"All side and no screw, like a bank clerk" used to be a familiar billiard-room quip. It was an apt description of a prestigious but underpaid occupation in which an employee was obliged to remain unmarried until his salary reached a level that allowed him to maintain a family "in the manner befitting his association with the institution employing him". Things began to change in 1919, when a group of frustrated Victorian bank clerks dared to form the Bank Officials' Association. It was, however, by the nature of its members, a conservative and timid association and remained so until after World War II when it began to develop into a considerably more militant trade union.
This book traces the development of that association — now the Australian Bank Employees' Union — between 1919 and 1973, focusing on the changing nature of industrial relations in the Australian private banking industry during that period. Significant influences in the transformation were the qualities of union leadership, changing societal attitudes towards the profession of banking and its employees, the increasing urbanization of banking, and the type of recruit entering the industry. These changes are analyzed, as are the notable events of the period affecting the banking industry — the anti-nationalization hysteria of the late 1940s, the abolition of Saturday morning banking, the amalgamation with other state-based banking unions in the early 1960s, and the union's successful use of direct industrial action.
One of the first histories of white-collar unions in Australia, this study incorporates a degree of "management perspective" through the author's access to the ANZ Bank archives, which adds a dimension lacking in most trade union histories. The book will be welcomed by practitioners, students, and teachers in the field of industrial relations.