Australian Council of Trade Unions

Australian Council of Trade Unions

Infobox Union
name= ACTU
country= Australia
affiliation= ICFTU
members= ~1.8 million (2006) [- [ Membership info from web site] .]
full_name= Australian Council of Trade Unions

founded= 1927
office= Melbourne, Victoria
people= Sharan Burrow, President
Jeff Lawrence, Secretary
website= []

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is the largest peak body representing workers in Australia. It is a council of 46 affiliated unions representing about 1.8 million workers. [- [ Membership info from web site] .]


The ACTU was formed in 1927 as the "Australian Council of Trade Unions". It was one of the earliest attempts by trade unions to apply the principles of One Big Union earlier explored by more radical syndicalist unions like the CNT or revolutionary industrial unions like the IWW.

In the Australian case, agitation for One Big Union occurred from 1911 from two different sectors: from the revolutionary Australian section of the IWW and from the pro-arbitration Australian Workers Union (AWU). At that time the AWU was the largest single Australian union. In 1918 after the collapse of the Australian IWW, a group of militant trade unions (which were opposed to the AWU) attempted to form One Big Union under the name Workers Industrial Union of Australia (WIUA). The hostility between the WIUA and the AWU prevented the formation of One Big Union in Australia. It was the attempts of Stanley Bruce's federal government in 1927 to dismantle the Australian Industrial Relations Commission which impelled the Australian trade unions to form a national council.The ACTU's Australian trade union "peak body" precursors include state labour councils like the Victorian Trades Hall Council (originating in 1856 as the 'Melbourne Trades Hall Committee'), the Labor Council of New South Wales (originally formed in 1870 as the 'Sydney Trades and Labor Council') and the Inter-Colonial Trade Union Congress (formed in 1879).

The ACTU has not achieved the ideals expressed for One Big Union: it remains a council organisation, but it does however represent the majority of Australian trade unions. At its formation in 1927 the ACTU was only seen as representing blue collar trades unions, and only managed to achieve the support of trades unions. From 1948 peak bodies of white collar associations existed, and from 1969 peak bodies of government employees. The white collar bodies were: the Council of Professional and Commercial Employees Association (1948), which became the Council of White Collar Associations (1954), which amalgamated with the Salaried Employees Consultative Council of New South Wales (1954) to become the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations (ACSPA) in 1956. The government employee bodies were: the Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organisations (1969) which became the Council of Australian Government Employee Organisations (CAGEO) in 1975. The ACTU successfully integrate these bodies in 1981. After 1981 the ACTU was generally viewed by the Australian media and public as the organisation representing all workers' organisations.The ACTU and Labour Councils have often united Australian working class opinion behind certain initiatives like the eight-hour day or compulsory arbitration. In the early 1980s this unifying impulse created an accord between government, capital and labour on wages and prices. The ACTU retains a close relationship with the Australian Labor Party: former ACTU President Bob Hawke went on to become the leader of the ALP and then Prime Minister of Australia. Other former ACTU Presidents who went on to become members of Federal Parliament are: Simon Crean (president 1985-90), Martin Ferguson (1990-96), and Jennie George (1996-99). It must also be noted that the November 2007 election win by the Labor Party, saw the election of a number of union officials to the parliament (Commonwealth) including Bill Shorten (Australian Workers Union) and Greg Combet (former ACTU Secretary).

In the late 1980s and early 1990s the ACTU was influential in a move to forcibly amalgamate smaller unions into so called "super unions". The ACTU's plans envisaged 20 super unions organised on an industrial basis. While a large number of amalgamations occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s (in part under the influence of changed industrial law), there are still a large number of unions, and union coverage is often organised by historical amalgamation, not by industry.

Current Campaigns

Recently the ACTU's main focus is its public criticism of the Howard Government's new WorkChoices legislation, including an advertising campaign [- [ Media comment on campaign] ] and public rallies. [- [ Rally information from Campaign website] ] This campaign is known as Your Rights at Work, [ [ Your Rights at Work website] ] and has been considered an outstanding success in regards to making Industrial Relations an important election issue by both marketing companies [ Campaign Results ] and even Joe Hockey MP, the Federal Workplace Relations Minister, who said "This is the most sophisticated political plan that we have seen in Australia.". [ ABC transcript of radio interview with Joe Hockey ] One of the rallies was called "Fill the "G" " for which the ACTU booked the Melbourne Cricket Ground and broadcast the event to other similar rallies throughout the country, it aimed to fill the ground with protesters, an aim which it did not achieve. [ [ Article from "The Age"] ] While it may not have achieved this aim literally, more than 50,000 people is still an impressive crowd, [- [ Article from "The Age"] ] however it was not as successful as the previous national rally which had a reported attendance of 500,000 around Australia. [url= Thousands protest against IR laws Australian Broadcasting Corporation November 15, 2005] [ Protesters engulf Melbourne CBD The Age November 15, 2005 Cites 175,000 as Melbourne crowd size.] The ACTU has also recently launched a service by which workers can join their applicable union directly through the ACTU. This self titled "one stop shop" for union membership is Unions Australia. [ [ Unions Australia website] ]

Current member organisations

*Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, Australia
*Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union
*Australian Education Union
*Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers
*Australian and International Pilots Association
*Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association
*Australian Manufacturing Workers Union
*Australian Maritime Officers Union
*Australian Nursing Federation
*Australian Professional Footballers' Association
*Australian Rail Tram and Bus Industry Union
*Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation
*Australian Services Union
*Australian Workers Union
*Australian Writers' Guild
*Blind Workers Union of Victoria
*Breweries & Bottleyards Employees Industrial Union of Workers WA
*Civil Air Operations Officers Association of Australia
*Club Managers Association Australia
*Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union of Australia
*Community and Public Sector Union
*Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union
*Finance Sector Union
*Flight Attendants' Association of Australia
*Funeral and Allied Industries Union of NSW
*Health Services Union
*Independent Education Union of Australia
*Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union
*Maritime Union of Australia
*Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
*National Tertiary Education Union
*National Union of Workers
*Police Federation of Australia
*Rugby League Professionals Association
*Salaried Pharmacists Association of WA Union of Workers
*Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association
*Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia
*Transport Workers Union of Australia
*Union of Christmas Island Workers
*United Firefighters Union of Australia
*Western Australian Prison Officers Union of Workers
*Woolclassers Association of Australia

ee also

*1998 Australian waterfront dispute
*Australian Industrial Relations Commission
*Australian labour law
*Australian Workplace Agreement
*Collective bargaining
*Common law contract (industrial relations)
*Compulsory arbitration
*Employer association
*Enterprise Bargaining Agreement
*Fair Pay Commission
*Federal award
*Industrial union
*Industry superannuation
*Picket line
*Protected industrial action
*Strikebreaker (Scab)
*State award
*Trades Hall
*Trade Practices Act
*Transport Workers Act 1928
*Unprotected industrial action
*List of unregistered Australian unions
*Workplace Relations Act 1996
*Australian Industrial Relations Law Reform 2005


External links

* [ ACTU website]

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