Industrial Disputes during the Rudd-Gillard Era: Comparative Perspectives and Realities

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Employment Relations Review, 2013, 19 (1), pp. 23 - 46
Issue Date:
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This paper examines industrial disputes during the Rudd-Gillard political era. Claims made in the public arena implying a steep rise in the volume of disputes are tested. The analyses of other academic researchers are updated in the light of a longer run of data being now available. Among other things, it is found that during the entirety of the Rudd-Gillard era the (per-quarter) volume of disputes was proportionately larger during the second half of the era than during the first half. Also, during the time that the Work Choices Act was operative, the (per-quarter) volume of disputes was around half of that experienced during the Rudd-Gillard era. A different perspective on these data is gleaned, however, when making longer-term comparisons. Two preceding political eras are compared: the Howard Era of 1996-2007 and the Hawke-Keating era of 1983-1996. In its entirety, the Rudd-Gillard era registered a far lower volume of disputes than that registered in the earlier eras. The long term (three-decade) decline in the volume and frequency of disputes is noted and a number of hypothesised explanatory factors are discussed.
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