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Are Australian trade unions part of the solution, or part of the problem?

Professor David Peetz writes in Policy Online (17.2.15):

‘An effective response to the workplace and national problems and tendencies we experience requires a new way of doing things and of thinking about things—a new vision and new policy approaches. Unions, other social movements representing women, the underprivileged, community groups and the environment need to be drawn together with intellectuals into a major conversation if an alternative vision is to be developed, articulated and implemented. The prominence given to Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century is not so much a reflection of a great new revelation as it is of the fact that the book ‘suits the mood of the times’ (Quiggin 2014). Piketty’s moment is a moment for progressive social movements at large.

In Australia the almost forgotten Accord between unions and the government of the 1980s was many things, some of which are now irrelevant. But most importantly it was an alternative vision of the economy, a challenge to the liberal market orthodoxy of government departments of the day. The need to develop an alternative vision of what the economy, society and workplace should look like is greater now than ever before.

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