Australian Bureau of Statistics
1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2006
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/01/2006
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Table 6.64 shows that 379,800 working days were lost in 2004, a decrease of 14% from 2003. Over the same period the total number of employees involved in industrial disputes fell by 30% to 194,000. While there were more disputes in 2004 than in 2003 (692 compared with 643), the average number of working days lost per dispute decreased, from 683 in 2003 to 549 in 2004.
Table 6.65 shows that the number of working days lost per thousand employees decreased from 54 in 2003 to 46 in 2004. The coal mining industry had the highest number in each year from 1999 to 2004, although the 295 working days lost per thousand employees in 2004 was considerably less than the number recorded in 1999 (1,432). The construction industry had the second highest number of working days lost per thousand employees in 2004 (224), followed by other mining (118). The industries which recorded the largest decreases between 2003 and 2004 were other mining (down from 330 to 118) and metal products, machinery and equipment manufacturing (down from 215 to 72).
TRADE UNION MEMBERSHIP
A trade union is defined as an organisation, consisting predominantly of employees, whose principal activities include the negotiation of rates of pay and conditions of employment for its members. In August 2004 there were 1.8 million employees who were trade union members in their main job, a 1% decrease on the number recorded in August 2003. As shown in table 6.66 this represents 23% of all employees. The public sector has a higher rate of unionisation, with 46% of employees having trade union membership, compared with 17% in the private sector. A slightly higher proportion of men than women are trade union members (24% compared with 22%).
Trade union membership in Australia experienced growth throughout much of the 20th century, peaking at 61% in 1962 (graph 6.67). Between 1962 and 1970 trade union membership declined rapidly. This was followed by increasing membership during the 1970s. However, since then the proportion of employees who were trade union members has steadily declined.
Some of the factors contributing to the decline in trade union membership include the changing workplace relations environment and the changing industry composition of the labour market. These changes include declines in employment levels in traditionally highly unionised industries and the emergence of industries that are not highly unionised. Another factor in the decline in trade union membership is the increase in part-time and casual employment. These types of employment have historically been less unionised than full-time employment.
The level of trade union membership varies considerably across industries, with the Electricity, gas and water supply (52%), Education (44%), Government administration and defence (37%), and Transport and storage (36%) industries being the most unionised in 2004 (graph 6.68). The least unionised industries were Agriculture, forestry and fishing (5%), Property and business services (7%), Wholesale trade (8%), and Accommodation, cafes and restaurants (8%).
Between 1999 and 2004 most industries experienced a drop in their rate of unionisation. The largest declines occurred in the more unionised industries, with the proportion of employees who were trade union members falling in the Communication services industry (from 48% to 29%), Mining (from 35% to 17%), and Finance and insurance (from 28% to 17%). The Electricity, gas and water supply, Cultural and recreational services, and Agriculture, forestry and fishing industries were the only industries to experience an increase in the proportion of trade union members.
This page last updated 24 January 2007
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