This chapter has two main aims. First, it seeks to describe the changing pattern of labour regulation in Australia at the national level over the past 15 years or so, specifically from 1990 to 2005. This is important in two ways. On the one hand, as Chapter 1 showed, the national level of regulation is likely to be a central factor in explaining the pattern of labour regulation in different industries, especially the changes over time in the pattern of regulation. Knowing the national changes helps to explain industry changes. On the other hand, because the national system of labour regulation is likely to be important in every industry reported in the subsequent chapters of this book, it is more efficient to describe these national changes in one place at the beginning of the book- this information is common to all chapters and its presentation here reduces repetition. The second aim of this chapter is to demonstrate the importance of industry as a unit of analysis in the study of labour regulation. Aggregated analysis at the national level, as important as it is, obscures profound differences between industries in the practice of employment relations. At the same time, more 'micro' studies of enterprises and workplaces, which have clearly become essential in recent times, neglect both key industry-level forms of regulation and vital trends that are common across individual enterprises. Industry-level studies, like those presented in this book, offer significant theoretical, policy and pedagogic opportunities. Before presenting the industry-level studies in the subsequent chapters, these opportunities will be surveyed in more detail.
Evolving Employment Relations: Industry Studies From Australia p. 17-34