A New Province for Law and Order
The End of The Closed Shop
The tide has turned.
It is my sincere hope that this year we have witnessed
events which will lead to the demise of the closed
shop---that the vision expressed in the theme
of the H R Nicholls Society's sixth conference in Canberra
in March 1989 will soon become a reality, namely---
"No Ticket---No Start---No More".
The role of unions in our industrial system is central
to the current debate on industrial relations reform
in Australia. As a matter of history our industrial
relations legislation---both State and Federal---has encouraged the formation of trade unions.
That legislation has granted unions monopoly rights
of coverage for crafts and industries and in turn has
granted union representation rights for employees whether
they are members of the union or not. Trade unions
alone can be parties to certified agreements and awards,
therefore guaranteeing their dominant position and
role in our industrial relations system. Indeed this
year the Federal Government has enhanced the role of
unions in its amendments to the Industrial Relations
Act 1988 by introducing a new division for certified
agreements. Those amendments have firmly embedded
the role of relevant unions in workplace bargaining
for it is the union, not the employees, with whom the
employer must deal, if workplace agreements are to
be certified under the new Federal provisions.
While the Labor Governments have strengthened the
monopoly role of unions, Liberal Governments have dramatically
changed the role of unions. In 1991 the New South
Wales Liberal Government completely overhauled its
industrial legislation with provisions permitting enterprise
agreements with employees, voluntary unionism, prohibition
on preference arrangements and anti-victimisation provisions
providing remedies for employees who have been victimised
because they do not belong to an organisation of employees.
Recently we have seen the New South Wales Government
introduce a "Code of Practice" in the building industry
following the Giles Royal Commission. That Code has
made it clear that "No Ticket---No Start" in the
building industry will no longer be tolerated.
In recent weeks the new Victorian Liberal Government
has introduced what is probably the most controversial
piece of industrial legislation that we have seen in
our lifetime. Again the dominant features of that
legislation are the ability for lawful agreements to
be made between an employer and employees, absolute
freedom of association including voluntary membership
of trade unions and the prohibition of preference and
discrimination against non-unionists. When introducing
the new Employee Relations Bill 1992, Mr Philip
Gude, the Minister for Industry and Employment, announced:
- "Any form of compulsory unionism, closed shop arrangement,
preferential clauses or other arrangements which infringe
the fundamental freedom to choose whether to belong
to industry associations will be prohibited. Victorians
will henceforth have a choice whether to join a union,
employee organisation or industry association or not
and they will be protected against victimisation for
exercising that choice."
And this week in Tasmania, the Liberal Government
has introduced to Parliament a Bill to facilitate enterprise
agreements with employees and the introduction of voluntary
unionism into the only State in Australia where State
awards currently permit arrangements for closed shops.
In the Federal sphere the Coalition's industrial relations
policy "Jobsback" has proposed an end to our compulsory
arbitration system. The coalition believes:
- "That the single most important industrial relations
reform needed in Australia is to allow employers and
employees to enter into direct contractual arrangements
with each other regarding pay and working conditions
without the mandatory intervention of trade unions,
employer organisations or industrial tribunals."
"Jobsback" proposes the complete freedom for individuals
to belong to a union of their choice. The monopoly
representation rights of trade unions will be ended,
however more fundamentally the Coalition believes that
all Australians have a fundamental right to work and
that closed shop arrangements, preference clauses and
compulsory arbitration infringe that fundamental right.
"Jobsback" therefore proposes that all necessary legislative
and other steps will be taken to eliminate such practices
wherever they might occur in Australia.
In turn the Liberal and National Party Oppositions
throughout the States of Australia have similar policies.
Therefore depending on the electoral success of the
Coalition in the elections to be held in the near future,
and perhaps as importantly, the ability of any Federal
Coalition government to pass its legislation in the
Senate, then the laws in Australia may at last outlaw
the closed shop.
