Non-Union Employee Representation in Australia

A Case Study of the Suncorp Metway Employee Council Inc. (SMEC)

Raymond Markey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Citations (Scopus)


Non-union representative employee participation recently has attracted increasing international attention in employment relations due to the growing representation gap in many countries as union membership declines, and mounting evidence of the benefits of representative employee participation for enterprise flexibility and efficiency. However, relatively little is known about Australian experiments in employee participation, although it is essential to learn from Australian experience in order to develop effective public policy. This case study represents a contribution to this larger project. SMEC is a non-union employee representative body that has adopted a European works council organizational model. The case study evaluates SMEC' effectiveness as a non-union form of representative employee participation. It concludes that the opportunities for the formation of genuinely independent works council style organs of employee participation remain severely constrained by the current Australian regulatory environment, which tends to encourage a union substitution role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-209
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Australia
  • employee representation
  • unions
  • works councils

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