During pre-federation when free labour came to dominate the colonies; workers exercised their civil citizenship rights through entry into individual employment contracts. The master and servant laws which empowered these individual contracts were imported from Britain and were quickly implemented and regulated in the Colonies. Isaac argues that the master and servant acts both in concept and practice reflected the harsh penal code used against the convicts'. However, the latter part of the 1800's brought with it the rising political influence of the working classes and an increasingly powerful trade union. The modification of the master and servant laws through the collectivisation of union groups resulted in a greater role fir state interventions.
The 1890's saw the emergence of many disputes over working conditions and the power employers had over employees, which was legitimised by law. Australian workers were illustrating this through strikes and the formation of unions. In recognising the duty of government to be the protection and economic welfare of its citizens, a court of Conciliation and Arbitration was established in Australia in the 1890's. The new systems were based in social democratic ideals and worked to give every Australian a decent standard of living. These were unlike the imported Master and Servant Acts which legitimised employee's subordination and exploitation by the employer.
In 1945 the Australian Council of Trade Unions established and agreed with three major industrial demands: A substantial increase in wage, an end to wage pegging, and a 40 hour week. Unions were founded on the principle that employees on their own, without union advocates and resources are unequal in the bargaining process and prone for exploitation. The tread towards negotiations on qualitative improvements such as training and job satisfaction makes workplace industrial negotiations for the unions' even more complex, necessitating substantial support for those involved in negotiating these issues at the workplace.
A trade unions' overall aim is that of protecting and advancing the interests of their members. The trade union movement has long been identified with the Labour party, but trade unions seek to act politically by using their representation powers. Unions try to influence government policy regardless of which party is in power. Employee relations are associated with two things. The first is the "decentralised approach" and in particular enterprise productivity bargaining, which needs to be located within the field that deals with unions, wages policy, bargaining structure and the like. The second defining feature of employee relations is a unitary value system.
The advantages of arbitration are many, these have been highlighted by the ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) International Court of Arbitration on...