Union growth, recruitment strategy and women workers

Queensland telephonists in the 1970s

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Recruitment strategies have recently become a focal concern of the Australian union movement, in its efforts to arrest union decline and increase female unionisation levels. Yet discussions on union growth in Australia typically have concentrated on institutional forces, giving little attention to union organising. This article examines the significance of recruitment strategies to union growth. In the process, it also examines the orthodox convention that women workers are hard to organise. The paper focuses on the dramatic unionisation of Queensland telephonists in the 1970s, their occupational union reaching 97 per cent density in 1978 in the absence of preference provisions. The study points to the importance of the telephonists' union's recruitment campaign and its critical relationship to workplace organisation and industrial campaigns which together tapped a changing union instrumentality among telephonists, itself largely the product of economic and demographic factors, job insecurity and changing employer policies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-112
Number of pages26
JournalLabour and Industry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1996
Externally publishedYes

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