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CONFIDENTIAL Powered By Docstoc
					               FINAL DRAFT



               April/May 1999
Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society                       Confidential

Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society                       Confidential

this requires the allocation of union resources to build:
Strength in the workplace
 Establish delegates, activists and collective structures at every union
 Educate and activate delegates to recruit, bargain and handle grievances;
 Increase funding for union education, and bargain for paid education leave;
 Create the industrial and organising rights that delegates and activists need to
   fulfil their role;
 Enhance the role of union organisers in delegate development; and
 Strengthen collective structures in the workplace.

Growth in new areas
 Recruit and organise new members in workplaces and industries where jobs
   are growing;
 Create an organising section in the union, with a coordinator and specialist
   organising teams;
 Develop new, meticulously planned organising campaign methods;
 Educate and involve delegates and activists in organising campaigns outside
   their workplace; and
 Send staff to gain organising experience with overseas unions.

Technology for the times
 Make sure that all delegates and activists are „on-line‟;
 Use the internet and email to provide cost effective advice, information and
   services – including access to a data-base of awards and agreements;
 Modernise the delivery of union services through call centres;
 Enhance union democracy and efficiency through modern structures and
   management; and
 Create national and international delegate networks, and develop campaign
   capacity (through the internet and email).
 Promote a single phone number for employees wanting to contact unions.

A strong union voice
 Develop modern, comprehensive campaign and pressure tactics;
 Build union media capacity, and market the union message;
 Involve and recruit new members around contemporary employment issues;
 Fight for decent wages and employment standards – a better wages system,
   and a safe, secure working life; and
 Form strong alliances with other groups in the community.


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To build a just and fair society Australia needs strong and effective unions.

It is unions that take the lead for better pay, improved living standards,
employment security and safer workplaces. It is unions that provide service,
strength and security for their members, preventing employers from over-stepping
the mark. And it is unions that argue – along with others - for more jobs, and
better education, health, child-care and community services.

In April, an ACTU delegation travelled to Great Britain, Belgium, Canada, Ireland,
and the United States to talk to leading unions about their strategies for growing
stronger in the era of „globalisation‟ and the information age. Those unions
reflected the concerns being expressed in Australia - concerns about job security,
unemployment, soaring profits and executive salaries, but increasing poverty, and
the impact of change in the workplace.

One of our beliefs was heartily reinforced - unions do not grow stronger, and
improve living standards, by getting smaller. The leading unions are looking for
ways to grow, to boost their influence, to involve greater numbers of women and
young people, and to recruit employees in the emerging areas of the modern
economy. They are making progress.

We returned home inspired by their efforts, and confident about the future.

In this report we have identified some key areas where Australian unions can learn
from the experiences of our colleagues overseas. Our conclusions are that new
approaches to delegate education, organising and recruiting, adapting information
technology to our needs, and improving campaigning and communications are
vital for the future.

The report concentrates on these issues – it does not traverse the broad range of
policy. The report does not propose the adoption of an overseas „model‟ – it
highlights some initiatives that can be adapted to our circumstances.

The discussions also showed that our recent efforts to achieve a Living Wage, a
better balance between work and family life, employment security and reasonable
working hours, and fair minimum standards across the workforce, are at the
forefront of union thinking. Since 1996, the Living Wage has achieved an
increase, after inflation, of 9.1% for the lowest paid workers – a record admired by
our counterparts overseas.

Australian unions are very diverse. They differ according to their history, culture,
their industries and the people they represent. Some are well advanced in a
process of change, others already have high levels of membership within their
area of coverage. Methods of organisation and recruitment vary - some rely on
professional identity rather than workplace organisation, some have highly
developed standards of servicing tailored to their members.

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The potential for growth also differs - employment is growing in the private sector,
and declining in the public sector.

But despite this diversity we believe that the report will be relevant for all unions,
and that each union has a responsibility to consider, adapt and implement the
recommendations according to its circumstances. The ACTU and the Trades and
Labor Councils have important roles to play.

We encourage debate about the issues. But, most importantly, the delegation
wants union officials, delegates and members to unite in a long-term commitment
to ensure that unions grow stronger - and continue to build a just and fair society.

Finally, we believe that unions collectively must get on with the job with vigour and
purpose. To this end we intend recommending to the ACTU Executive that a
committee of senior officials be established to pursue and monitor the
implementation of this report.

‘At a time of rapid change in the workplace employees need unions more
than ever. Unions deliver better wages, safer worplaces and more secure
jobs.’ – Greg Combert, Assistant Secretary, ACTU

Greg Combet, Assistant Secretary, ACTU
Greg Sword, Senior Vice-President, ACTU and General Secretary, NUW
Joe de Bruyn, Vice-President, ACTU and National Secretary, SDAEA
Doug Cameron, Vice-President, ACTU and National Secretary, AMWU
Sharan Burrow, member of ACTU Executive and Federal President, AEU
Jeff Lawrence, member of ACTU Executive and National Secretary, LHMU
Marion Gaynor, Research Officer, ACTU.

July, 1999


MAIN FINDINGS .................................................................................................... 1

BACKGROUND TO THE REPORT ........................................................................ 6

1.    STRENGTH IN THE WORKPLACE .............................................................. 12

2.    GROWTH IN NEW AREAS ........................................................................... 21

3.    TECHNOLOGY FOR THE TIMES ................................................................ 32

4.    A STRONG UNION VOICE ........................................................................... 39

PROFILE OF A MODERN UNION ....................................................................... 49

Detailed case studies and reference material:
A second volume of the report contains a list of people and organisations
consulted by the delegation; detailed analysis of union membership and labour
market conditions in Great Britain, Ireland and Canada; and detailed case studies
of unions, and organising and educational programmes.
Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society                       Confidential


(Lead in sentence) Leading unions overseas are finding ways to grow and build
strength in the workplace. Staff and resources are being channelled into delegate
education and organising, members are encouraged to be active in the union, and
new cost-effective approaches to providing union services are developing.

Strategies for growth
Confronted with economic change and tough industrial conditions, leading British,
Canadian and American unions have learned that to be stronger, and to improve
living standards, they must grow. The development of strategies for recruitment
and membership growth is now the primary focus for these unions.

The drive for modernisation is geared towards more efficient ways of servicing
existing members and expanding the role of delegates, leaving more funds for
organising and recruitment. The common elements of overseas strategies are:

   Realigning finance and staff so significant resources are channelled into
    organising and recruiting new members, particularly in non-union workplaces;
   Educating delegates and activists to better recruit, service and bargain in the
   Introducing improved, more cost-effective ways of providing information, advice
    and support for delegates and members, particularly through call centres and
    the use of information technology;
   Deploying specialist organising teams, often involving delegates and activists,
    in strategic recruitment campaigns; and
   Building support for union industrial and social priorities amongst the broader
    workforce and community.

This change is occurring in both private and public sectors. Experience shows that
implementing such an approach is far from easy. But as the report reveals,
significant achievements are being recorded.

Making the change
The allocation of funds and staff to union education, organising and recruitment is
the key issue. Budget priorities are being shifted from simply servicing a declining
membership to accommodate the new priorities.

The GMB, a 700,000 strong general union in Great Britain, is one particularly stark
example. Confronted with declining membership and the necessity to change and
grow, the union has gradually reduced the number of full-time staff by one-third as
part of the shift in focus to workplace organisation, aims to allocate 50% of
expenditure to organising, and is modernising branches and union structures.

For the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), education is the lifeblood of the union.
The CAW has invested heavily in delegate and activist education over the past 20
years – its education fund stands at $20 million. Many Canadian unions
implement large, well-resourced organising drives.

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In the US and Canada, the 1.3-million member Service Employees International
Union (SEIU) characterises itself as an organising union. It invests $US35 million
each year on organising drives, has a large pool of full-time specialist organisers,
and is growing. By next year the SEIU aims to have 2000 rank and file activists,
educated in organising methods, who can work on targeted organising campaigns
in conjunction with full-time organisers.

The SEIU and many other unions emphasised that taking the debate about the
need for change to their members and delegates has been a key element of their

Understanding organising
When discussing the organising strategies of overseas unions, it is vital to
understand the term „organising‟. There are two inter-related approaches -
„internal‟ and „external‟ organising.

   Internal organising involves workplaces with an existing union presence.
    Members, activists and delegates are educated and encouraged to become
    more involved in union affairs. Delegates are taught to resolve member
    grievances, negotiate collective agreements, and recruit members with the aim
    of strengthening workplace organisation.

   External organising involves targeted recruitment campaigns in non-union
    workplaces - organising and recruiting in new areas.

While it might be possible to identify the two approaches, in practice they are
closely related and part of an overall union strategy. Activists developed during
internal organising often form the core of external organising campaigns.

But when unions in Canada, the US and Great Britain talk about moving resources
into organising, they mean recruitment in non-union sites - external organising.
Delegates and activists who have been through union education are proving to be
the best recruiters/organisers. In the US, the AFL-CIO (the US equivalent of the
ACTU) is encouraging union locals (branches) to spend at least 20% of their funds
on organising.

The Australian context
Australian unions must develop strategies relevant to their own circumstances.
But one of our greatest strengths is our ability to look outwards, to draw upon
valuable lessons from overseas experience.

From a combined revenue base of $500 million per year, unions in Australia do not
spend enough on growth. Funds are mostly spent on servicing and bargaining on
behalf of existing members. And yet education, organising and recruitment is the
key to growth, the key to better security and strength for union members and the
key to continuing social and industrial advancement.

The opportunities for growth, and to extend the benefits of unionism, are immense.
72% of Australian workers do not belong to a union; many are in areas where

Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society                       Confidential

unions have an existing base; union wages are on average 15% higher; surveys
suggest that many would like to join but are never asked. The decline in union
membership in recent years is, in reality, a crisis for those without the security,
strength and services provided by union membership and involvement.

Unions will always fight for better living standards, more job opportunities, for
improved education and health care. But progress on these fronts also requires
the building of union strength.

The key issues for Australian unions
Some of the key mechanisms for building that strength are outlined in this report.
A fundamental argument is that unions must reallocate resources in order to
strengthen and protect existing membership, achieve growth, and make industrial
and social gains. In this context, four priorities are set out in the report:

1.      Strength in the workplace – Boosting workplace organisation and union
        education so delegates can play a greater role in bargaining, recruiting and

2.      Growth in new areas - Investing in the organisation of non-union
        workplaces and making a commitment to expand into employment growth

3.      Technology for the times - The use of information technology and call
        centres, plus the efficient use of funds and management of union

4.      A strong union voice – Enhancing union communications and
        campaigning, participating in public debate, setting industrial goals, and
        involving people in unions.

To succeed, the issues need to be discussed widely, and a long-term and
collective union commitment developed. A five to ten year process of change is
required. But the basis for a long term and collective commitment is strong.

