Behind the changing pattern of industrial disputes

International Employment Relations Association
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Employment Relations Record, 2005, 5 (2), pp. 25 - 41
Issue Date:
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What is behind the unprecedented decline in industrial disputes in Australia, as well as elsewhere? It is the argument of this paper that in addition to economic drivers, such as declining inflation and declining trade union membership, and possible legislative and administrative changes, there have been attitudinal and perceptual changes over the last couple of decades that have acted to accommodate and reinforce the decline in disputes. These changes have involved a movement away from collectivist- and interventionist-oriented policies towards individualist- and market-oriented policies. But why did attitudes change? It is suggested that a number of crucial historical circumstances and defining events contributed to the gradual fall from grace of collectivist thinking. These events include the rise to economic prominence of anti-collectivist Asian tiger economies, the failure and rejection of collectivist policies in China and the USSR and the implementation of anti-union policies in many countries, coupled with a drive towards privatising many State-owned assets, during and after the 1980s.
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