 054

1990

137

n.a.

n.a.

1991

71

51 962

99 032

1992

54

26 803

113 742

1993

58

21 303

23 770

1994

69

16 042

38 262

Note: Published statistics relate to complete strikes and complete lock-outs which involve the equivalent of 10 or more working days lost, and to all partial strikes such as an organised 'go-slow', refusal to work overtime or other methods of passive resistance. Statistics regarding the number of workers involved in work stoppages include workers who, while not participating in a stoppage directly, are suspended because of the unavailability or normal work. Instances where several stoppages occur over the same issue are treated as one stoppage.

Source: Statistics New Zealand, New Zealand Official Year Book, 1996, cat. no. 01.001, Statistics New Zealand, Wellington, 1996, p 309; J. Henning, 'The Employment Contracts Act and Work Stoppages', New Zealand Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 20, 1995, p 86.

The alternative to these perspectives holds the Act to have merely driven industrial conflict underground. In support of this line of argument it has been noted that lock-outs have increased dramatically since the Act came into operation, as has the number of inquiries and complaints to the Labour Inspectorate(46) and the Employment Tribunal.(47) Still another perspective holds the post-1992 decline in industrial action to be unremarkable, as data prior to this date shows a trend decline in strike activity dating back to the late 1970s.(48) It is interesting to note that since 1993 there has been a slight increase in the number of strikes, from 58 in 1993 to 69 in 1994, suggesting that the dramatic decline between 1990 and 1993 may have had more to do with the recession during this period than to any legislative action.

Wages and Conditions

The 1991 Act has clearly put pressure on wages and conditions. Real wage growth has declined in each year since the Act was passed. Kelsey argues this has been the result of re-negotiated employment contracts that have typically involved employer offers of small wage increases and lump-sum payments to workers in return for significant cuts in penalty rates and special allowances.(49) The 1991 Act undoubtedly opened the way for companies to offer contracts of this type, and to the extent that they moved quickly to exploit this new opportunity it clearly contributed to a fall in average weekly earnings by almost $15 over the first six months.(50) Since this time, real wages have continued to fall and this has been particularly severe for low income groups,(51) women and public sector employees.(52) In the private sector the move towards decentralised collective bargaining and individual contracts has produced a wide variation in wage settlements, with some employees experiencing substantial decreases in basic rates and others gaining large increases.(53) Wage flexibility has thus been a major outcome of the 1991 Act, which has been at the expense of traditional relativities and notions of comparative wage justice.

Table 5 Wages to Prices: 1989-95 (annual percentage change)

 

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

Wages

average weekly earnings

6.4

5.9

4.3

3.0

0.9

2.2

2.8

Wages per full-time employee

Private sector

3.8

4.2

2.4

1.2

1.2

1.2

1.5

Public sector

4.2

4.4

2.8

0.4

0.4

0.6

1.3

Consumer prices

5.7

6.1

2.6

1.0

1.3

1.8

3.8

Source: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), OECD Economic Survey: New Zealand, OECD, Paris, 1994, Table 3; OECD, OECD Economic Survey: New Zealand, OECD, Paris, 1996, Table 3.

In so far as non-wage conditions of employment are concerned, Hince and Harbridge have noted that there has been a trend in both collective and individual contracts that extends the 'ordinary' hours of work beyond the traditional forty per week and eight hours per day, as well as a trend to extend the 'ordinary' working week from six days (Monday to Saturday) to seven (Monday to Sunday)-by 'ordinary' it is meant those hours that need to be worked before penalty rates of pay are applied. As of 1995, 34 per cent of New Zealand employees were covered by contracts that provided for no penalty rates across the entire week, whilst 43 per cent of employees were covered by contracts which required them to work the full 40 hours before attracting a premium rate of pay.(54) More generally, and on the basis of these changes, it could be said that the legislative reforms have injected more flexibility into the settlement of wages and conditions, thus fulfilling one of their principle expectations.

