Industrial Relations

Global labour’s challenge to climate change

I originally published this on The GuardianĀ and am republishing it here. At the end November 2013, Philip Jennings, the general secretary for the global union federation UNI Global Union spoke at a climate conference in Toronto. His message was simple: “there is nothing more important facing humanity than the dangers of a warming planet. We…

Campaigning and Bargaining for Climate Action

At the end of November, I spoke at a climate conference at the University of Toronto, about a union climate campaign I organised from 2008 to 2011. The presentation was a case study on the NTEU Climate Champions campaign, which aimed to empower members to take action on climate change. Here’s a quote from my…

Who are the real competition for unions?

Conservative crank Gerard Henderson wrote last year that unions “haveĀ nothing to fear from external competition”. Apart from demonstrating that he knows relatively little about the new Fair Work Act, which allows for inter-union disputes over membership coverage, the sentiment he expressed, that unions do not face “traditional”, market based competition, is one I’ve heard expressed…

Retaining members in public sector unions

University of Warrick academic Jeremy Waddington and UNISON national officer Allan Kerr authored a fascinating article for the Industrial Relations Journal, Membership retention in the public sector. The article examines membership retention in one of the United Kingdom’s largest public sector unions, UNISON, with over 1.3 million members. Waddington and Kerr surveyed 5000 members to…

The Qantas lockout and social media #fail

I was asked over the weekend to comment on the use of social media by Qantas, who on Saturday announced that they would lock out their workforce and ground their entire fleet. It is now clear that this was an attempt by CEO Alan Joyce and Chairman Leigh Clifford to bully their workforce during collective…

Performance pay for teachers is a terrible idea and here’s why

On 7 February 2007, the then-Federal Education, Science and Training Minister, Julie Bishop, announced that ‘like other professions, teachers should be recognised and rewarded on merit.’ This policy announcement, made despite the Federal Government having no legal authority to set pay or conditions on public schools, was based on the pervasive private sector management practice…