Unfortunately passing laws may not mean the end of
closed shops. Like all laws they are from time to
time broken, and like many laws that regulate social
behaviour their success depends to a significant extent
on the attitude of those affected, and the relative
strengths and weaknesses of the position of those concerned.
This is particularly the case in relation to closed
shops, where legislative prohibition has not necessarily
guaranteed an end to the practice or guaranteed the
protection of the rights of individuals.
A recent dispute in Western Australia has demonstrated
the fragility of laws intended to end close shops and
has highlighted the determination of the union movement
to force its will in areas where closed shops have
previously existed or where de facto closed shops remained.
More importantly it may have changed public opinion
in Western Australia firmly against closed shops.
In January 1992 a mechanical fitter called Philip
Beales was employed by Hamersley Iron Pty Limited ("Hamersley")
to work at its Tom Price mine. At interview Beales
asked whether he had to be in the Union and was told
that Hamersley would prefer him to be in the Union.
Subsequently, Beales advised Hamersley that he would
sort out that issue on site. He commenced work at
Tom Price and the issue of Union membership did not
arise for some time, although Beales was expected to
attend paid union meetings.
Towards the middle of this year the Metal and Engineering
Workers Union ("the Union") had levied their members
to raise money for the ACTU Fighting Fund to assist
workers affected by the APPM dispute at Burnie in Tasmania.
Ironically it was the collection of this levy that
led to the discovery by the Metal Workers shop steward
that Philip Beales was not in the Union. In an effort
to collect the levies a list of employees in Beales'
work area was put on the noticeboard indicating those
employees who had paid the levy. Beales name was on
the list as being unpaid.
Beales approached his supervisor about whether he
had to be in the Union and was told that it was not
a requirement, however Hamersley preferred people to
be in the Union. The supervisor made further enquiries
and then told Beales that Hamersley could not discriminate
against him because he was not a union member. That
would be illegal. This position in relation to union
membership had been Hamersley's position since anti---
discrimination laws were introduced in Western Australia
On 12 June 1992 Beales was approached by his shop
steward in relation to the levy and was finally asked
whether he was in the Union. When he replied "No"
he was told by the shop steward that it was compulsory.
The metal workers convenor---the most senior unpaid
union official on site---came to see Beales later that
day and told Beales to get in the Union and he refused.
The convenor told him he was a parasite and a bludger
and that if he was not in the Union he'd be sacked.
He gave Beales a few days to think it over and took
the matter up with Hamersley.
Later that day Hamersley received a call from the
Metal Workers organiser based in the Pilbara who told
Hamersley they had a problem with this "idiot" that
won't join the Union. Hamersley replied that the law
of the land now, is that he didn't have to join the
Union. The organiser responded with words that I couldn't
possibly repeat, at least not in this company. With
an expletive commencing with the same letter of the
alphabet as my polite substitute word, the organiser
said "forget the law of the land". He went
on, and I quote from one of the affidavits before the
Supreme Court of Western Australia:
- "We know that HI terminate these people. They have
always done so in the past. We go on strike and you
apply to the Commission to get us back to work and
then you dismiss the idiot as an undesirable.
- We want someone from the Company to talk to this idiot
and tell him the way that HI have handled these matters
in the past and that he should join the Union. We
don't want to stop a multi million dollar business
for the sake of one (expletive---forget) idiot
... and what's more if we lose so much as one minute
because of this guy then we will not have him back
into the Union."
Hamersley maintained its position that it could not
discriminate against Philip Beales, and when he finally
refused to join the Union the following Tuesday, strike
action commenced first at Tom Price, and then throughout
Hamersley's operations in the Pilbara---strike
action which so significantly raised the profile of
the closed shop issue that it may have heralded the
end of closed shops at least in Western Australia,
if not across the country.
Before dealing with the events that unfolded it is
necessary to examine how the attitudes to union membership
of those involved had been moulded since the opening
up of the iron ore industry in Western Australia in
the late 60's.
