A New Province for Law and Order

The End of The Closed Shop

Russell Allen

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 in 1982.

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 Government employees.

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 of exemption.

The unanimous decision of the Commission in Court Session continued to justify the proposed clause by pointing out:

"(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 Australian Commission.

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 said:

"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 1982. Unreported.)

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 recorded:

"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 the site.

Hamersley's legal team then devised a strategy to seek an injunction "quia timet" to prevent threatened unlawful conduct.

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 circumstances.

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 day".

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;

  • picketing
  • 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 had.

The period since the injunction has not been without difficulty for Hamersley as the unions have sought redress.

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 back.

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 proposed amendments.

A well funded advertising campaign was launched. Eventually even the "West Australian" newspaper wrote an editorial saying that the proposed legislation was unacceptable.

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 agreements ...
... 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 process."

Let us hope the tide has now turned and the community accepts "No Ticket-No Start-No More".

Why HR Nicholls?

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