Labour Market Outcomes

Before detailing what Australian legislators might learn from the British and New Zealand experiences it is useful to conclude this part of the review by looking at the labour market outcomes achieved in each country. In so doing it could be said that, in each case, two specific rationales commanded centre stage in political arguments used to justify the enactment of new labour legislation. The first asserted that rapidly changing economic conditions required a flexible labour market, with the primary means of achieving this being the implementation of policies to move bargaining processes over wages and conditions closer to the shop floor. The second asserted that any move towards a flexible labour market via this avenue would lower the level of unemployment and raise the productivity performance of the national economy.

The evidence suggests that the labour markets in both countries have become more flexible. In both countries the ability of firms to vary the amount of labour they use by changing the number of people employed has increased. This is suggested by the rapid recorded increases in the level of part-time, casual and temporary forms of employment, as well as in the growing incidence of self-employment since the legislation reviewed have been put in place. It is also indicated in the increased ability of employers to vary the amount of labour used through changes in the number of hours worked and the range of tasks employees are expected to perform.(55) There has also been a substantial reduction in constraints placed on the establishment of work contracts and on the ability of managers to dismiss employees.(56) The statistical evidence furthermore suggests that wage flexibility in both countries has grown with the diminished importance of collective bargaining.(57)

The evidence relating to the macroeconomic indicators of unemployment and productivity is more mixed. In this respect the argument is that improvements in labour market flexibility should make wage settlements more sensitive to unemployment, with flexible wage settlements having a longer term impact on the latter's reduction. In Britain's case the statistics show that real earning increased in every year from 1979 to 1993, suggesting that unemployment was not much of a restraining influence on real earnings growth in a labour market that was clearly becoming more flexible.(58) If downward flexibility has not distinguished the pattern of aggregate wages growth in the country, it has nonetheless been sufficiently moderate, at least in recent years, to encourage job creation, with unemployment moving from around 11 per cent during the mid-1980s to just under 8 per cent by February 1996.(59)

By contrast, substantial improvement in relative wage flexibility in New Zealand has seen the rate of earnings growth fall sharply since 1992. This development was more marked over the recession at the time, and was almost certainly a direct response to the high level of unemployment it precipitated. This reduction in wages growth undoubtedly filtered into a significant reduction in unemployment, which fell from 10.3 per cent in 1991 to just 6.3 per cent in 1995. Against this reckoning it needs to be noted that a sizeable portion of the employment growth recorded over the period might be attributed to cyclical factors. In any case, unemployment is still higher than it was in the years leading up to the mid-1980s, whilst productivity increases have averaged just 1.5 per cent per annum-raising questions as to how effectively the country's increasingly flexible labour force is being managed.(60)

It also needs to be noted that the role the reviewed legislative changes has played in these developments is almost impossible to estimate precisely using standard econometric techniques. The most that can be said is that much of the evidence presented in this paper suggests that government policy has certainly been a significant factor in introducing a greater measure of flexibility into the labour markets of both Britain and New Zealand. That said, other factors must also be considered as contributing to this outcome. More competitive product markets, both nationally and globally, for example, have undoubtedly sharpened the incentives for firms to seek greater flexibility in the management of employees. There have also been significant changes in the type and structure of employment, as well as rapid technological and communications developments that have created pressures for the introduction of new working arrangements.

Conclusion: Implications for Australia

From the above assessment it is clear there are many influences beyond the scope of public policy that have contributed in recent years to the decline in trade union membership and levels of strike action, as well as to the decentralisation of workplace bargaining processes and type outcomes these processes produce. It is equally clear that industrial relations legislation can have an impact on how these developments unfold. To elaborate on what can be learned from British and New Zealand experience it is first useful to contrast the differences in the content and impact of their labour laws. The first difference is that Britain's legislative changes were primarily directed towards undermining the power of trade unions by limiting the legal scope of industrial action and making them more accountable to their memberships. New Zealand legislation similarly limited the legal scope of industrial action, but was principally aimed at dismantling the institutional mechanisms that supported centralised processes of collective bargaining. The second difference is that the British reforms were enacted over a substantial time frame, unlike the New Zealand reforms, the most significant of which were contained in a single Act. The third difference is that the legislative reforms passed in New Zealand had a far more pervasive impact in changing the existing industrial relations system than the reforms passed in Britain-this is so even when non-legislative influences are taken into account. The final difference is that the British reforms served to increase the level of state intervention in the processes of industrial relations, whereas the New Zealand reforms amounted to a virtual retreat of state involvement in this area.