Unions have a membership base of over 2 million people and a proven capacity to
adapt, to unite for change. Unions overseas continue to draw inspiration from the
collective strength demonstrated by Australian unions during the 1998 waterfront

Implementing the report
The report identifies ways in which Australian unions can grow stronger, and
extend the benefits of unionism to employees who currently lack the security,
strength, and service that comes with membership. To implement the report, the
following steps are required:

    briefings of unions at national and branch levels, and TLCs;
    discussion of the issues, including membership and delegate consultation;
    commitment to the report by the ACTU Executive, unions and TLCs;
    establishment of initial priorities for implementation, and timetable;

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   drafting of plans for implementation of priority initiatives, by the ACTU, unions
    and TLCs; and
   approval of plans and implementation.

Whilst the ACTU has the responsibility to promote the recommendations at a
national level, the Trades and Labor Councils have an equally important role at the
state level.

It is generally the branches of unions that have carriage of the bargaining,
servicing and organising workload – and where many of the initiatives proposed in
the report have impact.

Healthy debate about the issues is the precursor to a five to ten year commitment
to growth.

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                        OVERSEAS ORGANISING STRATEGY


      Employees [often
     motivated by a strong                               Delegates and activists
     sense of injustice or                              are trained in organising
     desire for respect in
                                                           skills and become
     their workplace] are           WORKPLACE             involved in activism
      the focus of union                                outside their workplace –
           organising                                   particularly in organising
          campaigns.                                     non-union workplaces.

                                                                Members are
     Pro-union employees                                  encouraged to develop
       work with union                                   an understanding of the
        organisers to                                   rights and responsibilities
     educate and motivate                                 of union membership –
        others in their                                  including the need to be
     workplace to join the                               active and involved and
            union.                                         to recruit members to
                                                              strengthen their
                                                         workplace organisation.

          A level of                                    Grievance handling and
     membership, at least                                   future collective
      sufficient to gain                                 bargaining [in part at
       [formal] union                                   least] is undertaken by
       recognition, is                                     delegates, union
          achieved.                                     workplace committees
                                                             and activists.

      Members with their
      union negotiate a                                 Delegates and workplace
     collective bargaining                                leaders are carefully
      agreement setting                                   selected, trained and
    wages, conditions and                                 supported to become
     union rights for their                              active and responsible.

                                                         Members are educated
       Democratic union                                   about their union, their
          structures,                                      industry, political and
                                     UNION              industrial issues, and the
      commenced in the
     organising campaign           WORKPLACE                threat of non-union
       stage, are further                                     worksites to their
          developed.                                         conditions and job

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(Lead in sentence) Although unions recruit more than 200,000 members each
year, many more employees must be recruited if unions are to grow. Growth and
strength in the workplace are important for the improvement of wages and
employment standards – to bring the benefits of union membership to employees
in the expanding areas of the labour market – and to achieve a just and fair

Union achievements
Australia‟s unions have played a vital role in Australian social, economic and
political life for well over one hundred years.

Union achievements extend far beyond wages and employment standards into
social advancement. Unions have fought for Medicare, education, childcare and
superannuation, and to overcome some of the destructive divisions in society
based on race, gender and income.

Unions have also looked beyond national borders and given support to struggles
for justice in other countries – struggles for independence, for democratic rights,
for human rights, and in the defeat of apartheid in South Africa.

The growth challenge
Australia‟s unions and their members, however, face challenging times with
economic and technological change, the rapidly evolving labour market, and
employers and governments which are hostile to unions. These all impact upon
union membership levels and industrial and social achievements.

Although unions continue to represent over two million members, the proportion of
the workforce belonging to unions fell from 40% to 28% between 1990 and 1998.
In the private sector, where employment is growing, union density fell from 31% to

Unions currently recruit about 210,000 members each year. But this is not enough
to stop further falls in union density – or even maintain the same total number of
members. To increase union density to just 29%, unions must double their
recruitment of new members to 420,000 per year.

Unions are responding to this challenge. Advances in recent years include
innovative services, massive savings on home loans for members, substantial real
wage gains, the evolution of more efficient organisations, and the training of over
250 young organisers skilled in new recruiting techniques. New campaign
methods which attract wider community support have been successfully attempted
– the Fair Wear campaign for justice for clothing homeworkers being a fine

The impact of change
The process of change needs to continue and intensify and, by growing, unions
will strengthen their influence over living standards and the ability to improve

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industrial and social conditions. They must attract workers in the new employment
growth areas, many of whom are in casual, low paid and insecure jobs.

Discussions with unions overseas confirmed that rapid economic and labour
market change is being experienced in many OECD nations.               The
internationalisation of economies, the mobility of capital, the speed of
communications, and managerial and technological innovations are profoundly
affecting work. In Australia, some of the important trends include:

   a fall in the proportion of full-time employment, with corresponding growth in
    part-time work and less secure forms of employment – casual, temporary,
    short-term, and contract jobs;
   a lengthening working week for many full-time employees, often for no extra
   rapid expansion in labour hire and contracting out of „non-core‟ operations;
   job growth in expanding sectors of the economy including tourism and
    hospitality, computing-related occupations, telephone call centres, and
   the loss of jobs in areas such as manufacturing, and particularly the public
    sector, where union membership has historically been high;
   a higher turnover of employees - the modern economy is characterised by less
    time in each job, adaptability in skills, and increased flexibility; and
   a tendency towards smaller workplaces - around 40% of employees are in
    workplaces with less than 20 workers.

The subsequent changes to the labour market have contributed substantially to
the fall in union density, and have also generated widespread insecurity and
concern amongst employees. The very factors which have impacted upon union
membership represent the opportunities for unions to rebuild and recruit.

Union strategies
The same trends – and opportunities – are evident in the countries visited.
Dialogue with overseas unions concentrated on:

   union organisation and recruitment, and strategies for growth;
   modernisation within unions, and steering the process of change;
   trends in wages and collective bargaining; and
   building stronger international union links.

Talks in all countries helped the delegation identify areas where Australian unions
can build on their strengths and achievements, and move ahead.


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                 Changes in Australian Employment and Total Union
                              Membership 1976-1998



   5,000,000                                                   Workforce




                       76        82         86            90          94        98

               Source: ABS Cat Nos. 6325.0 and 6310.0

                            Union Membership by Age: August 1998


   Age Group






                       0     5        10   15    20       25     30        35   40
               Source: ABS Cat No. 6310.0 August 1998

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                             Union Membership by Earnings: August 1998


   $ per week






                             0      10       20   %   30       40        50

                 Source: ABS Cat No. 6310.0 August 1998

                        Union Membership by Status of Work: August 1998


                                 Permanent                          Casual
                                              Status of Work

                 Source: ABS Cat No. 6310.0 August 1998

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            Union Membership by Workplace Size: August 1998






                <10            10-19             20-99        100+
                                Size of Workplace

       Source: ABS Cat No. 6310.0 August 1998

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                                   (Box piece-smaller type)
                                 BUILDING ON ACHIEVEMENTS

Australian unions are ready to meet the challenges ahead – backed by the substantial gains of the
last 20 years in raising wages, living standards and retirement incomes for all Australians.

The Accord
The Accord between unions and Federal Labor Governments between 1983 and 1996 delivered
significant social and industrial improvements including Medicare, child care, social wage benefits,
education and training initiatives, and employment and industry policies.

Updating awards
Through award restructuring, minimum pay rates were adjusted through alignment with defined skill
levels, resulting in significant advances for low paid workers, particularly women.

Wages policy
The shift to enterprise bargaining was accompanied by a continuing union commitment to awards
and centralised wage increases for workers who could not benefit from bargaining. The Living
Wage has realised a total increase of $36 per week since it was launched in 1996 – a real wage
increase of 9.1% for low paid workers.

Union bargaining has also delivered significant real wage improvements for union members over
the past six years. Union members earn, on average, 15% more than non-unionists.

Unions achieved a universal superannuation system for employees. Prior to this only 40% of
employees (50% of men, 25% of women) had superannuation as a condition of employment. This
institutional shift represented a major boost for national savings and created membership benefits
such as low-cost home loans.

Union restructuring
Unions have restructured over the past 10 years, coverage has been overhauled and the number
of unions has been reduced through amalgamations.

Collective resources
In recent years, unions have built collective resources for organising and education which have
seen 250 young organisers graduate from Organising Works. The ACTU Trust has built union
services, information and call centre facilities, and NewTUTA is developing innovative organising
and union management courses.

Support for unionism
Support for unions remains strong within the Australian community. A recent report on the
attitudes of Australians to unions revealed that 63% of workers believed that unions stood up for
employees, and 93% of workers aged 16-34 expressed positive perceptions of union power. Small
business employees, few of whom are union members, were just as supportive of unionism as their
counterparts in large workplaces. The report said: “For many workers, the role of unions is
deemed to be important in enabling workers to make more money than would otherwise be the
case and maintain their families’ quality of life, thus bringing them the sense of accomplishment
and self-esteem”.


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Activism and commitment are the lifeblood of unions. Educating delegates and
developing activists is the key to strong and effective unions in the workplace. It is
the basis for union growth.


The pivotal role of delegates and activists
Many overseas unions place delegate development at the centre of their
activities. Delegates play a crucial role in dispute resolution and as negotiators,
recruiters, industrial activists and union representatives. Delegates, not full-time
officials, are mainly responsible for collective workplace bargaining. The
democratic involvement of delegates forms the foundation of unionism and
ensures that workplaces are effective union sites.

Education for the future
Future leaders are encouraged through education. Union education generates
activists in the workplace and in the union, building campaigning capacity,
developing organising and recruiting skills, and advancing union political and
industrial objectives. Delegates cannot participate in the union without education,
they need the skills and confidence to take on a wider role, therefore a substantial
and sustained investment in education is essential.

The Scandinavian and Canadian Paid Education Leave System (PEL) is an
invaluable way of financing union education. The employer pays a levy (secured
through collective bargaining agreements) into a union education trust fund.

The best, most cost-effective recruiters
Overseas unions argue that delegates and activists are the most effective and
successful recruiters in their own workplace, as well as in campaigns to organise
non-union sites. Many unions, particularly those in Canada, use delegates and
activists in organising campaigns outside their workplace, to supplement specialist
organisers who mainly coordinate the campaign.

If delegates can take up recruiting, servicing and bargaining in the workplace,
union resources can be allocated to other priorities – notably organising non-union

Rights for delegates
If workplace organisation is to be strengthened, a set of rights for delegates is
essential. Leave for union education, the ability to be seconded to the union, time
for carrying out union work on the job, protection from discrimination, and other
industrial rights are vital and fundamental.

A broad social approach
Education in social and political, as well as industrial issues, is an important
feature of union education in Canada. This helps develop a wider campaigning
capacity and facilitates community involvement.

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Union visibility
Canadian and US unions ensure, in conjunction with other local and national
organisations, the visibility of the union in the workplace and the local area by
working to create a sense of community. Member education and activation is


“You can have a good relationship with the employer, and a friendly government,
but a union must never fall asleep and forget workplace organisation,” said Bob
White, CLC President.

