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Parties to the Award Australian Trade Union Archives Home Page
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Parties to the Award

Federal industrial relations legislation

Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904

Industrial Relations Act 1988

Registered organisations

Amalgamation trends
Federation of trade unions
Central co-ordination
One Big Union
The push to 'super unions'

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One Big Union (continued)

With state trades and labour councils operating as state branches, the new Australasian Council of Trade Unions named as its objective 'the socialisation of industry'. One method it proposed to use to achieve this was by 'the closer organisation of the workers by the transformation of the Australasian Trade Union Movement from the craft to an industrial basis, by the establishment of one union in each industry'.[57] This method of closer organisation remains in the ACTU Constitution today, rephrased as 'the development of the Trade Union Movement towards an industrial basis' and the 'amalgamation of unions where practicable to establish one union in each industry or sector'.[58]

The 1947 ACTU Congress saw the essence of this rephrasing and also the name change to the Australian Council of Trade Unions. At this Congress, another amendment was made to the ACTU Constitution, stating another means of closer organisation to be 'grouping of unions in their respective industries'.[59]

Ten years later, the ACTU Executive was restructured, taking these industry groups into account. The Constitution of the Executive - 'A President, two Vice Presidents and a Secretary elected from and by Congress and two members appointed by each State Labor Council', unchanged since 1927, was altered at the 1957 ACTU Congress. It was decided to halve the number of State Labor Council representatives on the Executive and add instead six representatives from the industry and service groups: Building; Food and Distributive Services; Manufacturing; Metal; Services; and Transport. In 1967 the Australian Workers' Union finally agreed to affiliate with the ACTU. In deference to its size and strength, the AWU was given its own group and position on the Executive. In 1979 and 1981 the ACTU's respective amalgamations with the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations, and the Council of Australian Government Employee Organisations led to each being given a group and executive positions.[60] Changes were also made to the industry groups in 1983.

In 1985 the number of industry groups and corresponding positions on the ACTU Executive was extended to eighteen:

  1. Australian Government
  2. Australian Workers' Union
  3. Banking and Finance
  4. Building
  5. Education
  6. Food and Liquor
  7. Health
  8. Local Government
  9. Manufacturing
  10. Metals and Mining Group I
  11. Metals and Mining Group II
  12. Retail
  13. Services Group I
  14. Services Group II
  15. State Government
  16. Technical Services and Printed Communication
  17. Transport/Distribution I
  18. Transport/Distribution II[61]

The ACTU Executive was further reshaped at the 1993 Congress to accommodate the massive restructuring of the trade union movement through amalgamations of the 1990s and late 1980s. The 38 member Executive and smaller Executive Sub-Committee was replaced by a 81 member Council and smaller Executive. The new Council representation was based on 21 'Union Groups' (either single unions or groupings expected to become so eventually)

  1. Australian Municipal, Administrative and Clerical Services Union
  2. Construction, Forestry and Mining Employees Union
  3. Communications/Electrical/Plumbing Group
  4. Distribution, Warehousing/Manufacturing
  5. Education Group
  6. Finance
  7. Nurses
  8. Health Services Union of Australia
  9. Australian Liquor, Hospitality & Miscellaneous Workers Union
  10. Automotive Metals Engineering Union [sic] / Confectionery Workers & Food Preservers Union of Australia
  11. Maritime Federation
  12. Public Sector
  13. Public Transport Union
  14. Transport Workers Union of Australia
  15. Shop Distributive & Allied Employees Association
  17. Printing & Kindred Industry Union [sic]
  18. Police & Emergency Services Group
  19. Media & Entertainment Group
  20. Professional & Managerial Group
  21. General Unions Group[62]

Each group was to have one Council delegate per 80,000 members or part thereof.[63] It was noted that the representation would be varied as required to take account of proposals and outcome of union amalgamation initiatives.[64]

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© 1994 Print Edition pages 10 - 12, 2002 Online Edition
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