Workers in an organization
A union is a membership of workers in an organization whose sole purpose is to articulate the interest and welfare of workers in the organization through the collective bargaining process. Governments enactment various labor laws that define the procedures to be followed during negotiation that is the rules of engagement. Depending on how these laws are formulated, they can either be facilitative in so far as the union is concerned or oppressive. Union movement in Australia
Union movement started in New South Wales in 18th Century in the form of protests by convicts, as those workers were known then, for better working conditions (Australia Council of Trade Unions 2010). The first attempt to form a union in Australia was in the early part of 19th century that is 1833 when workers from Tolpuddle met with a view to forming a union to agitate for their rights (Victoria Trade Hall Council, 2010). For agitating to form a union, these workers were arrested and charged with administering an illegal oath and were quickly and quietly convicted only to be released in 1836 when they received a free pardon from the King.
Indeed this was the beginning of the establishment of unions as they are known today. These unions were suppressed as per the Masters and Servants Act of NWS that provided for the imprisonment of servants and wages forfeited for refusal to work or for destruction of property. As the acts shows, at that time workers were known as servants with very little benefits, if any, and agitation was quickly suppressed as some masters were in charge of courts and government.
Hence convicts could not receive what could be termed a fair trial as the jury was composed of wealth land owners who stood to lose if the demand of the laborers succeeded and the government was sympathetic with land owners hence the suppression of the movement. This did not deter workers from agitating for their rights as they formed informal unions that made a breakthrough in 1855 with some success that resulted in the launching of an eight hour day in Sydney.
After this, unions were henceforth tolerated that culminated in the formation of the Victoria Trades hall Council in 1859 whose first meeting was attended by 2000 people, and this was the beginning of the establishment of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (Victoria Trade Hall Council 2010). Real trade union development occurred in 1871 when the Trade Union Act was passed in UK that allowed registration of unions and that indirectly influenced the Australian government which commenced to tolerate unions in line with the developments in UK.
Prior to this act registration of unions in UK was illegal. Upon ushering in of tolerance, unions started to participate actively in political activities that resulted in the formation of the first federal Labor Government in 1904 (Australia Council of Trade Unions 2010). Although progress has been made in the trade union movement, however there were attacks on unions by both the government and employers and the worst attacks are noticed to have taken place during wars and depression.
During this periods the government is known to demand pay cuts as it happened during the 1929-33 depression when wages were cut by 10% in the private sector and 20% in the public and indeed in such situations, the government could not tolerate strikes as this could frustrate the economic recovery process. Support or tolerance of unions in Australia is at times a reflection of the government in power. For example in 1996, the government in power then introduced workplace legislation designed to reduce trade union power and simultaneously increase that of employers(Frost 2007).
This so called, the Workplace Relations Act 1996, introduced individual contracts and was designed to replace contracts bargained collectively by trade unions. However in 2008,labor government banned, workplace agreement, also known as individual contracts and introduced Fair Work Laws in the place of Workplace Relations Act that enhanced collective bargaining rights (Australia Council of Trade Unions 2010). Conclusion In conclusion it can be said that support of trade unions is dependent on the government of the day in which case labor government is perceived to be more supportive.
About Trade Unions. Article in Australia Council of Trade Unions 2010. Available at < http://www. actu. org. au/About/Tradeunions/default. aspx> accessed on May 19, 2010 Frost, Stephen ( October 9, 2009). Union Busting in Australia: Individual Contracts Versus Collective Bargaining. Available at <http://amrc. org. hk/node/326/print> accessed on May 17, 2010. History of the Union Movement. Article in Victoria Trade Hall Council (2010). Available at <http://www. vthc. org. au/inside-trades-hall/history/history-of-the-union-movement/index. cfm> accessed May 17, 2010