The Scandinavian experience
Norwegian and Danish union representatives stressed that, notwithstanding the
existence of strong centralised bargaining, delegate education and development is
the highest priority – and has been for many years.

Collective agreements often include payment by the employer of 1% of the wage
bill into a union education trust fund, which finances delegate education.
Delegates handle workplace negotiations, recruitment and dispute resolution.

Some Danish unions also allocate 25% of their budget to delegate development -
three months of union training over the first two years as a delegate is the basic
requirement. Delegates have the highest status of all officials. The centenary of
unions was dedicated as the „Year of the Shop Steward‟.

Delegates are not paid extra money, but they have rights under law and in
collective agreements, including time off for union work. Unions have their own
education centres. Delegates are educated to bargain, recruit, negotiate with
employers, be pragmatic and advise members.

Canadian Auto Workers Paid Education Leave (PEL)
The CAW has 220,000 members working in a vast array of industries - education
is critical for the union, allowing the development of members and delegates as
community and workplace activists, organisers, negotiators, educators, and as
future union leaders.

Under PEL, employers make payments into a union education trust fund. The
CAW has been negotiating PEL since 1978 and has implemented PEL in over
90% of its collective agreements.

The „Big Three‟ automotive companies (Chrysler, GM, and Ford) pay 5 cents per
hour per worker for PEL. Others pay 1, 2 or 3 cents per hour. The CAW PEL fund
contains $18-20 million at any given time. Funds from an employer must be spent
on the employees of that company but the CAW can spend the interest from
accumulated funds across the industry.

The foundation of union education is a four-week program covering collective
bargaining, economics, social issues, and international affairs. The CAW has

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established a quality education centre at Port Elgin, Ontario, which is maintained
with PEL funds. Each year, 800 members attend residential programs and 1200
members participate in weekend programs.

There is a two-week activists‟ course for women, financed directly by the union,
and members and their families can also attend summer education programs. 3%
of union membership fees are dedicated to education in addition to PEL.

PEL is distinguished from skills training, for which the union also bargains. Port
Elgin has a top-line computer laboratory to teach families how to use computers
and how to find progressive web sites.

Many delegates go on to become trainers by completing a further seven-week
course, becoming part of a „pool‟ of 120 rank-and-file trainers who take leave from
work to teach at Port Elgin. This group and others also work on organising drives,
and are developed as the future union leadership.

Canadian Union of Public Employees
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has made workplace
organisation the centrepiece of its strategy for recruitment and growth, industrial
bargaining strength, and bolstering campaigning capacity. CUPE has 389,300
members working in health care, education, municipalities, social services,
libraries, utilities, transportation, emergency services and airlines.

„Organising the Organised‟ is an 8-10 year strategy for change that was initiated
several years ago because the old ways were not working. The weakness of union
organisation was highlighted by an inability to respond to constant public sector
cutbacks, and ineffective union campaigns that did little to reach the membership.
The strategy focuses on:

   establishing delegates and activists in all workplaces;
   educating delegates as workplace communicators, educators, campaign
    organisers and troubleshooters;
   strategic targeting of organising drives;
   enhancing the capacity of members and delegates to handle grievances,
    bargain directly, and service members;
   developing rank-and-file, or community, organisers;
   developing a rapid campaigning ability in defence of public services;
   obtaining paid union and education leave in collective agreements;
   changing union structures and enhancing membership input;
   improving communications through telecommunications and the internet; and
   lifting the role of the union in the community.

(box piece)
Leading overseas unions use specialist organisers to run organising campaigns.
The specialist organisers do not negotiate agreements, handle disputes and
disciplinary work, and service existing members – they organise non-union
workers. Other union officials and staff handle the bargaining and servicing
workload when it can‟t be done on the job through collective action or by delegates
and activists.

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The Australian union organiser has had a different role – to do nearly everything!
While the traditional role of the organiser in recruitment is vital, Australian unions
also need to develop specialist organisers who run organising campaigns at non-
union sites.


Vibrant unionism is based on strong and effective workplace organisation. There is
evidence that union organisation in many Australian workplaces needs a
substantial boost. The 1995 AWIRS survey, and other research, provides some
important indicators.

Delegates and collective bargaining make a difference
A strong union influence in the workplace hinges on the presence of delegates and
the involvement of unions in bargaining. The survey recorded that in the
workplaces where activity by delegates, activists and union representatives was
high, they most commonly recorded either increases or, alternatively, the lowest
falls in union membership between 1990 and 1995.

Members rated the performance of a union 50% higher in workplaces with
delegates on the floor, compared to unionised workplaces without delegates.

About one-third of unionised workplaces have no delegate. A further one-third of
workplaces with a union presence (even with a delegate) exhibit no union activity
as measured by union involvement in bargaining or regular meetings with
management and/or members.

Delegates maintain organisation
21% of union workplaces without delegates became de-unionised between 1989-
90 and 1995-96. In the same period, only 2% of workplaces with delegates were
de-unionised and only 1% where unions were active in bargaining and negotiating
with management.

Workplace union activity is also declining – only 11% of delegates spend "a lot of
time" on recruitment. Further, only 10% of delegates were trained in recruitment in
1995 yet 24% were trained on union rules and structures.

Education on the wane
In 1995, the AWIRS survey found that only 39% of delegates received formal
training in the previous year. A survey of unions prior to the 1997 ACTU Congress
revealed that the level of delegate education had fallen by approximately one-third
since the loss of government funding in 1996. Many unions have cut down on
delegate education as budgets have tightened.

Bargaining changes the landscape
It is impossible for full-time officials to meet the demands of bargaining and
negotiating at every workplace and, therefore, delegates must be equipped for the

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In overseas unions, where bargaining has long been the basis of industrial
relations, delegates have primary carriage of collective bargaining. Equipping
delegates to play a greater role will not only strengthen workplace organisation but
free up resources. Delegates must be educated in this role, they must have the
industrial rights allowing them to undertake the task, and the necessary back-up.

Box piece:
Achieving workplace activism
Experience in Australia and overseas shows that titles such as delegate, shop steward or union
representative can sometimes discourage union involvement. A flexible approach is necessary,
taking into account the workplace culture and employee attitudes. The simple establishment of
union contacts in a workplace, each with a different level of activity, can be more important than a
contrived formal delegate structure.


1. Boost delegate and activist education and representation
Unions must boost delegate education and activist/delegate development. This will
require a phased and long-term commitment, a substantial and sustainable
increase in education funding, and an increase in the number of delegates.
Boosting delegate education should be the basis of plans to strengthen workplace
organisation. The objectives should be to:

   establish delegates at all union workplaces;
   encourage delegate and activist involvement in the union;
   equip delegates and activists to recruit, handle grievances, and bargain in the
   develop delegates and activists to work on organising campaigns;
   build campaign capacity; and
   educate in the use of information technology.

Unions will need to develop plans for boosting delegate and activist education and
representation. The process should commence with a review, and take account of
the key issues set out below. Equipping delegates to play a greater role, and
financing union education are the key elements.

2. Education audit, analysis and planning
Unions should conduct an audit and analysis of their union education, and develop
a plan for future education requirements. The audit should consider:

   current levels of delegate and activist education;
   the adequacy of education facilities;
   the adequacy of industrial rights for delegates to union education;
   the content of courses and their relevance to organising and recruitment;
   the changes required to strengthen workplace organisation, and implement this
   the requirement for flexible delivery of courses out-of-work hours, a role for on-
    line education; and
   options for increasing finance for union education.

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The ACTU will need to coordinate the audit and analysis by unions and identify the
role of collective education arrangements through NewTUTA and the Trades and
Labor Councils.

3.    Delegate audit, analysis and planning
Unions should identify the strengths and weaknesses of their workplace
organisation by carrying out an audit and analysis of current delegate
representation, followed by a plan for boosting delegate representation. The audit
and analysis should consider:

   whether there are delegates in each workplace;
   the capacity of delegates to handle grievances and workplace bargaining;
   delegate involvement in recruitment and organising;
   the industrial rights of delegates, including access to education leave;
   the adequacy of resources available to delegates;
   the effectiveness of workplace union structures;
   union-delegate communication methods;
   education needs; and
   priority areas for delegate and activist development.

Criteria for benchmarking these issues in each workplace can assist organisers to
identify strengths and weaknesses, education requirements, and prioritise areas
needing improvement.

4. Redefining roles
The key objective of union education should be to equip delegates and activists to
play a more active role in the union, handle local grievances, recruit new
employees, negotiate workplace-level collective agreements, and work with
organisers to:

   increase membership in the workplace;
   find and develop activists;
   educate members and non-members on the job; and
   campaign around workplace and broader issues.

The current role of union organisers must also be enhanced if delegates are to do
more servicing, negotiating, and recruiting. The objective should be to build the
role of organisers in resourcing and developing delegates, identifying targets for
organising campaigns, and acting as educators.

While it will take considerable time for the roles of delegates and organisers to
change in these ways, and circumstances will differ, the objectives need to be
discussed within unions and the support of organisers and delegates sought. A
transitional process, involving education, and alleviating service demands on
existing organisers, will be important.

5. Financing union education
Unions should identify the best option(s) and combinations for financing the boost
in union education:

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   paid leave in all agreements;
   direct union investment;
   allocation of a proportion of membership fees, or a levy; and
   a paid education leave fund, financed by employer contributions.

In the medium to long term, unions individually, or collectively, should bargain for
the establishment of a paid education leave fund to finance delegate education.
The achievement of this by unions in strategic sectors would be an important
breakthrough. Membership understanding and support for the concept and the
claim must first be established.

6. Establishing a new ACTU Organising Centre
The ACTU should establish a new Organising Centre dedicated to union strength
and growth. NewTUTA, Organising Works and the Organising Unit should be
integrated into the ACTU Organising Centre, which should provide leadership and
coordination in the implementation of the relevant areas of this report. The
following organising and education services would be fundamental:

   curriculum development;
   delegate education;
   organiser education;
   education in organising methods and campaign tactics and skills;
   union management education for officials;
   helping unions plan and implement organising campaigns;
   union management analysis and assistance with operational change; and
   Organising Works trainees.

Trades and Labor Councils can play an important role in the delivery of these
services. A coordinator of organising and education in the TLC could work closely
with the ACTU Organising Centre.

7. Financing the new ACTU Organising Centre
The ACTU in consultation with unions should identify the funding and service
requirements of the Organising Centre. A firm financial basis for the core operation
is necessary. In addition, a contractual arrangement with individual unions should
be evaluated, which:

   enables a union to utilise the particular service(s) it requires;
   ensures the delivery of a programme tailored to meet union requirements; and
   provides certainty to the ACTU about funding and staffing.

8. Prioritise spending
Unions should establish criteria for identifying spending priorities when boosting
workplace organisation and delegate education. The criteria could include:

   developing key delegates or delegate structures in a particular industry;
   workplaces strategically important to the union;
   workplaces at risk from anti-union employer activity;
   workplaces with significant potential membership;

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   workplaces with substantial grievance and servicing workloads; and
   workplaces with forthcoming agreement negotiations.

