The changing roles of public sector unionism

This article outlines changes in the character of Australian federal public service unions, from in-house staff associations to constituents of the broader union movement. The extent to which the strategies adopted by the union that covers most Australian federal public servants, the CPSU, are part of the agenda for change in the broader union movement or a reaction to changes in public sector administration is investigated. We conclude that although the changes have been in step with the broader union movement, the constant trigger has been government policy. Most significantly, New Public Management policies have imposed particular pressures to the point that the CPSU is now struggling for survival. The impact of the union renewal strategy, and the adoption of the organising model to underpin this strategy, remains uncertain.

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