Prior to 1960 the former Arbitration Court in Western
Australia granted preference to unionists on a fairly
conservative basis, although predominantly for State
More powerful provisions were inserted in awards,
and more frequently in the early 1960's. In 1964 a
test case considered the jurisdiction of the Commission
to grant preference of employment or compulsory unionism.
The Commission in Court Session in the Ice Cream
Manufacturing Case (44 WAIG 91 and 44 WAIG 513)
determined that the Commission had power to grant preference
to unionists, to require workers to join unions, and
more horrifically, to require employers to dismiss
non-unionists. Whether, and in what manner, and to
what extent, that power was to be exercised would then
depend on the exercise of the Commission's discretion
in any particular case.
The Commission in Court Session decided to grant a
preference clause in the Ice Cream Manufacturing
Case. In doing so it took into account that the
applicant union had a record of good industrial behaviour,
that the union had made proper endeavours to establish
good relations with workers and employers alike in
industries which it covered, and took the view that
as unions have to accept the burden of ensuring that
awards of the Commission are complied with, then that
task is able to be carried out more readily and effectively
if a significantly high proportion of workers are unionists.
The Commission in Court Session believed that the
preference clause to which I shall refer shortly, did
not impose an unreasonable obligation on any employer
or worker, and that it protected the position of those
workers who had a genuine conscientious objection to
union membership and who held the relevant certificate
The unanimous decision of the Commission in Court
Session continued to justify the proposed clause by
- "(That) it does not require the dismissal of a non-unionist
until such time that he has had a reasonable opportunity
to become a unionist or to obtain exemption from union
membership." (44 WAIG 513 at 514)
The Commission then varied the award concerned to
include a preference clause that required non-unionists
to join unions and to remain union members while employed,
except where they hold or have applied for conscientious
objection certificates. The clause then provided:
- "Where the secretary of the union has notified an
employer that a non-unionist ... has failed or refused
to comply with those provisions, that non-unionist
shall not be retained in employment by that employer
for more than 24 hours to the exclusion of any well
conducted unionist who is employed by, or who applies
for employment, with that employer and who is adequately
experienced and otherwise competent in the work performed
by that non-unionist ..."
The preference clause, including this draconian provision,
became accepted as a standard in Western Australia
and proliferated in awards and agreements of the Western
It was hardly surprising therefore, that in the first
award in the Iron Ore industry made in January 1967
applying to Hamersley together with other companies
in the industry, that Commissioner Kelly decided to
insert this form of preference clause. The employers
opposed the preference clause, however Commissioner
Kelly granted the unions' claim because it was likely
to lead to industrial stability in the industry. He
- "In the present case it is important to point out
that some of the exhibits submitted by Mr Salmon suggest
strongly that industrial stability in this State was
a factor of some weight in securing the initial contracts
for the export of iron ore and that any interruptions
in the shipping of ore under those contracts could
well prejudice the gaining of further contracts or
the terms on which they are gained. It will, I think,
be apparent that it is in the best interests of all
those engaged in this industry that no such interruptions
should occur." (Goldsworthy Mining Ltd and Ors.
v Federated Engine Drivers and Firemens Union of Workers
of Western Australia (1967) 47 WAIG 22 at p.22)
Commissioner Kelly's reasoning is fascinating in the
light of recent events. It demonstrates that in the
late 60's the prevailing view was that industrial disputes
on union membership issues would be avoided by strict
provisions ensuring compulsory unionism.
Accordingly compulsory unionism became a feature of
the Iron Ore industry in Western Australia from its
inception. When the Industry Award was surpassed by
enterprise based agreements, Hamersley agreed to the
continued insertion of the standard preference clause
(52 WAIG 146). In addition it agreed to a provision
that required Hamersley to supply the senior shop steward
with details of new employees in order that the union
could ensure compliance with the preference clause.