9. Rights and resources for delegates
Unions must ensure that a basic package of delegates‟ and activists‟ rights is
incorporated into certified agreements or provided for wherever possible,

   paid leave for union education;
   time for carrying out union responsibilities in the workplace;
   access to telephone, fax, photocopier, computer, email, internet;
   leave for union secondment; and
   consultation and negotiating rights.

Increasing the responsibilities and expectations on delegates will be counter-
productive unless delegates are backed-up with industrial rights and resources.
The removal from industrial awards of these rights by the Howard Government
must be countered by their establishment in certified agreements.

The Canadian Auto Workers gives top priority to achieving these rights in
negotiations – it will not conclude an agreement without them. Other US and
Canadian unions adopt the same approach because they know that unions cannot
operate effectively without such rights.

10. Promoting collective bargaining structures in the workplace
The ACTU should initiate debate about the merits of Works Councils which are
underpinned by industrial law. De-unionisation strategies and individual contracts
demand a closer political and industrial examination of the Works Council concept
– as an institution supporting collective bargaining and collective organisation.

Mature democratic societies promote collective bargaining. Individual contracts are
inherently unfair for the overwhelming majority of employees. In Europe, Works
Councils operate at workplace, company and industry levels and represent an
important basis for collective industrial relationships and the democratic
participation of employees, as well as a useful forum for unions.

An alternative industrial approach may involve the inclusion in certified
agreements of Collective Bargaining Committees which operate with a charter of
union rights, including delegates‟ rights, and consultation and bargaining rights.

11. Developing delegate and activist networks and forums
Unions should ensure effective communication with delegates, and establish
methods for delegates to communicate amongst themselves. Delegates need to
have a focus on broader issues in their industry and company, not just the

Large delegate meetings and conferences are important but other methods can be
just as effective. The internet and email offer new opportunities for delegate

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   linking delegates in a corporation (including those overseas) by email and via
   providing easy to access information and resources from the union; and
   establishing regional or industry-wide delegate networks.

Networks enable the rapid sharing of industrial and bargaining information, help
overcome the fragmentation caused by site-by-site bargaining, and build industrial
strength. Imaginative approaches, such as telephone trees, can be developed to
cater for workers who are on the road and meet rarely, or members who operate in
small, diverse workplaces. Trades and Labor Councils can provide collective union
forums for delegates.

12. Involving delegates in industrial and political campaigns
Establishing delegate structures and boosting education must be linked to activity
around relevant industrial and political campaigns, which are the most important
ways of involving people in the union. The simple strategy of conducting a survey
in the ACTU Employment Security and Working Hours campaign has revealed
many people who are prepared to be active, and highlighted the issues which can
form the basis of bargaining claims.

13. Involving delegates in organising campaigns
Unions should develop delegates and activists, not just to recruit in their own
workplaces, but also as specialist organisers, who can be seconded to the union
during organising campaigns. This is a fundamental component of the approach
adopted by overseas unions - activists are trained and used for organising and
recruiting in targeted non-union sites. Many activists also participate as volunteer

US and Canadian experience shows that recruitment by members of non-
members in the workplace is the most successful method of recruitment. A survey
of 11,000 new union members in the UK revealed that only 3% were recruited by a
full-time union official; 67% were recruited by other union members.

14. Incentives and protection for delegates
Many unions have trialed ways of providing recognition and incentives for
delegates, including commissions on membership fees, rewards for all members in
a work area if they achieve 100% membership, and income protection insurance.

Protection for delegates and activists against employer pressure is equally
important. More aggressive use should be made of:

   Section 298K of the Workplace Relations Act (which protects against
   union industrial cooperation, which could be coordinated by TLCs; and
   corporate campaigning tactics.

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(Lead in sentence) Leading unions dedicate time, staff and resources to
organising and recruiting non-union workers, using specialist staff and rigorous
planning. At the same time, unions must maintain professional bargaining and
servicing for existing members.


Organising non-union sites
All unions consulted by the delegation, particularly in Canada and the US, are
committed to organising non-union sites as an essential part of growth strategy.
Unions will not grow without a genuine commitment to organising.

Resource allocation
Substantial resources are being invested in organising. Options adopted by unions
to raise funds for organising include reallocating money from strike funds,
allocating a percentage of union fees, and selling assets. The CAW allocates 2%
of fees to organising drives. In the US there is a move to channel 20% of union
budgets into organising - the AFL-CIO alone invests $US20 million annually.

Servicing as an organising opportunity
An increased focus on organising does not mean that members miss out on
services – unions do both. A growth strategy requires realignment and
commitment throughout the union to organising, but not at the expense of
servicing and bargaining. Many grievances and other 'servicing' demands are
used as organising opportunities – as opposed to the union official acting as a
„fixer‟ or a „third party‟. The key is not to miss these opportunities, and simply
spend all resources on traditional servicing.

Specialist activity
Unions overseas use specialist organisers for conducting organising campaigns.
Nearly all Canadian unions and several US unions have an organising department
with a budget and staff. Some British unions are also moving in this direction. The
clear experience is that a budget and specialist staff are vital in achieving an
effective strategy, and monitoring performance and results.

Active unions typically have a coordinator, a strategic planning capacity, and
specialist teams of mobile organisers – supplemented by delegates, activists and
other union staff. Specialist techniques are applied and specific skills are sought
in organisers – particularly the ability to communicate and motivate. Overworked
full-time officials are not asked to organise in non-union areas on top of their
current duties.

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Organising is carefully planned
Successful organising campaigns are meticulously planned and targeted. Hard-
headed judgements are made, plans are reviewed, and specialist skills and
training is required. Investment can be major, campaigns long, and returns slow.
Successful unions do not expect a short-term return on organising investments.

In the UK, Canada and the US the careful identification of priority targets, which
are important for the protection of existing members from unfair non-union
competition, is increasingly seen as important in organising drives. Many unions
overseas have developed sophisticated criteria to identify targets, and pay
particular attention to the largest corporations.

Persuading members about organising
The debate about the need to organise is taken to members and delegates. The
Canadian unions target non-union workplaces that compete with, or contract to,
organised sites. Members understand the need to organise these sites - there is
direct industrial relevance. In this way unions build from their existing strengths.

The best organising campaigns
The most successful and cheapest organising campaigns are often those that are
driven by members and activists, from within and outside the workplace. Activating
membership involvement is a key priority. Members become involved by:

   identifying targets for organising drives;
   working as temporary full-time, part-time or volunteer recruiters/organisers;
   obtaining a job in a non-union workplace and organising from within; and
   working on other aspects of the organising drive – leafleting, home visits,
    finding leads into the workplace.

The CAW full-time organising team is supplemented by a pool of 200 fully trained
„community-based organisers‟ – rank and file activists who take leave without pay
from their jobs to work on organising drives.

Campaigns focus on issues
Organising drives do not take place in isolation from real issues. An early
objective is to identify the concerns of employees at the targeted workplace and
these then become the vehicle for the campaign. Surveys are often used to
identify issues and potential activists. Recent, extremely successful, organising
drives at major hotels in Toronto have been built around the theme of respect and

Coverage – use it or lose it
Traditional union coverage is less relevant when non-union sites are involved.
The Canadian unions have promoted the „use it or lose it‟ notion of union
jurisdiction - which has seen the CAW organise in fast-food and fishing, and the
United Steel Workers expand into retail areas.

The concept of community-based union organisation adopted by the British Iron
and Steel Trades Confederation also rests on the organisation of non-union sites -
outside traditional coverage but within the union‟s natural area of advantage. The

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union has organised a major non-union computer plant in Scotland that employs
1,000 workers, including many young people.

In the US, „geo-industrial‟ unionism is emerging, where unionists with a strong
community base organise major non-union sites in their locality.

Messages to the community
The creation of interest and sympathy with union values and objectives is
important to recruitment. Unions must look beyond the daily demands of their
existing members and appeal to young people, women, low-paid and casual
workers. Justice in the workplace is linked with justice and fair treatment in the
wider community.

Associate membership
A discounted form of membership is used by some unions as a pre-organising
strategy, as a way of maintaining contact and involvement with members who
have lost their jobs, and as a means of involving students. Some unions have a
„union for life‟ policy encouraging members to stay in the union regardless of
career and job changes. UNITE, which organises clothing and textile workers in
North America, provides associate membership to homeworkers along with basic
union benefits and services.


“You can‟t organise without organisers, and you can‟t grow without investing in
growth,” Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
The SEIU, which operates in the US and Canada, commits almost half its $US80
million budget to organising. Several hundred full-time specialist organisers and
1,000 rank and file organisers have helped to boost membership by 250,000 over
the last three years.

The union leadership initiated the shift to organising by establishing a Committee
on the Future, which analysed the union and stimulated debate about its future – a
dialogue with a „million members‟ – between 1992-96. This dialogue was crucial in
overcoming resistance to change and winning agreement for the strategy to
organise and grow.

The SEIU, which makes a clear distinction between internal and external
organising, is now the fastest growing union in the US. Members work in hospitals,
nursing homes, offices, stadiums, schools, and in state and local government

To involve its locals in organising and growth, the national union negotiates a
contractual commitment with the local, making national funds available if the local
commits 20-30% of its budget to organising. Over 300 locals have taken this step.
Membership education in those locals is the engine for change – internal

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organising drives external growth. The aim is that 1 in 10 members will have
participated in union education by 2000.

Within the modernised locals there is generally a three-way split in union
operations between delegates handling basic problems and negotiations;
dedicated grievance handling and servicing staff; and „internal‟ organisers who
develop delegates and generate activism. External organising is additional to
these activities.

Organisers and delegates are assessed each year by the SEIU against a range of
skills, attributes and performance criteria – prominent amongst which is the ability
to communicate with, and involve members.

The recent recruitment of 75,000 Californian home-care workers is a graphic
example of the union‟s commitment to organising. This is the second-largest
successful organising drive in US labour history. The campaign took 10 years,
many millions of dollars, involved thousands of people, and required massive
political mobilisation. In 1998, 50,000 hospital workers were recruited – exceeding
the total of those recruited in the previous five years.

The SEIU encircles employers during organising drives by every means available:

   community pressure - particularly harnessing the „moral high ground‟ through
    partnerships with religious and social justice organisations and individuals;
   political pressure - politicians are asked to publicly support organising
    campaigns, and create the legal and bureaucratic environment to help offset
    employer opposition; and
   commercial pressure - by appealing to consumers and customers, asserting
    financial pressure, intervening in planning body applications, issuing alternative
    financial prospectus, and many other means.

But the most important elements of any organising campaign are planning,
research, comprehensive campaign techniques, and the education and activation
of workers.

Iron and Steel Trades Confederation (ISTC)
The ISTC traditionally covered workers employed by British Steel. Its membership
peaked at 108,000 but fell after restructuring to fewer than 30,000 several years
ago. A decision was made to grow, not die, and a radical approach was adopted.

