Peak Union Campaigning: Fighting for Rights at Work in Australia

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Abstract

Many peak unions are in crisis, their traditional reliance on economic or political exchange with employers and the state undermined through falling union membership and the collapse of national bargaining systems. New methods, chiefly as agents of mobilization, and new sources of power, including community organizations, are often advanced as solutions. In Australia, where trade unions faced a fundamental and immediate threat from a national government after an election in 2004, the ‘Your Rights at Work’ campaign signalled a shift in peak union strategy. Although this campaign unseated the government in 2007, its legacy is unclear: reviving the power of peak unions and conceptualizing the means to do so remain difficult.

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