Trade union membership has generally declined since 1992. From August 1992 to August 2011, the proportion of those who were trade union members in their main job has fallen from 43% to 18% for employees who were males and 35% to 18% for females.
There was, however, a small rise in trade union membership during the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) period (2008-2009). This was largely driven by an increase in the proportion of male employees who were trade union members which was 19% in August 2008 and 20% in August 2009.
As for the unions themselves…
The ‘Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association’ (SDA) — aka “the Shoppies” — is one of the handful of unions who can legitimately challenge the AWU for the title of ‘Australia’s Worst Union’. The SDA boasts that it’s the largest trade union in Australia with more than 230,000 members, or a little less than 13% of total union membership. The AWU (Australian Workers’ Union) claims a membership in excess of 135,000, or 7.5%. According to their own estimates, the membership figures for other large unions in Australia are:
• Australian Nursing Federation (ANF): 200,000
• Australian Education Union (AEU): 180,000
• Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU): 160,000
• Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU): 130,000
• Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU): 120,000
• Australian Services Union (ASU): 120,000
• United Voice (the union formerly known as the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union or LHMWU): 120,000
• Communication, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU): 100,000
If the bean-counters at the ABS are correct and the membership estimates given by them are in fact accurate, then Australia’s ten largest unions contain over 80% of all union members in Australia. Of course, both sets of figures may be slightly rubbery…
As for Australia’s biggest and bestest union, it functions as a sinecure for a clique of older, ‘conservative’ Catholic blokes; appropriate given its largely young, female membership. For the last 6,000 years or so, its National Secretary has been Joe de Bruyn: “a Dutchman who hates dykes” as Gough Whitlam once reportedly quipped. When he’s not desperately fighting for the rights and entitlements of young retail workers, Joe can sometimes be found addressing the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), on such pressing issues as the need to keep teh gheys from marrying, and generally railing against “aggressive secular humanism” and the pursuit of Godless, self-centred paganism.
Speaking of faggots, Mooselems and ANZACs, ACL boss Jim Wallace’s 2011 contribution to the debate was equally memorable: “Just hope that as we remember Servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for – wasn’t gay marriage and Islamic!”
And oh yeah.
What’s a Haymarket?