What these differences lend to our understanding of current industrial relations policy in Australia is complicated by the fact that provisions contained in the Workplace Relations Act 1996 do not limit the actions and organisation of trade unions in the same manner as British legislation. Nor do they remove the institutional supports for collective bargaining in the same manner as legislation passed in New Zealand. Unions in Australia are still not legally required to hold secret ballots in the election of officials or prior to undertaking strike action. Rights of entry are still guaranteed, industrial action remains, if not technically then certainly in practice, largely exempt from common law action, and the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) continues to have the power to arbitrate disputes, ratify industry-wide and occupational awards, and vet enterprise agreements.(61) In short, the Australian changes, although marking a significant change in policy direction, do not go as far as the reforms passed in either Britain and New Zealand. This is not to say amendments in the future will not do so, and it is perhaps in the context of this possibility that the following comments are best regarded.

Insights can be gained by offering some reasons to account for the differences between the New Zealand and British legislative efforts. Thus, it is notable that the New Zealand system of industrial relations has no history of voluntarism of the type found in Britain. Prior to the passing of the Employment Contracts Act 1992 the state played a major role in the processes of industrial relations through a comprehensive series of labour laws and legislative support for labour courts and tribunals. Disputes and awards were typically settled at the national level by the leaders of trade unions and coalitions of employers. The power of reasoned argument in submissions put before labour courts and tribunals was the predominant method trade unions used to win industrial campaigns. And as trade unions did not rely solely on putting industrial pressure directly on individual employers, they had an underdeveloped organisational presence at the level of the firm. The 1992 Act changed this by limiting the scope of labour laws and substantially reducing the power of labour courts and tribunals. These actions effectively exposed the industrial relations system, for the first time, to a wider range of business and economic influences than had traditionally been the case. Because trade unions were organisationally weak in the workplace this exposure made it difficult for them to respond to the Act. Not only were they unable to galvanise support amongst the membership to resist the financial and functional impositions imposed by the Act, they were unable to organise against employers seeking to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the Act to conclude enterprise and individual employment contracts. These failings made it difficult for existing members to see the relevance of trade unions and consequently inspired them in large numbers to discontinue their membership.

In so far as this is a fair depiction of the New Zealand experience, two implications for Australian policy would seem to follow:

  • where trade unions are organisationally weak at the level of the enterprise because of state support for the arbitral processes of collective bargaining, the power of trade unions will be high and the ability of employers to determine the level and scope of bargaining will be minimal; and
  • where legislative reforms amount to virtual retrenchment of state support for such processes, the power of trade unions will be substantially diminished and the prerogatives of employers to determine bargaining levels and agendas will be significantly enhanced.

The British experience offers an alternative model in that the legislative reforms appear to have had a far less pervasive impact along both these dimensions. One reason for this, it could be argued, stems from the way the legislative changes were not aimed at overturning labour laws or abolishing labour tribunals, but were directed towards changing the behaviour of trade unions. This is an important distinction. The British system of industrial relations prior to the changes, it will be recalled, was marked by a high degree of voluntarism and a low level of state intervention into its structures and processes. Because of this low level of state intervention the authority structure and organisation of British trade unions has long been decentralised. Industrial campaigns were not typically organised by trade union leaders and conducted with reference to labour courts, as was historically the case in New Zealand, but via industrial action organised for the most part by shop stewards at the level of the enterprise. Trade unions consequently had a positive interest in maintaining a high organisational presence at the level of the firm. To the extent that they appear to have been better organised at this level than their New Zealand counterparts, the legislative changes enacted in Britain, despite being directed almost exclusively at controlling the activity and governance of trade unions, had a far less influential impact on their membership and ability to influence collective bargaining outcomes.

