Outsourcing in electricity generation and union responses

Australia has witnessed a rapid growth in outsourcing over the last decade with the public sector being the clear leader in these initiatives. Explanations of the rise of outsourcing tend to emphasise economic and human resources management factors and neglect the political dimension. Here it is argued that outsourcing forms part of a broader neo-liberal agenda which includes labour market deregulation and public sector reform. This can be seen clearly from the experience of the state of Victoria and in particular its electricity generation industry where a carefully implemented program of downsizing and outsourcing played upon existing divisions in the workforce eliciting a pragmatic, survival oriented response from the major unions involved in the outsourcing of the maintenance of coal mining and electricity generation plant.

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