In the 1974 Agreement the preference clause was replaced
by a new clause entitled "Union Membership" which strengthened
the closed shop arrangements (54 WAIG 524). The new
provisions required the employer to immediately dismiss
an employee who failed to join the union or who failed
or refused to maintain financial membership. This
dismissal was deemed under the provisions to have been
for misconduct. The new provisions no longer protected
those holding certificates of conscientious objection
from dismissal, although such employees while being
dismissed were granted the respect of not being "deemed"
to have been dismissed for misconduct.
These provisions continued until 1979 when the Liberal
Government of Sir Charles Court excluded preference
and compulsory unionism from the jurisdiction of the
Western Australian Industrial Commission. In addition
existing provisions in awards and industrial agreements
prescribing preference or compulsory unionism, such
as those in the Hamersley Agreement, were deemed to
have been deleted ( see Section 117(1)(f) and (g) of
the Industrial Arbitration Act 1979).
The union membership clause was therefore removed
when new agreements were made for Hamersley in 1982.
The 1979 legislation also introduced anti-discrimination
provisions in relation to union membership. Section
100 of the Industrial Arbitration Act 1979 made
it an offence for an employer to discriminate against
a person in his employment, or to refuse to employ
that person on the ground that he or she was not a
union member. The onus of proof lay upon the employer
to show that the person was not discriminated against
by reason of that person's non-union membership.
In May 1982 a shovel operator at Hamersley's mine
at Paraburdoo, Leslie Moffatt, resigned from his union,
the FEDFU. In the period leading up to his resignation
the unions had made it clear to Hamersley that union
members were likely to refuse to work with Moffatt
if he resigned and there was the probability of widespread
stoppages throughout Hamersley's mining operations.
Under union pressure Hamersley dismissed Moffatt,
because union members refused to work with him and
this threatened the viability of Hamersley's operations.
Hamersley was prosecuted under section 100 of the
Industrial Arbitration Act 1979 on the basis
that it had dismissed Moffatt because he was not a
member of the union. The prosecution was unsuccessful
and in his decision the Industrial Magistrate determined:
- "... I am satisfied that although the resignation
of Mr Moffatt from the union was one event in a chain
of events, it was not a substantial and operative factor
nor the predominant factor for the dismissal." (Stratton
v. Hamersley Iron Pty Limited No. 425 of 1982,
Industrial Magistrate K F Chapman Esq. SM. 24 January
In effect Hamersley escaped prosecution because Moffatt
had been dismissed because of the risks to its operation
caused by the threat of industrial action because of
the union membership issue, not because Moffatt was
not a member of the union.
The Moffatt case was only one example of the legislation's
failure. Many industries including the waterfront,
building and transport industries ignored the statutory
prohibitions on closed shops and in early 1982 Multiplex
Constructions erected "No Ticket-No Start" signs on
all its Perth building sites. The Liberal Government
in response decided to strengthen the legislation and
extensive provisions prohibiting discrimination were
introduced in the Western Australian Parliament in
late 1982. Large mining companies and employer associations
joined with the unions in opposing the new legislation
which passed into law in December 1982.
The Liberals lost the election in February 1983 and
the Labor Government then made a number of attempts
in 1983, 1984 and 1986 to remove the anti-discrimination
provisions and restore provisions allowing preference
and compulsory unionism. Each Bill failed in the Western
Australian Legislative Council.
In the decade since this anti-discrimination legislation
was introduced there has not been one single prosecution
under these provisions. This may surprise you, but
perhaps not when you appreciate the fact that the prosecutions
under these provisions are controlled by the Government,
and the Labor Government has been in power since 1983.
With this background it is perhaps then understandable,
but not excusable, why Hamersley was told to "forget
the law of the land" in June this year.
Hamersley was unmoved by this suggestion and its operations
were effectively closed by 17 June this year. However,
when Beales remained at work and the rest of Hamersley
went on strike he was not alone. Two of his workmates
were prepared to stand by him and remain at work.