Moreover, the many legislative changes in the UK requiring trade unions to prove their democratic credentials only served to improve their organisational capacity. To take one example, secret ballots to elect officials and determine industrial action were imposed as a legal requirement on the assumption that trade unions were led by officials who were out of touch with their memberships. It was argued that workers were not prone to take industrial action unless intimidated or dragooned into doing so by trade union leaders, that secret ballots would temper the actions of leaders of militant trade unions and help to bypass the militant influence of radical activists inside conservative trade unions.(62) The unexpected outcome of this legal requirement was that pre-strike ballots almost always favoured the position taken by unions because the rank-and-file feared legal sanctions being brought to bear for illegal stoppages.(63) This fear only served to strengthen the reliance of members on trade union leaders, as well as increased the legitimacy of demands that such leaders presented during negotiations with employers. Secret ballots to elect union officers had a similar effect, in that they invariably confirmed the incumbents and increased their credibility in the eyes of the membership.(64) In short, the increased level of state intervention represented in changes of this type only served to centralise the authority of trade unions and strengthen their organisational capacity at the level of the firm.

Again, the implications of this example for Australian policy seem clear:

  • where legislative reforms are aimed at controlling the behaviour of trade unions, they will be less effective when trade unions have a pre-existing organisational presence that is strong at the level of the enterprise-the converse will be the case when trade unions have a weak organisational presence; and
  • where legislative reforms seek to control the behaviour of trade unions they will more than likely serve to centralise the internal authority and control of trade unions.

If the content of Australian labour legislation has not slavishly followed its overseas counterparts, the similarity of its assumptions and expectations are no less apparent. The Workplace Relations Act 1996 is the latest in a series of policy measures dating back a decade or more which have sought to implement enterprise bargaining as the principal means for determining the wages and conditions of Australian workers. Unlike previous measures, however, it marks a significant shift in philosophical direction by espousing the principles of 'freedom of contract' and 'freedom of association', both of which are currently being used to justify new industrial relations policy aimed at reducing the extent of third party intervention into workplace bargaining relations. It is in this broader philosophical sense that the Act has much in common with the British and New Zealand legislative reforms reviewed above, and is what lends coherence and plausibility to the idea that deregulated labour markets are economically efficient and morally sound.

Perhaps the most important lesson to be learnt is that one should question the merits of this idea. The outcomes of industrial relations policies are rarely direct and seem contingent on prevailing economic, social, political and historical conditions at the time. In light of these factors, more generally, one might question the free market axioms upon which policies of this type rest. If free labour markets are assumed to produce more efficient economic outcomes and government intervention is taken as only frustrating these outcomes, then what markets give is what people actually want and the economy needs. However, what people want and what the economy needs is far more complex than some economists would have us believe, and particularly so, in view of the above assessment, when issues of industrial relations are concerned. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the fact that the flexibility and (perhaps more ambiguously) the productivity of labour has been improved in the two countries reviewed, yet the wages and conditions of their workforces, in the main, have not paralleled this improvement. The current industrial relations legislation in Australia, with its emphasis on the ability of companies to pay and on decentralising bargaining frameworks, in common with British and New Zealand legislation, is assuming that high profits built in the back of labour flexibility will lead to higher wages, that the most successful companies producing the goods or services that people value will attract the best labour, and that flexible wage outcomes will 'price people into jobs' and thereby reduce unemployment. As the above evidence suggests, these outcomes are far from certain.

Endnotes

  1. Department of Employment and Productivity, In Place of Strife, HMSO, London, 1967.

  2. G. Maynard, The Economy Under Mrs Thatcher, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1988, p. 42.

  3. J. Goodman and J. Earnshaw, 'New Industrial Rights and Wrongs: The Changed Framework of British Employment Law', New Zealand Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 19, no. 3, December 1994, pp. 303-13.