The union determined to draw upon its established base in the steel communities,
and organise in non-traditional workplaces. Ten per cent of income has been
allocated to organising – £400,000 this year - and a new Organising Department
now accounts for half the staff.

The union‟s traditional membership is male (only 8% are female), but it has
appointed three young women as full-time organisers. Four thousand new
members have been recruited at non-union sites in the food and hospitality
industries, and in plastics, paints, and electronics.

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The ISTC organising approach involves careful planning and targeting of non-
union sites in steel areas. The key elements are rigorous research of the
company, the identification of contacts (often through the families of steel
workers), home visits, leaflets, surveys, meetings, workplace mapping, building
workers‟ networks - and persistence.

The Canadian Auto Workers’ (CAW) approach
The CAW builds its organising campaigns around the involvement of union
activists who are familiar with the local community, the industry and the targeted
workplaces. The union emphasises organising at non-union sites to defend union
wages and employment standards.

The CAW allocates 2% of union dues to organising, on top of a budget allocation.
There are specialist organisers, but the main emphasis is on using trained activists
in local organising committees, elected by and from the rank-and-file. They visit
prospective members‟ homes and build networks into the workplace through the

Strategies vary according to circumstances. In community organising drives,
members who have been trained under PEL take unpaid leave to work on a drive
in their area. Once organised, workplaces are given to a union representative to
service, and the member organiser returns to their workplace. As part of this
hand-over, delegates in the newly organised workplace are trained to handle
workplace issues.

The union believes the strength behind organising is the PEL system because it
creates activist groups of workers who become member organisers.

Winnie Ng – Ontario Regional Director - CLC
“The things that drive recruitment are a sense of indignation, and a sense of lack
of respect. Workers want to be respected by the employer for the work they do,
they want justice and dignity in the workplace. Our organising campaigns in the
HERE Local 25 in the big Toronto hotels are built on the theme of respect.

“The best recruiting drives are those with organisers inside the workplace. This
approach involves not just signing up those few workers who come forward, but
sending them away to bring more with them, to bring names of other workers.
This organising is not union staff driven but worker driven. The stronger the
workplace structure, the stronger the union.

“Organising the organised involves pushing the workers to say “if it‟s my problem
it‟s the groups problem”. It involves establishing Action Committees who receive
training during lunchtime around handling workplace issues.             It‟s about
regenerating the notion that the union is the members, and the union is only as
strong as the members.

“The strategy involves identifying active members and shop stewards. It involves
doing house visits to workers to talk about their issues, and to meet their families.
It‟s about talking to them as community members – identifying those who are

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active in their community, and pressing them to get active in the union. It‟s about
reinstating a sense of pride in belonging to the union movement.”

AFL-CIO strategic unionism
The AFL-CIO analyses and researches specific industries and employers to
identify strategic organising opportunities and the means by which unions can
apply pressure. One current project is examining the auto parts industry to see
how the unions can grow, to move beyond the shrinking assembly plants. Similar
studies are being conducted in the steel, retail, building, hotels and public sector


Investment in growth
Australian unions have a combined revenue base of about $500 million per year.
Not enough of this is invested in growth, in organising or recruiting.

This is not to suggest that unions do not currently organise and recruit - around
210,000 members are recruited each year. But in order to maintain current
membership levels unions must collectively recruit 285,000 members each year.

In order to sustain union density at the current level of 28%, unions must
collectively recruit 348,000 members each year. And in order to achieve an
increase of only 1% in density, to 29%, at least 420,000 new members are
needed. That is, to grow, our recruitment must be doubled.

Focusing on employment growth areas
In the long-term, union density will only increase if unions are active in areas
where employment is growing, not declining.

For example, employment in call centres is expected to increase from around
60,000 to 350,000 in the next four to five years. The workplaces are large and
conditions for employees are often difficult, but call centres represent a
phenomenal organising opportunity.

Employment in computer services has increased by 217% in five years. Hospitality
and tourism is flourishing. Young people – the workforce of the future – gravitate to
these industries.

Lifting recruitment
The 1995 AWIRS survey showed that full-time union officials attempted to recruit
in only 15% of non-union workplaces surveyed, and in only 1% of those cases did
at least one employee became a union member. Despite an improved effort since
the survey, the absence of a substantial and sustained recruiting effort is the
single feature that distinguishes Australian unions from the leading unions
consulted by the delegation.

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Wage competition from non-union sites
Union wages in Australia are an average 15% higher than the wages of non-union
workers. In the US and Canada, the gap has reached 30%, providing a powerful
economic incentive for employers to de-unionise – as well as a good reason for
employees to organise in a union. The organisation of non-union sites which
compete with unionised workplaces is vital to protect the wages and conditions of
union members, as is the maintenance of an effective award system.

Wages and employment standards at stake
Failure to invest in growth will invariably lead to lower wages, inferior employment
standards, deterioration in occupational health and safety in the workplace, and
increased inequality.

       Source: ABS Cat Nos 6325.0 [August 1994] and 6310.0 [August 1998]

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1. Target priority organising areas
The ACTU and unions must pay urgent attention to organising and recruiting in
areas where employment is growing, where union density is very low, and in non-
union sites. Progress is initially needed at two levels – collective identification of
priorities and individual union planning.

To establish collective priorities, the ACTU, TLCs and relevant unions should
review union density in major industries, analyse employment trends, and target
key areas. Some areas are important from a strategic standpoint – large hotels
and call centres are growth areas for young people and women, and as, large
workplaces, they are vital for union growth.

Individual unions should concentrate on increasing their density in industries
where they have an established advantage, and back that strategy with substantial
resources and planning, and membership activation. Various criteria can be
applied to analyse organising priorities, such as current union density,
management attitude, workplace size, full-time and casual employee levels.

2. Establish an organising section, use specialist organisers
Each union, but particularly those with coverage of employment growth areas,
should establish an organising section or department - the basic elements of which
will be:

   a full-time coordinator (who may be an elected official);
   specialist full-time organisers, including Organising Works trainees;
   support staff;
   a team approach;
   capacity to second delegates and activists as temporary, part-time or voluntary
   authority to draw upon other union staff when needed;
   research and planning capacity;
   ability to produce campaign material;
   a realistic budget; and
   coordination with the broader union industrial and education priorities.

The clearest possible lesson from overseas is that specialist and skilled organisers
are essential, as is the involvement of rank and file activists. The attributes
necessary for a successful organiser should be identified by each union having
regard to the nature of the industry and occupation. Unions can adapt specialist
organising teams to best suit their industries and circumstances.

3. Find the funds for organising
The organising section must be underpinned by adequate financial support.
Funding options should be debated, and could include:

   a proportion of membership fees;
   revenue from property;

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   borrowing against assets, selling assets;
   reallocating campaign or strike funds;
   obtaining support for a levy;
   defining and allocating a percentage of overall union expenditure; and
   reallocating staff, improving the efficiency of union operations.

4. Union education must include specialist organising methods
Union education for activists and delegates must reflect the union growth strategy
– and include training in specialist organising methods. There will need to be
mechanisms for the coordination of education, workplace organisation and the
specialist organising section.

The message from unions overseas is that the most successful and cost-effective
organising campaigns are those that use delegates and activists, generally as
temporary organisers supplementing specialist full-time organisers. Unions should
consider establishing a temporary organisers project with associated education

5. How the new ACTU Organising Centre can help
The new ACTU Organising Centre should provide specialist advice and services,

   education for coordinators of organising sections;
   education for specialist organisers, including trainees;
   education for delegates and activists in organising methods;
   planning and research advice;
   developing handbooks and materials for adaptation by unions; and
   coordinating organising projects with a union or group of unions.

In 1998, the ACTU expanded the Organising Works programme to create the
Organising Unit, which facilitates the loan of skilled specialist organisers to a union
for specific projects. The organisers are only provided if the union meets several
criteria that deal with planning, the allocation of resources, and a commitment to
training of staff. With added investment, unions will be able to tackle more
substantial organising projects, and organise collectively. TLCs can play an active
role in the development and implementation of organising projects.

6. Target the site, plan the campaign
Unions must meticulously plan and resource their organising initiatives. A detailed
checklist to evaluate and plan campaigns should be developed, including, but not
limited to, matters such as:

   research of possible employer targets;
   the identification of employee contacts, a list of employees;
   the use of delegates and activists as temporary organisers;
   the use of community contacts and organisations;
   right of entry arrangements;
   the use of activists trained in home visits;

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   surveys of employees identifying industrial concerns, complaints and
    organising opportunities;
   production of campaign materials;
   the organisation of off-site meetings;
   workplace mapping and building employee networks;
   industrial strength relied upon, and areas of possible leverage over the
   union services that may be attractive, such as access to vocational training and
   other forms of applying pressure to the employer;
   award respondency, possible prosecutions for breach;
   claims, initiation of bargaining periods;
   corporate and political campaign tactics;
   budgetary requirements;
   staff requirements;
   mechanisms for reviewing progress; and
   criteria for evaluating the prospect of success.

Linking organising campaigns to the industrial agenda of the union and the
workplace concerns of employees is crucial.

7. Build comprehensive campaign methods
Unions will need to develop skills and methods which maximise pressure on an
employer during an organising campaign, and which bolster employee confidence.
The establishment of collective resources and expertise through the ACTU and
TLCs will also be necessary. Areas requiring development include:

   use of the media;
   corporate campaigning, influencing investors and customers;
   coordinated industrial support;
   political support;
   protests;
   surveys, petitions, telephone polling of employees;
   integrating legal and arbitral strategies with organising;
   relationships with community organisations;
   activating membership support for employees at a targeted site; and
   celebrating and rewarding successful campaigns.

8. Lift the status of organising
Specialist organisers must enjoy equal status and remuneration with other officials
involved in servicing, bargaining and advocacy. Organising and recruiting cannot
simply be the entry point to a union career, with the underlying intention being a
fast escape to a more „senior‟ position. The status of the work must be raised or
good organisers will not be retained.

9. Monitor exclusive coverage of non-union sites
The ACTU Executive should monitor coverage of non-union areas. The system of
union coverage rights in Australia has worked well. It has largely prevented
destructive competitive unionism. But there is a weakness in that inactivity by a

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union with coverage of non-union workplaces and sectors of employment is an
impediment to growth.

ACTU policy says that coverage rights should carry a responsibility to recruit and
organise. Any collective union growth strategy should emphasise this
responsibility. The challenge will be to find solutions that best serve the interests of
workers and the union movement, without engendering destructive and resource-
draining competitive unionism.

10. Staff exchanges
One simple mechanism for developing a better knowledge of the techniques and
the policy issues surrounding organising strategies is for Australian unions to
expand their involvement in staff exchanges with unions overseas.

Canadian and US unions emphasised their willingness to involve Australians in
their organising campaigns. Arrangements could be developed on a union-to-
union basis or through the ACTU and corresponding peak councils.

