A Union Of People: The Changes, The Challenges

Australian Workers Film Guide


Produced by the ACTU, this corporate video addresses the issue of workplace reform, enterprise bargaining and the threat of workplace deregulation. The film contrasts Australia’s award system that protects wages and conditions, with New Zealand’s deregulated system that leaves workers to negotiate individual contracts with their employers. The film opens with a speech by Dr John Hewson, advocating the benefits of a deregulated workplace, followed by in situ interviews with a nurse, baker and shop assistant talking about the importance of their award conditions and payments.  Cuts to wages, $3 an hour youth wages, the abolishment of the award system and unions removed from the bargaining process are some of the proposals put forward by conservative elements. There is a short scene of the Burnie dispute in Tasmania, followthe Carpet Dispute in New Zealand.  There is a simulation in which a worker navigates Australia’s award system with the support of their union, contrasted with a worker in New Zealand left to fend for themselves.  The film highlights two Australian success stories in workplace reform – AeroSpace Technologies Australia’s dramatic turn around in profitability and Colonial Mutual Life introduction of a team based system of work.

Special Notes/Achievements

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 12 mins

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