As the strike progressed the number of employees who
were prepared to defy the union increased. For the
first time in Hamersley's history employees were prepared
to cross picket lines, for they said they had had a
gutfull of being ordered to take strike action over
this type of issue.
The bravery of these men and the attitude that they
displayed was probably one of the most important elements
in the whole dispute.
Hamersley sought a compulsory conference before the
Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission
on 18 June 1992, however after the conferences failed
to resolve the issue Commissioner Fielding issued orders
directing the unions and employees to cease industrial
action, and for employees to work in accordance with
their contract of employment and refrain from further
industrial action. But mass meetings on 20 June resolved
to remain on strike, and therefore defy the Commission's
orders. By this time picket lines had been placed
on Hamersley's operation.
On Sunday 21 June a handful of Hamersley employees
decided to obey the Commission's order by returning
to work and during the week that followed up to 15
people returned to work at Tom Price.
Scenes of the violence that occurred as these employees
crossed picket lines to go to work then received national
attention. The Commission could do little more to
assist as its orders had been disobeyed. The Western
Australian Minister for Productivity and Labor Relations,
Evonne Henderson MLA, intervened and called the union
and the company into discussions. Hamersley urged
the Minister to enforce the law; in turn the Minister
suggested alternatives including a proposal that Philip
Beales be considered a conscientious objector, pay
an amount equal to union dues to charity and be permitted
to return to work after a cooling off period.
On Friday 26 June---after some 10 days of strike
action---Hamersley moved to protect its business.
By this time a large number of ships were at anchor
off Dampier and the confidence of Hamersley's customers
in its ability to be a reliable supplier was under
question. With the dispute deadlocked and few other
avenues available for resolution, Hamersley wrote to
the unions and the union officials involved, warning
them of the damage that Hamersley was suffering as
a result of the dispute, that Hamersley held them responsible
for the interference with contracts with its employees
and purchasers of iron ore, and that it held them liable
for the financial loss it was suffering.
As is usual in this type of dispute, all levels of
politicians, senior union officials and others were
by this time offering suggestions to resolve the issue.
Federal awards were suggested as a means of escaping
the State law. Most suggestions from the unions simply
involved defying the law. More importantly however
the profile of the dispute was receiving enormous public
attention. Public support for Hamersley's position
was running high and in particular public opposition
to closed shops was quite apparent. Of greater concern
however was the fact that a dispute over one man's
refusal to join a union could cause such economic harm.
The headline of the West Australian on Friday 26 June
"Hamersley Strike Hurts Japan Trade"
Over that weekend union officials under threat of
legal action reconsidered their options. No doubt
they were receiving counselling at the highest level
from peak union councils and Labor governments. Under
strong pressure the unions recommended an immediate
return to work on Monday 29 June.
With their union tickets held high in their hands,
Hamersley's workforce returned to work that morning.
The strike was over.
But it wasn't. Philip Beales was at that time on
leave for he and his family had had to leave town.
However, as part of their resolution to return to
work, the unions had reserved their rights to take
industrial action if Beales returned to site.
The dispute wasn't over. It had merely moved into
the eye of the cyclone. The dispute would erupt again
if Beales returned to work.
This turn of events was one of a range of scenarios
that Hamersley had contemplated. On that Monday morning
a Writ was filed in the Supreme Court of Western Australia
against the unions and their officials based on a series
of industrial torts, including interference with contractual
relations and conspiracy. The Writ sought damages
from the defendants of $48,692,623.76, together with
unspecified damages. This amounted to the largest
common law claim even taken against unions in this
country. However more importantly than the damages
claim, the Writ also sought an injunction to prevent
future industrial action.