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(Lead in sentence) New technology offers exciting opportunities which help union
growth. The internet and e-mail allow members, delegates and officials to
communicate quickly and effectively, call centres offer efficiency gains, and the
potential of websites to boost campaigns is largely unexploited. Effectively
managing a process of change in the union is important in achieving growth.


Call centres
Some overseas unions are using call centres to streamline and professionalise the
way they handle inquiries and provide services and, at the same time, allow other
resources to be redirected into organising and recruiting. Unions generally contract
their requirements to a major call centre operator.

Opportunities with IT
Unions are exploring ways of using computers, e-mail and the internet to
communicate, boost campaigning capacity, link delegates, and speed
organisational change. The wildly enthusiastic welcoming of the internet as a tool
of empowerment for workers, as a great leveller between corporations and
workers internationally, is far from realisation – but it is an increasingly useful tool.
The union representing hydro-electricity workers in Quebec attracts new members
via its website.

Dealing with change
The pursuit of membership growth through delegate education, workplace
organisation, and recruitment at non-union sites is a demanding and difficult
process of change that is often compounded by shrinking revenues.

The AFL-CIO has established an Organisational Change Working Group to help
union locals maintain representational effectiveness and shift resources into
organising. The Working Group also examines ways in which national unions can
promote change at the local level.

Successful change requires a well-focused strategy, efficient and professional
resource management, and vigorous leadership. Leading overseas unions and
peak councils employ executive assistants with broad political, administrative and
managerial skills to work with and advise senior leadership on strategic issues.

Many General Secretaries of unions in Great Britain have attended a strategic
planning and management course at Cranfield University. A number of unions,
such as the AEEU in Great Britain, a large electrical and engineering union,
routinely assess the performance of officials and staff.

Scrutinising traditional approaches
Union structures and methods are being overhauled in response to falling
membership in traditional industries and occupations, and the necessity to attract
and involve young people, women, shift workers, and casuals. Decades-old

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branch structures and meeting procedures are giving way to communications
through technology and other flexible approaches driven by issues and the new
preferences of members. Surveys are used to identify issues, test the
effectiveness of unions, and fine-tune campaigns. Updated media and marketing
methods are also emerging.

Economies of scale
Unions are negotiating with hardware manufacturers and internet service providers
for discounted purchasing and leasing deals, free internet access, website
development, and training and advisory support.

Unions in the US have negotiated a 50% discount on telephone usage in union
offices, Swedish unions have bargained with suppliers for discounted electricity,
and there are a range of union discount and credit card arrangements.

(Box piece - A survey by the TUC in Great Britain concluded that 5 million workers
want to join a union but don‟t know how, and have never been asked.)


UNISON embraces change
UNISON is Britain‟s largest union, with 1.3-million public sector members – but it
must recruit 150,000 members each year just to stand still. UNISON strategically
reviewed its operations as an initial step towards change. As part of that review
union surveys revealed that:

   one in four members do not know their shop steward;
   four in ten workplaces do not have a shop steward; and
   people will join a union if asked, providing the union offers reasonable service.

UNISON responded to these challenges by becoming an “organising union”, and
by streamlining its operations using new technology. It established a call centre
called UNISONdirect, which is contracted to a major call centre company. The call
centre is seen as the key to providing more cost-effective advice and information,
and releasing resources for delegate education and organising.

UNISONdirect is a free-call service and is still being developed. It currently
receives about 1,500 calls per week. Three main numbers give access to shop
stewards, members, and membership inquiries. Agents can generate a
personalised membership application form based on information given by callers,
and a 999 service deals with urgent cases – dismissal, suspension, disciplinary, or
harassment. The call centre also provides information on union services.

If a member needs immediate help, the call centre agent contacts an organiser
through a pager or e-mail. Eventually, organisers will be armed with hand-held
computers, giving them access to e-mail, facsimile and the internet. Defining the
level of industrial advice that can be given by the call centre is a dynamic issue,

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but the long-term objective is to ease the servicing and advisory workload of

The union also uses the outgoing call facility to handle „customer care‟ calls - to
check that the member received the expected level of service.

UNISON has also harnessed new communication technology, offering free internet
access to members under an arrangement with POPTEL, a non-profit internet
service provider.

The internet and e-mail will be used to communicate with and organise members,
and UNISON will eventually provide all delegates with internet links and e-mail
addresses. The package for officials and delegates currently on the drawing board
includes internet and e-mail access, facsimile facilities, and bulk-leasing hardware

T&G on the cutting edge
The Transport and General Workers‟ Union in Britain (T&G), which has 6,000
branches, has negotiated bulk deals on PCs, established a union intranet,
established IT training centres, and includes computer training in delegates‟
courses. This is not seen as an end in itself – more as one facet of a strategy to
equip delegates for servicing and bargaining, and therefore free resources for

The T&G also offers a 24-hour legal hotline, which will be extended to an open-line
on all union services when training and referral arrangements are complete. The
legal hotline receives more than 61,000 calls each year.

Campaign websites
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions is developing a password-
protected campaign website, which will allow unions from many nations to share
up-to-the-minute information on actions, results, and suggested improvements
during campaigns. The site will act as a rapid-response clearinghouse,
dramatically cutting the time taken to transmit information to a multitude of
organisations during a campaign, when speed is often critical.

The International Chemical, Energy and Mineworkers' union is also actively
exploring the campaign potential of the internet, running successful corporate
campaigns via its website against major mining and manufacturing firms operating
across the globe.

Politicising the web
The Canadian Labor Congress (CLC) uses its political action website to mobilise
members for community campaigns, including those run by affiliated unions.

The CLC posts Fax Your MP campaigns on the website (faxes are more effective
than e-mail because recipients do not necessarily read e-mail). A participant
chooses a campaign from the topics listed on the website and then enters their
name, address, and postcode. The database automatically calls up the electorate
associated with the postcode, generates the relevant MP‟s name and address and

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places it on a standard letter. The letter can be amended before being faxed via
the internet.

The user is invited to leave an e-mail address, which is loaded on to a database.
At the end of the action, letters are sent to each participant, thanking them and
advising them of the campaign outcome.

The CLC also posts a “union-made” database on the website so browsers can
identify goods   and    services   provided  by   unionised    workplaces.


Harnessing IT
Unions can make great gains by maximising technology to improve operations,
communications, campaigning and political activity. Linking delegates by e-mail
and the internet can be a powerful industrial tool.

Providing professional service
Unions are membership service organisations. As well as focussing on collective
strength, unions must also provide professional service, and maintain effective
communication, with individual members. Call centres and information technology
can be developed to better meet individual service demands.

Efficiencies yield resources
The increased emphasis on education and organising requires funds and staff.
Resources can be released by improving the efficiency and management of union
operations, and finding cost-effective ways of providing information, advice and
services such as through a call centre.

Managing Change
Union amalgamations aimed to create significant cost savings through the sharing
of resources. This objective remains relevant, as many unions proceed to
streamline union operations. But the process of change must continue with a
greater emphasis on education and organising – and the realignment of resources
in order to make the new priorities a reality. Careful planning and union
management will be vital.


1. Sharing ideas, exploring potential, building expertise
Many unions are well advanced in the use of information technology. Their
experiences, and ideas for the future, should be better shared amongst affiliates

   holding a Unions and Technology Conference; and
   building expertise at the ACTU so that information, advice and strategic
    direction on the use of information technology can be gathered and shared
    amongst unions.

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Specific initiatives for consideration by the Conference, the ACTU and individual
unions must include the development of:

   modern membership systems;
   union websites;
   websites to support political and corporate campaigns (domestic and
   on-line campaign coordination and reporting;
   on-line vocational learning for members;
   on-line education for officials, delegates and members;
   union intranet capacity, containing a data-base of awards and agreements;
   communication with members and delegates;
   delegate networks, including international links;
   communicating industrial information to mobile organisers and delegates;
   on-line surveys and union news;
   hardware, e-mail and internet access requirements and proposals for bulk
    purchasing and leasing; and
   education in IT for officials and delegates.

The proposal for an integrated hardware, software training, website development,
internet access, and entertainment package under consideration by the ACTU
Executive would promote all of these objectives.

2. Examining call centres
Unions should explore the potential of call centres to more professionally and cost-
effectively deal with:

   simple queries from members;
   membership inquiries, particularly in response to marketing campaigns;
   requests for information about services and membership benefits;
   requests for basic industrial advice, with possible referral;
   outgoing calls, including surveys and polling;
   follow-up calls to new members, as well as those who have resigned; and
   responses to campaigns about specific issues.

Call centre operations could be developed in a staged process, allowing adequate
training of staff and development of the information data-base, testing of
effectiveness, and a slow build up of investment as the benefits are demonstrated.

3. Developing a union call centre
The ACTU call centre should be developed and marketed as a contact point for
the community with unions. There is currently no well-known, easy method for
non-union employees to make contact with a union. A collective union call centre
could offer potential new members, particularly those in employment growth areas,
basic information about unions via one telephone number. Reliable telephone
transfer arrangements to each union would be required for industrial advice and
for existing members.

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The ACTU call centre also has great potential for use in organising campaigns,
developing delegate networks, and has been a successful weapon in retaining
members through cost-effective contact with those who have resigned but have
new jobs in the same industry.

To develop the call centre will require union agreement, assessment of funding
needs, and professional management, development and marketing.

4. Modern union management
Unions should ensure that modern management methods are adopted. The
achievement of membership growth is linked to the most efficient use of
resources. Many unions use modern management methods, however all unions
should establish criteria and methods to assist, such as:

   strategic planning of union operations and objectives;
   modern financial and budgeting methods;
   staff management which encourages the achievement of clear goals;
   standards to be met in the provision and marketing of membership services;
   industrial bargaining and campaign objectives;
   communications and IT planning;
   identification of membership growth targets;
   levels and quality of union education to be achieved;
   democratic membership and delegate involvement, reviews of delegate
   means to plan campaigns and measure outcomes against objectives;
   modern and proven membership record systems; and
   analysis and appraisal by an external organisation.

In the search for additional resources, Australian unions should ensure that post-
amalgamation union structures are closely aligned with the objectives of
democratic membership involvement, industrial effectiveness, and the efficient use
of funds.

5. Building union management expertise
Unions should put in place a strategy to educate officials in union management.
Officials must have the skills to assert control over finances, assets and staff to
ensure growth, and to manage a process of change.

NewTUTA already conducts a union management course which has been
completed by 70 officials. When unions review their education plans they should
increase the number of senior officials attending union management education.

6. Collective support for change
The new ACTU Organising Centre should develop the expertise and resources to
help unions review their operations and allocate resources to growth. Help could
be offered with:

   strategic reviews and planning of union operations and objectives;
   financial planning and resource allocation;

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   staff management methods;
   union education planning;
   establishing an organising section; and
   managing the process of change.

Collective knowledge of modern and professional union practice could be built in
this manner, drawing upon international experience, and what is working in
Australian unions (as well as what is not working).

