Drawing on recent literature from overseas, this article identifies four alternative forms of employee representation, two union-based and two non-union. Using these categories, it argues that there is in Australia a significant and growing 'representation gap'. To some degree, this gap is not new. The system of compulsory conciliation and arbitration that dominated Australian industrial relations for decades before the 1990s delivered significant support for union forms of representation, but they were less than perfect in their effect. Furthermore, nonunion forms of representation in this earlier period were poorly developed. The gap, however, widened dramatically during the 1990s. The well-known decline in union membership and contraction in the coverage and scope of collective bargaining and state regulation constitute the core of the problem. Less acknowledged, however, is the failure of new non-union forms to deliver effective representation. It is contended that the representation gap should be treated as an urgent public policy issue by Australian governments.
Labour and Industry: a Journal of the Social and Economics Relations of Work Vol. 12, Issue 2, p. (1)-31