  4. K. Legge, Human Resource Management: Rhetorics and Realities, Macmillan Business, Houndsmill, 1995, pp. 258-9.

  5. Carruth and R. Disney, 'Where Have Two Million Trade Union Members Gone?', Economica, 1988; H. Gospel and P. Palmer, British Industrial Relations, Routledge, London, 1993, p. 143; D. Metcalf, 'British Trade Unions: Dissolution or Resurgence?', Oxford Review of Economic Policy, vol. 7, no. 1, 1991, pp. 18-32.

  6. R. Freeman and J. Pelletier, 'The Impact of Industrial Relations Legislation on British Trade Union Density', British Journal of Industrial Relations, vol.28, no. 1, 1990, pp. 141-64.

  7. Maynard, op. cit., p. 89.

  8. Legge, op. cit., p. 254.

  9. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), OECD Economic Surveys: United Kingdom 1996, OECD, Paris, 1996, p. 89.

  10. European Industrial Relations Review (EIRR), 'Government Policies and Flexibility', European Industrial Relations Review, no. 256, May 1995, p. 19.

  11. N. Millward, The New Industrial Relations, Policy Studies Institute, London, 1994, p. 121.

  12. Gosper and Palmer, op. cit., p. 217.

  13. D. Guest, 'Human Resource Management: Its Implications for Industrial Relations and Trade Unions', in J. Story (ed.), New Perspectives on Human Resource Management, Routledge, London, 1989; J E. Kelly and C. Kelly, 'Them and Us: Social Psychology and the New Industrial Relations', British Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 29, no. 1, 1991, pp. 25-48.

  14. EIRR, op. cit., p. 12.

  15. Legge, op. cit., pp. 261-4.

  16. Millward, op. cit., chapter six.

  17. Legge, op. cit., p. 256.

  18. Office of National Statistics, Social Trends, Stationary Office, London, 1997, p. 82.

  19. Kelly and Kelly, op. cit., pp. 25-26.

  20. W. Brown and S. Wadhwani, 'The Economic Effects of Industrial Relations Legislation Since 1979', National Institute Economic Review, February 1991.

  21. P. Ingham, 'Changes in Manufacturing in British Manufacturing Industry in the 1980s', British Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 29, no. 1, 1991, pp. 1-15.

  22. Income Data Service, Flexibility at Work, Study 454, IDS, London, 1996.

  23. M. Beatson, 'Labour Market Flexibility', Employment Department, Research Series, no. 48, 1995.

  24. Office of National Statistics, op. cit., p. 89.

  25. Legge, op. cit., p. 268.

  26. P. Marginson, P K. Edwards, R. Martin, J. Purcell and K. Sisson, Beyond the Workplace: Managing Industrial Relations in Multi-Plant Enterprises, Blackwell, Oxford, 1988; K. Legge, 'Information Technology: Personnel Management's Lost Opportunity', Personnel Review, vol. 18, no. 5, 1989.

  27. P. Nolan and P. Marginson, 'Skating on Thin Ice? David Mecalf on Trade Unions and Productivity', British Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 28, no. 2, 1990, pp. 225-47; P. K. Edwards and C. Whitson, 'Workers are Working Harder: Effort and Shopfloor Relations in the 1980s', British Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 29, no. 4, 1991, pp. 593-601.

  28. OECD, op. cit., pp. 89-90.

  29. W. Hutton, 'Flexibility Will Not Get West Working', The Guardian, 14 March 1993, p. 15.

  30. See, for example: R. Harbridge, and K. Hince, A Sourcebook of New Zealand Trade Unions and Employer Organisations, Victoria University of Wellington Industrial Relations Centre, Wellington, 1994, preface.

  31. J. Kelsey, Economic Fundamentalism, Pluto Press, London, 1995, pp. 1-2, 17, 24.

  32. Department of the Treasury, Economic Management, [government publishers, Wellington], 1984, pp. 235-7.

  33. Department of the Treasury, Economic Management, [government publishers, Wellington], 1987, pp. 279-84.

  34. Kelsey, op. cit; chapter eight.

  35. Statistics New Zealand, New Zealand Official Yearbook, 1996, cat. no. 01.001, Statistics New Zealand, Wellington, 1996, p. 304; R. Harbridge, K. Hince and A. Honeybone, Unions and Union Membership in New Zealand, Working Paper 2/29, Industrial Relations Centre, Victoria University, Wellington, 1995, Table 3.

