The primary purpose of this Research Report is to identify the factors contributing to the status of industrial democracy in Australia today. On the basis of this research, I propose strategies that the Labor Government can pursue to enhance the development of industrial democracy in this country.
I begin by describing the historical and philosophical origins of industrial democracy. Concurrently, I highlight the major elements of this complex concept through discussion of definitions and forms of industrial democracy.
In the second chapter, I provide an international perspective to facilitate identification of the factors that contribute to the growth of industrial democracy in any country. I survey industrial democracy in seven countries and illustrate the shaping influence of history, culture, the economy, technology, relations between employer and employee groups, Government, legislation and education. In the conclusion to this Research Report, I use these overseas developments as benchmarks for evaluation of the Australian situation.
In chapters three to six I deal specifically with industrial democracy in Australia. Initially, an historical overview is given (chapter 3) which highlights the predominant influence of Labor Governments in the development of industrial democracy in this country.
The historical theme is continued in chapter four where I survey the findings and recommendations of a number of reviews which were initially commissioned by various Governments to examine areas other than industrial democracy. This chapter reinforces the major role of the Labor Government in developing industrial democracy. It also evidences the emerging consensus in Australia concerning the need for consultation and participation in decision making in every sphere of social and industrial life.
The contrasting views on industrial democracy of employee and employer groups in Australia is discussed in chapters five and six respectively. Additionally, in these chapters, I identify the structural and educational implications of industrial democracy for both groups.
In the concluding chapter (chapter 7), I identify the forces that are either restraining or helping the growth of industrial democracy in Australia today. In describing these forces I compare them with those existing in the countries surveyed in chapter 2 of this Research Report. Through this comparison, the implications for the Government are brought into sharper focus.
The major conclusion of this Report is that Australia lacks the comparative advantages of the countries surveyed earlier in the Report. Industrial democracy in this country is being developed without adequate environmental, legislative or structural support. This places increasing pressure on the Labor Government to expand its educational and informational role if the growth of industrial democracy in this country is to be maintained.