NewTUTA has helped some unions review operations, develop strategic plans,
and develop better financial and management methods. Advice of this nature can
be invaluable during a process of change, especially when reallocating resources
for education and organising.

7. Regional approaches to union organisation
Unions need to evaluate the potential for collective approaches to union
organisation in regional Australia. Individual unions are often unable to resource
an organiser and/or a union office in regional areas, however a group of unions
can. In areas such as north-eastern NSW and south-eastern Queensland, where
there is rapid population growth and economic development, union activity can be
built by cooperation.

Overseas unions are co-locating in regional towns and areas in an attempt to
achieve economies of scale and release more resources for organising. Trades
and Labor Councils could facilitate such change in Australia.

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(Lead in sentence) Unions speak for Australian workers. But our voice can be
made louder and more persuasive by articulating what unions stand for through
modern campaign and media methods, by building alliances with community
organisations, and by developing international unionism.

Campaigns based on the issues of concern to workers are the mechanism for
recruiting, organising and generating membership involvement in unions. Union
education raises awareness of the issues, builds membership activity, and teaches
campaign tactics.


Political and industrial campaigns are a platform for growth
People become involved in unions because of the industrial, political and social
issues that unions promote, making campaigns about issues that are relevant to
employees the essential tool in workplace recruiting and organising.

Some Canadian unions describe their approach as „social movement unionism‟ -
unionism that is oriented towards social change, as well as collective bargaining
interests. Union organising and education has a strong focus on the issues in local
communities, democratic involvement and a decent living standard. A campaign
about balancing work and family life is not only part of organising, but it tells the
community much about unions and what they stand for.

Using the media, marketing unions
Leading unions put resources into maximising media coverage so they can
communicate their values and objectives, and reach out to unorganised
employees. Positive media coverage generates sympathy towards union
membership, which is especially important among strategic groups such as casual
employees, young people and low-paid workers. Positive media also counters
anti-union sentiment.

In the Netherlands, the FNV, one of the peak union councils, markets unions
under a common logo, theme and images, and promotes a single union phone
contact number.

Alliances advance social issues
Broad alliances formed on issues of common concern are the building blocks of
effective campaigns. Unions create relationships with churches, political leaders,
and community groups around common aspirations and community action.

In Canada, these alliances have held informal inquiries into social justice issues
such as workplace exploitation, human rights, indigenous rights, low pay and
poverty. The CLC and community groups cooperate each year to publish an
alternative government budget.

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Contemporary employment issues
Many contemporary labour market changes have been subject to recent regulation
in the European Union. Advancements include protection for fixed-term contract
employees, equal treatment for part-time workers, the regulation of working hours,
and standards underpinning contracting-out.

The Blair Government is legislating a raft of improvements in employment
standards, including 18 weeks paid maternity leave and increases in paid annual
leave. Danish unions make employers pay a premium to fixed term contract
employees. In Norway, labour hire and fixed term contract employment is strictly
controlled. Norwegian unions are also attempting to help employees balance work
and family life through a „time account‟ – allowing employees to work less hours
when children are small but more hours later in life.

Workplace bargaining needs an effective safety net
Workplace bargaining – without an effective safety net – has been the cornerstone
of the wages system in Great Britain, Canada and the US for some years. The
inevitable consequence has been widening inequality between those with
collective bargaining power and those without. In the US and Great Britain
minimum wages are on the rise in response to this inequality.

The union and non-union wage differential (about 30% in the US and Canada) is a
potent incentive for de-unionisation and anti-union employer strategy. Union
members face unfair competition because low wages give non-unionised
workplaces a competitive edge.

Unions see several responses are important. A safety net of minimum wages set
at decent levels is essential to protect the low-paid and reduce wage competition,
as is the organising of non-union sites which compete with unionised workers.
Strategies used by some unions include pattern bargaining, others attempt to
achieve industry outcomes.

Strengthening international standards
The ICFTU and the International Trade Secretariats are working to enforce the
core labour standards of the ILO as fundamental human and union rights that will
underpin all economies. They are attempting to link international trade agreements
to labour and human rights standards.

The scope for international union cooperation is broadening through the use of
campaigns against multinationals and agreements that set basic industrial
standards and rights for those employed anywhere in that company‟s worldwide

New campaign tools
In the US, unions are fine-tuning campaign techniques, which include encouraging
pension fund investors to marry the best rates of return with investments which are
in the interest of employees, job creation, and organising rights. US unions say
this form of corporate campaigning has great potential.

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Other methods of corporate campaigning include the lobbying of shareholders and
directors, applying political and legal pressure on companies and appealing to
consumers and customers for support. Other popular campaigning tools include
the use of the internet, community surveys, and political polling techniques.

Canadian bargaining eliminates ‘freeloading’
In Canada (and some States in the US), when a site is organised and a collective
agreement certified, all employees join the union or effectively pay a bargaining
fee to the union, ensuring that all workers take responsibility for, as well as share
the benefits of, collective representation.

Union political support
Unions are building more effective lobbying and political campaign capacity. The
AFL-CIO and individual US unions are developing full-time political activists and
voluntary member activists who lobby candidates at local, State and national
levels. In the last US Congressional elections the proportion of voters who were
union members leapt from 14% to 25% - which had a significant bearing on the


“For us, organising and recruiting members is not an end in itself. Why do we want
people to join? It‟s to get better wages for young people, better security and living
standards, better health and safety, equal rights for women – for these objectives,”
Carol Phillips, CAW Director of Education.

Social movement unionism
The striking feature of Canadian unionism is the high level of political activism and
the vigour and quality of debate, born of a long-standing commitment to education
and efforts made at many levels to involve members in their unions.

Canadian Auto Workers strategist Sam Gindin describes social movement
unionism as “making the union into a vehicle through which its members can not
only address their bargaining demands but actively lead the fight for everything
that affects working people in their communities and the country”.

There is no single model for involving people, but the common factor is the
willingness of unions to embrace a broad spectrum of issues. A union in Quebec
has workplace „social delegates‟ who are active in social issues such as drugs,
homelessness, and gender politics.

Community-based organising tactics include working with ethnic groups that are
working in exploited situations, such as outworkers. People see that unions are
concerned with the wellbeing of the whole community, not just the industrial

Organising among young people is based on their social and employment
concerns. There are education projects teaching young people about the labour

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movement, leadership, and self-organising so they can take these skills back into
the community.

In organising, therefore, there must be space for innovation and variety because
bargaining claims do not cover the field of employee concerns. The most powerful
issues in many organising campaigns are dignity, respect and justice – a sense of
power against the arbitrary decisions of the employer.

TUC Campaign and Communications Department
The TUC in Britain has a Campaign and Communications Department which has
10 staff and is responsible for publications, media, political lobbying, campaigns,
special events, and running TUC conferences. The department was established in
1994 following a decision to elevate campaigning and political activity.

Recent campaigns have focused on labour market issues such as employment
insecurity and agency workers (labour hire), and have targeted groups such as
young people. The department uses community relationships to build support for

An array of media and campaign tactics is used – research studies, journalist
briefings, articles placed in newspapers, talkback radio, telephone helplines,
slogans, leaflets, and political lobbying. The TUC also helps affiliates with media

Helplines using call centres have been popular – a recent pensions helpline took
150,000 calls in a week.

The Blair Government and ‘Fairness at Work’
The Labour Government in Great Britain has introduced major changes to
employment law, known as „Fairness at Work‟ some of which is based on
standards set by the European Union. They include:

   enhanced unfair dismissal laws;
   the legal right to union representation during disciplinary and grievance
   equal rights for part-time employees with full-timers;
   18 weeks paid maternity leave (benefiting 85,000 women each year);
   reasonable time off for family purposes, including protection against dismissal
    for exercising such rights;
   a minimum wage (benefiting two million employees, including 1.4 million
    women and 1.3 million part-time workers);
   a 48-hour limit to the average working week;
   an increase in annual leave from 2 and 3 weeks to 4 weeks for everyone;
   special working time protection for employees under 18 years of age, including
    minimum breaks and time between shifts;
   Works Councils for EU companies with more than 1,000 employees; and
   the preservation of established wages and employment standards when work
    is contracted-out. The application of these rights to agency workers (labour
    hire) will be investigated.

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Unions in Great Britain have secured important agreements with labour hire
companies. In Europe, new regulations have been drawn up to stop discrimination
against employees on fixed-term contracts, and to stop abuse by employers using
successive fixed-term contracts. Regulations for agency workers are next.

Trends in Canadian bargaining
Canadian unions have been negotiating improvements to working hours, equality
for women, and seeking a better balance between work and family life. Bargaining
shorter working time, both as a way of creating jobs for younger workers, and
improving the quality of workers‟ lives, has been done through a variety of means

   reductions in overtime;
   shortening weekly hours;
   bargaining early retirement packages; and
   increasing vacations and leave provisions.

Although shorter working time is sometimes contentious, members seldom want
longer hours once shorter hours are established. The CAW estimates that several
thousand jobs have been created in the auto industry because of bargaining for
working time reductions and improved paid leave arrangements.

Unions have also bargained for equality.         During the 1990s unions have

   equal pay clauses covering nearly 20% of unionised workers (up from 1% in
   re-evaluation of female dominated low pay job categories;
   improved pay and benefits for part time workers;
   flexible hours of work for members with family care responsibilities;
   maternity leave and parental leave and benefits;
   protection against sexual harassment; and
   employment equity clauses dealing with the hiring and promotion of women.

Building membership diversity and involvement
The CLC Women‟s Committee advocates a goal for unions to build a model of
organising which increases the diversity of unions and reaches workplaces and
communities difficult to organise.

The model is intended to build union strength and is based on the following

   promoting membership diversity by changing union structures, employing staff
    from different backgrounds, ensuring democratic involvement, developing
    leaders from amongst women, workers of colour, Aboriginal workers, workers
    with disabilities and gays and lesbians;
   making sure that education programmes and approaches to organising
    incorporate the promotion of diversity and meet its objectives, including the
    training of women and others as educators;

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   building lasting community relationships, running joint campaigns with
    community organisations;
   using organising processes which build the leadership and involvement of
    workers of colour, Aboriginal workers, women, and young workers; and
   applying innovative forms of membership, such as associate membership for
    home-workers, which provides a basis for contact, involvement and limited
    forms of service.

The CLC Women‟s Committee convenes a forum each year to develop specific
collective bargaining priorities and claims for women.


Speaking for all employees
Unions are in a unique position to act as a voice for employees on a broad range
of social, economic and industrial issues. Modern unions must make the most of
new research methods, surveys, the media, cutting-edge technology and
communications, campaigning and organising skills to stay relevant and reach a
new audience.

Beating the conservatives
Australian unions face hostile conservative governments nationally and in some
states. The conservative governments have applied skilful communications
strategies in an attempt to legitimise:

   labour market deregulation;
   attacks on unions;
   legislative attacks on awards and collective bargaining;
   individual contracts; and
   unashamed bias towards employer interests.