  36. J. Hector, J. Henning and M. Hubble, 'Industrial Relations Bargaining in the Retail Non-Food Sector: 1991-1992', New Zealand Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 18, no. 3, 1993, pp. 330-1.

  37. W. Grills, 'The Impact of the Employment Contracts Act on Labour Law: Implications for Unions', New Zealand Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 19, no. 1, 1994, pp. 80-1.

  38. J. Henning, 'The Employment Contracts Act and Work Stoppages', New Zealand Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 20, no. 1, 1995, p. 86.

  39. McAndrew, 'The Process of Developing Employment Contracts: A Management Perspective', in R. Harbridge (ed.), Employment Contracts: New Zealand Experiences, Victoria University Press, Wellington, 1993, pp. 165-84.

  40. N. Way, 'Labor Learns to Live with NZ Contract Law', Business Review Weekly, 16 October, 1995, pp. 64-7.

  41. J. Harbridge, K. Hince, and A. Honeybone, 'Union and Union Membership in New Zealand: Annual review for 1994', New Zealand Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 20, no. 2, 1995, pp. 171-83. K. Hince and R. Harbridge, 'The Employment Contracts Act: An Interim Assessment', New Zealand Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 19, no. 3, 1995, p. 237.

  42. K. Hince and R. Harbridge, 'The Employment Contracts Act: An Interim Assessment', New Zealand Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 19, no. 3, 1995, p. 237.

  43. loc. cit.

  44. ibid., p. 238.

  45. Henning, op. cit., p. 86.

  46. NZPD, Question Supplement, [government publishers, Wellington], vol. 16, pp. 6 286-7.

  47. L. Skiffington, 'Compensation for Unjustified Dismissal Under the Employment Contracts Act 1991', Employment Law Bulletin, Butterworths, July 1994.

  48. S. Teicher and S. Svensen, 'The Nature and Consequences of Labour Market Deregulation in Australasia', Current Research in Industrial Relations, Proceedings of the 11th AIRAANZ Conference, Brisbane, 30 January-1 February 1997, p. 588.

  49. Kelsey, op. cit., p. 182.

  50. Department of Statistics, Key Statistics, [government publishers, Wellington], December 1992, Table 4.04.

  51. R. West, 'In the Land of the Long Dark Cloud', The Age, 11 October 1996, p. 3.

  52. R. Harbridge and M. Street, 'Labour Market Adjustment and Women in the Service Industry', New Zealand Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 20, no. 1, 1995, pp. 23-34.

  53. OECD, OECD Economic Surveys: New Zealand, OECD, Paris, 1996, p. 56.

  54. Hince and Harbridge, op. cit., p. 237.

  55. For New Zealand see: Hince and Harbridge, op. cit., pp. 236-7; For Britain see: OECD, op. cit; pp. 89-90.

  56. For NZ see: Kelsey, op. cit., p. 186; For UK see: OECD, op. cit., p. 89.

  57. For NZ see: OECD, OECD Economic Surveys: New Zealand, OECD, Paris, 1996, pp. 56-7; For UK see: EIRR, op. cit., pp. 26-7.

  58. loc. cit.

  59. OECD Economic Surveys: United Kingdom 1996, OECD, Paris, 1996, pp. 86-7.

  60. OECD Economic Surveys: New Zealand, OECD, Paris, 1996, p. 10.

  61. Corrs, Chambers and Westgarth (Lawyers), Workplace Relations Act: An Analysis for Business, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, January 1997, pp. 3-5.

  62. P. Elias, and K. Ewing, Trade Union Democracy, Members' Rights and the Law, cited in Gosper and Palmer, op. cit., p. 147.

  63. R. Unday and R. Martin, Ballots and Union Democracy, Blackwell, Oxford, 1984, chapter four.

  64. Gospel and Palmer, op. cit., p. 259.

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