At the end of next week a 'special symposium' will be hosted by Macquarie University to mark the three decades since the ALP-ACTU deal helped to elect the Hawke Government in 1983. The good and the great of the Accord era will be there (Hawke, Crean, Kelty etc) as will many enthusiasts from the academic community.
The Accord was Australia's odd experiment in corporatism at the national level. Odd because the labour movement (or at least its leaders) seemed to embrace corporatism at the same time and, at least on the political side, with the same enthusiasm as it embraced the neo-liberal agenda then sweeping the anglophone world.
Whatever its merits, I found in my thesis that today's union leadership are split over the Accord. Split in intresting and important ways. Here is an excerpt:
The ACTU’s adoption of independence and external lobbying involves a direct rejection of the dependence and internal lobbying approach involved in the social democratic style Accord arrangement. The adoption of union revitalisation strategies is based in critiques of the impact of these social democratic arrangements on union vitality and membership engagement.
In fact, for the critics inside today’s union movement, the Accord is viewed through the lens of a contemporary focus on re-building membership. The Accord was good for working people, but it was, they say, bad for unions.
While a few interviewees found merit in both the Accord and the organising model, seeing them as appropriate responses to the circumstances of their times, most leaned one way or the other.