In such an environment, unions must compete in public debate as effectively as
possible and win support for employee and union rights.

Using every means available
To advance the union position and build membership, unions will need to continue
to develop improved campaign and pressure tactics. Political education of
members, building community relationships, turning international union links into
practical industrial support, corporate campaigning – these are all central to a
successful future.

Decent standards
The labour market regulations which are evolving in Europe represent a better and
more decent way of protecting employees during the process of economic change
than that offered by the advocates of deregulation.

The spread of labour hire and contract work in Australia speaks of the need for
decent minimum standards similar to Europe. In Australia, the turnover of
companies in this field has grown 30% in the last five years; by 2008 the „industry‟

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is tipped to be worth a massive $75 billion. Unions must find alternative ways to
tackle an employment system that undercuts wages, and which operates outside
traditional award and union structures.


1. Building campaign capacity
Unions must develop enhanced campaign capacity. Successful campaigns
generate membership involvement and achieve outcomes. The achievement of
bargaining claims, organising drives and workplace strength rests to a
considerable degree on effective campaigning. Campaign capacity needs to be
developed on a range of fronts:

   research, planning and coordination;
   strategic targeting of employer weaknesses;
   education of delegates, activists and officials;
   building relationships with community organisations;
   conducting social justice inquiries;
   building networks of supportive academics and lawyers, who can offer strategic
    advice, research, and media comment;
   media and communications, message development;
   telephone polling, surveys;
   developing international support;
   websites and internet usage;
   targeting individual politicians about their support/opposition for an issue;
   applying legal, industrial and political pressure;
   seeking to influence investors in a targeted company, mobilising shareholder
   appealing to customers of a company or consumers of a product; and
   protests and rallies.

Successful organising campaigns in the US and Canada apply all of these
techniques as necessary during corporate campaigns, organising drives and
political campaigns – but significant resources and tight coordination is required.
Professional research is often commissioned. Membership activism is the key

In Australia, resources need to be built at several levels – collectively through the
ACTU and Trades and Labor Councils, and in individual unions:

   unions should develop staff skilled in campaign methods, and build capacity in
    all techniques. Comprehensive campaign tactics will be essential during
    organising drives;
   the ACTU should coordinate unions and build the infrastructure for improved
    union campaigning; education, research, networks of individuals and
    organisations, campaign websites, coordinate media strategy, develop the call
    centre; and

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   the TLCs should continue to develop relationships with community
    organisations, help build delegate and activist networks amongst unions,
    mobilise people, handle media, promote campaign issues, and coordinate
    industrial support.

During large campaigns, unions could allocate staff to work in a team based at the
ACTU and/or at the TLC to maximise coordination and impact. Campaigns need to
be targeted and prioritised. Too many campaigns will not work.

2. Tapping into the media
Unions should more effectively use the media by:

   making better use of market research;
   formulating media messages;
   undertaking media training;
   encouraging members and delegates to speak in addition to officials;
   promoting union achievements;
   encouraging others who will support the union position in public debate; and
   actively generating positive stories about unions.

Resources are required. Unions need to employ skilled media staff. The ACTU
needs to build further expertise and capacity, and assist unions where possible.
Basic media skills need to be part of union education.

3. Wages policy
The ACTU should maintain the Living Wage as a key component of wages policy.
It is important for low paid workers, it is vital to the maintenance of a relevant
safety net, it ameliorates the widening inequality between the market and minimum
rates, and it represents what unions stand for to the community.

Unions should also support additional options in the wages system:

   the capacity to include wage levels in awards that exceed the safety net
    minima, to reflect the market or agreement in a particular industry;
   the ability to bargain collective agreements binding more than one employer;
   the capacity to settle collective agreements for multiple workplaces which are
    the component parts of a corporation.

This flexibility would provide greater fairness and equality and reduce the ability of
employers to compete on the basis of inferior wages. The experience overseas
demonstrates the destructive nature of widening inequality and wage competition.

4. The changing labour market
The ACTU and unions should continue to develop the Employment Security and
Working Hours campaign, and develop options for changes to awards promoting a
balanced and secure working life. The European Union initiatives in the areas of
contracting-out, hours of work, part-time rights, fixed-term contracts and labour
hire should be closely examined for ways in which they can be adapted to
Australian circumstances.

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Practical initiatives, including organising and recruiting, should continue to be
developed around the following priority areas:

   improved rights for casual and part-time workers;
   balancing work and family responsibilities;
   stopping the under-cutting of wages and conditions in contracting-out and the
    use of labour hire;
   union organisation of contracting and labour hire employees;
   reducing excessive hours of work and creating job opportunities;
   improving employee rights and influence over hours, breaks and rosters;
   occupational health and safety;
   preventing employer abuse of fixed term contracts;
   protecting employee wages and accrued leave against company collapse and
    scams; and
   portability of entitlements such as long service leave.

5. Maintaining relevance with members
Staying in touch with the views of employees, and tailoring union services and
claims to those views, needs to be a key component of union operations and
planning. It is a key part of a growth strategy. A top down approach, based upon
an agenda driven by the views of officials, with poor membership involvement and
low levels of activism, and with little campaign penetration is a formula for
decreasing union relevance.

A number of methods and criteria can be applied:

   membership surveys, polling, focus groups;
   modern communications;
   responsiveness to employee aspirations, for example by testing support for
    salary packaging as part of bargaining claims;
   linking membership to vocational advancement, skills and learning, for
    example by the development of a course through Deakinlink; and
   developing a credible and authoritative voice on industry and vocational

6. International unity
Union involvement in international union activity needs to be enhanced on the
basis of:

   support for human rights and union rights;
   the pursuit of core labour standards;
   support for the development of effective and democratic unions;
   union to union relationships;
   the development of international union bargaining strategies;
   the promotion of union organising rights throughout an international
   the development of delegate and activist networks;
   the pursuit of breaches of ILO conventions by Australian governments and

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   the development of corporate campaigning;
   industrial support during disputes; and
   strengthening international union organisation, particularly in the region.

This will not be achieved simply by attending conferences. Strength will be built
around practical initiatives, particularly between unions and between delegates.
The 1998 MUA dispute was a pivotal event in international union communications,
campaigning and industrial support. It demonstrated what can be achieved, and
should be built upon.

International delegate links on the internet, corporate campaigns, staff exchanges
and overseas work experience, sharing information about bargaining and
organising, and cooperative strategies to influence investment, are all important
emerging areas of international activity.

7. Sharing the responsibility as well as the benefits
The ACTU should generate discussion within unions about the merits of a
Canadian-style bargaining fee to be paid by non-unionists who benefit from union
bargained agreements. Wage increases and other improvements apply equally to
all covered by an agreement. There is fairness in the distribution of benefits, but
not in recognition of how they were achieved. A bargaining fee as a term of a
certified agreement, or as a consequence of legislative change should be

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The following table provides a brief profile of the key elements of a modern union,
consistent with the objectives of this report. It offers an opportunity for union self-
assessment. The objectives can be approached over a period of time, and are not
in any particular order of priority.
                                                                   Level of Implementation
                                                              0%    25%      50%   75% 90% +
1.      Workplace organisation
         Strategy to increase membership and strength
            in existing union areas
         Delegates, activists and collective structures in
            all union workplaces
         Union education for all delegates in recruiting,
            bargaining, grievance handling, organising and
            campaign tactics
         Education at all levels linked to organising and
         Comprehensive industrial rights and resources
            for all delegates
         Increased finance for union education, bargain
            for PEL
         Established delegate networks
         Reviews of delegate effectiveness.
2.      Organising and growth
         Strategy for union growth in non-union areas
         Finance and establishment of specialist
            organising section
         Specialist organisers and coordinator
         Target, meticulously research and plan
            organising strategy
         Delegates, activists as part-time and voluntary
            specialist organisers
         Staff exchanges with overseas unions
         Status of specialist organising lifted
         Organising Works trainees employed.
3.   Industrial and membership services
         Clear achievable industrial claims based upon
            membership views, contemporary labour
            market issues, capacity to involve employees
         Emphasis on union role in improving living
            standards, income and employment security,
            balancing work and family life, safety at work,
            career aspirations
         At the forefront of bargaining outcomes
         Detailed knowledge of industry issues
         Constructive dialogue with employers wherever
         More cost-effective servicing through a call
         Delegate knowledge of services and capacity to
            advise members
         Vocational, career development courses
            through the union
         Package of attractive membership benefits
         Modern marketing of services and benefits.

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                                                                  Level of Implementation
                                                             0%    25%      50%   75% 90% +
4. Comprehensive campaign capacity
       Focus on activating members, activists and
         delegates – attracting and involving new
       Union education in campaign methods and
       Research, planning, strategic analysis capacity
       Relationships with community organisations,
         lawyers, academics
       Use of pressure through investors, media,
       Campaign web-site
       Use of a call centre
       Maximisation of union cooperation.

5.   Media, communications, technology
        Access for delegates, organisers to email,
            internet, union industrial data-base
        On-line union news, industrial information,
            union services
        Responsiveness to membership views and
            diversity - use of market research, surveys,
        Use of media, generating positive union and
            membership stories, deliver clear messages
        Credible voice on industry issues, in public
        International links and networks via the internet
            and email
        Union education in information technology.

6. Democratic membership involvement and activism
       Activism through education, campaigns
       Union structures which enable membership
       Involvement of members in debate about the
         need for growth
       Membership support for union objectives
       Delegate conferences, networks and forums for
       Methods for identifying activists, developing
         future leaders
       Temporary and voluntary specialist
         organiser/recruiter project.

7. Strategic planning and management
        Set growth objective
        Staff and resources shifted into growth
        Research, analyse and review the
           circumstances confronting the union
        Union strengths and weaknesses identified
        Union structures and operations changed to
           meet challenges
        Set clear and realistic objectives in key areas –
           industrial, delegate development, union
           education, organising and growth

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                                                                    Level of Implementation
                                                               0%    25%      50%   75% 90% +
            Priorities established, realistic timeframes,
             phased introduction of changes
            Resources allocated to meet objectives
            Coordinate industrial, education and organising
            Outcomes tested against objectives
            Education for officials in union management
            Assessment and review by an outside

8. Financial planning
        Budget for the achievement of union objectives
        Funds allocated to education and specialist
        Modern and effective membership system
        Expend and reconcile funds against objectives
        Regular test of expenditure against budget
        Waste eliminated.

9.    Staff management
          Union objectives communicated to staff at all
          Support for objectives and the process of
          Individual responsibilities and goals clearly
          Lines of supervision and accountability
          Regular reviews of performance, support
          Goals for staff education and development

10.    Collective union activity
          International union to union links, support for
             ILO core standards, human rights
          Support for collective organising efforts,
             collective defence of delegates and activists
          Participation in joint union offices in regions
          Joint organisers with other unions in areas
             where appropriate
          Projects with ACTU Organising Centre
          Participation in collective policy development
             and campaigns.