The Writ and Statement of Claim were served that day
and the following day. The return to work however
required a legal reassessment of the injunction application,
for normally injunctions are sought to curtail existing
industrial action. However the scene had now changed
for Hamersley's workforce had returned to work, but
had threatened further action if Beales returned to
Hamersley's legal team then devised a strategy to
seek an injunction "quia timet" to prevent threatened
Philip Beales was due to return to work on Friday,
3 July 1992. The injunction application came on for
hearing before Mr Justice Walsh of the Western Australian
Supreme Court on the day before, Thursday 2 July 1992.
Legal argument took most of the morning. The situation
was quite tense, for the prospect of further serious
industrial action was clear.
The unions opposed the injunction, although Hamersley's
prima facie case was gilt edged if not iron clad.
However the discretionary nature of the decision to
grant such an injunction was very much in the mind
of the Court, and the union's lawyer was arguing that
the injunction should be refused while further proceedings
in the Commission occurred.
There was one moment that I remember more than any
other during that hearing. The evidence before the
Court had clearly proved our prima facie case. However
there was no industrial action at that time, although
it was threatened. The union's counsel opposed the
injunction for no industrial action was then being
undertaken. He said:
- "... Your Honour, I would challenge the plaintiff
to produce any authority to demonstrate that a court
of superior jurisdiction has granted injunctive relief
of this kind when no industrial action is being undertaken
He then urged the Court to await proof that industrial
action had occurred.
As the union's counsel made this challenge I watched
the lips of our counsel recede. I could almost visualise
him whispering the words of Clint Eastwood, "Make my
day". Bob Meadows, our counsel and now Law Council
of Australia President, responded in a matter of fact
way, which is Bob's style. He said:
- "Now, my learned friend challenged me to produce an
authority which would suggest that when there was no
actual industrial action taking place, that an injunction
could be granted."
He then referred to a case in the Supreme Court of
Victoria between a company called JGK Nominees and
the Printing and Kindred Industries Union (JGK Nominees
v Printing and Kindred Industries Union (1976)
2 VIR 73).
That company had sought an injunction against the
PKIU because its members employed by various newspapers
had refused to accept copy produced by non-union members
employed by JGK Nominees. In support of its union
membership claims the PKIU had banned copy from advertising
agents like JGK Nominees. At the time the injunction
was sought there was no actual bans or industrial action
affecting JGK, but they were threatened.
JGK was successful and the Supreme Court of Victoria
granted an interlocutory injunction "quia timet", to
prevent threatened industrial action.
This turned the tide at the Hamersley hearing. This
legal precedent played a significant role in influencing
Mr Justice Walsh to grant the injunction for Hamersley,
for another Court had granted an injunction in similar
The irony is that JGK Nominees was an advertising
agency then controlled by Jeffrey Kennett, now Victoria's
Premier. Perhaps that was his first step in determining
the future role of unions in this country, a step taken
some 16 years ago. In any event, he helped "make our
The injunction was granted that day. Philip Beales
returned to work the following day without industrial
action, although I might add that persons unknown attempted
to burn down his house that night.
The injunction wasn't a first, it was at least a second
after Jeff Kennett's. It had, and continues to have,
an important influence at Hamersley.
The injunction restrains the unions and their officials
and convenors from taking steps to cause Hamersley
to breach Part 6A of the Industrial Relations Act
1979 by dismissing or threatening to dismiss Philip
Beales or any other employee who does not wish to join
the union. It also restrained the Defendants from
taking any action to prevent Philip Beales from returning
to work or to discriminate against non-unionists in
any way, including by:-
"advising, encouraging or inciting any Hamersley employee
from working in accordance with their contract of employment---namely taking strike action;
- doing any act which would damage Hamersley's business
as a miner, exporter and seller of iron ore."
The unions were stunned because the injunction stopped
them taking any action on this issue without risking
contempt of court.
There was an interesting event the night the injunction
was granted. After working out a few details concerning
the injunction at Hamersley House, such as the logistics
of serving orders in remote parts of the State, we
went to have dinner at the Garden Restaurant of the
Parmelia Hilton which is adjacent to Hamersley House.
