Since the onset of the global recession in 1974, and especially since the Fraser government came into office in 1975, the Australian trade union movement has been subjected to considerable pressures. Some of these are old pressures intensified, some are new ones. The trade union movement has been forced to respond to economic pressures of restricted employment opportunities and significant unemployment. It was subjected to pressures to reduce real wages, especially by means of increased taxation and by a reduction of the "social wage". The Fraser government openly stated its aim to reduce the share of the national income going to wages and salaries and to increase the share going to profits. Perhaps the most significant of all was the (ongoing) ideological campaign against the trade union movement. It set out to blame the trade union movement for many of the economic difficulties that the country faces. It depicted unions as selfish and lacking concern for the effect of their actions on the community a t large. It portrayed unions as immensely powerful and as abusing these powers.
Recommended CitationTaft, Bernie, The Trade Unions? Where are they today?, Australian Left Review, 1(79), 1982, 1-4.