There were only two tables occupied in the Garden
Restaurant that night. One was very quiet and the
other was very noisy. At the quiet one was the Deputy
Prime Minister, Brian Howe, and numerous public servants
and assistants together with the Minister for Productivity
and Labour Relations in Western Australia, Evonne Henderson
and her husband Jeremy who happens to work for the
Western Australian Trades and Labour Council. That
was the quiet table. The noisy one was occupied by
Hamersley's Managing Director---Operations and
some of his staff together with our legal team---
or at least those who weren't occupied serving the
injunction. I had to be restrained from presenting
a copy of the injunction to the Minister---for
she wouldn't enforce the law---and a real court
The period since the injunction has not been without
difficulty for Hamersley as the unions have sought
The "independents", which is Hamersley's description
of the employees the unions call "scabs", continue
to work for Hamersley and their numbers have increased.
The numbers have increased of course, because employees
are free to leave the unions for the injunction prevents
any action to prevent this.
The unions have tried, without any real success, to
take industrial action against Hamersley to pay them
Perhaps more importantly, the Lawrence Government
in Western Australia has reacted, although it has reacted
in the wrong way.
Initially, its response was to seek to introduce provisions
to prevent compulsory unionism and preference clauses,
and to remove the anti-discrimination provisions.
In turn, the amendments to the legislation were to
include provisions to recognise conscientious objection.
The Government claimed this would solve "problems"
like Hamersley's. These features were to be part of
a new bill to be introduced in the Western Australian
Parliament last month.
However the Lawrence Government changed its mind.
Employers in Western Australia, led by the Chamber
of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia, opposed
the changes and lobbied the Government to drop the
A well funded advertising campaign was launched.
Eventually even the "West Australian" newspaper wrote
an editorial saying that the proposed legislation was
Within weeks the Government announced an independent
enquiry into union membership issues, and the deferral
of its compulsory unionism legislation pending that
enquiry. That is the position today. The enquiry
is now on. Unlike the position of a decade ago, the
provisions to introduce preference and compulsory union
membership are now totally opposed by all major employer
associations in Western Australia, including those
in the mining, transport and building industries who
opposed the anti discrimination laws in 1982. The
tide has indeed changed.
An independent survey commissioned by the Chamber
of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia has demonstrated
that 78% of Western Australians oppose any form of
compulsory union membership. The Hamersley dispute
has clearly led to changes in community views. There
is no longer community support for closed shops and
the role of unions is under question.
This change in public opinion goes beyond Western
Australia. This is reflected in the editorial of "The
Australian Financial Review" of Tuesday June 23 1992
entitled "The Battle of Philip Beales".
- "... This dispute may be geographically remote, but
the issues at stake reverberate across the continent.
More than half of all Australian union members---thus
a quarter of all employees---are covered by closed-shop
- ... But the days of such deals are numbered ...
- The closed shop is ... coming to seem increasingly
anachronistic in a world in which individual rights
are being balanced against collective rights. Libertarians
on both sides of politics are promoting a range of
legislation both federally and in the State that protects
the individual against discrimination.
- The decision of a majority of workers--- as
happened at Hamersley --- to implement a closed
shop is no more a justification for its permanent institution,
without exceptions, than would be a decision to keep
out women or Aborigines. Democracy does not mean,
as Oscar Wilde cynically claimed, "the bludgeoning
of the people by the people for the people."
- "If the right of unionists to associate is enshrined
in legislation, it is inevitable---and just---
that the corollary is also enshrined: the right not
to associate. Unionists and non-unionists' consciences
must be weighed equally. The ensuing power-play should
depend on the ability of the unions to convince rather
than to enforce.
- The era when industrial relations consisted of ever
greater formalisation and regulation is ending, and
disputes such as that at Hamersley will hasten that
Let us hope the tide has now turned and the community
accepts "No Ticket-No Start-No More".