Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

Strategy and Structure in a Successful Organising Union: The Transformational Role of Branch Secretaries in the Australian Nursing Federation, Victorian Branch, 1989-2009

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (2013), 104, (1), 149–168.

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of a major Australian professional-industrial trade union’s Branch Secretaries on the adoption of the “organising model.” The investigation was carried out specifically with regard to the union’s organisational strategies and structures that were developed to facilitate mobilisation of workers over the period 1989-2009. The paper draws on the union organising and transformational leadership literatures to develop a theoretical framework. An intensive case study of the Australian Nursing Federation, Victorian Branch, was conducted from October to December 2009. Interview, observation-based and archival data were analysed. The findings demonstrate that, under the executive leadership of two Branch Secretaries, Belinda Morieson and Lisa Fitzpatrick, the union became a member-oriented, decentralised organisation whose main purpose was to support an organising strategy of worker mobilisation. The professional and industrial goals of nurses were aligned. New organisational roles were created and existing roles were adapted to train and support elected job representatives in their key function of encouraging membership and rank-and-file activism. Finally, the entire union became a recruitment and retention machine.

Access Token
£25.00
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Footnotes

1.Jelle Visser, “Union Membership Statistics in 24 Countries,” Monthly Labor Review(January2006):38–49. Google Scholar

2. Labour Statistics(:Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 1975-2009). Google Scholar

3.Rules of the Australian Nursing Federation 2009, s 65.1. The Branch Secretary is the elected leader of the Branch Council, the union’s highest policy and decision-making body of the union. The Secretary and Assistant Secretaries are elected for four-year terms. All Council members are elected (except for the President and Vice-President) for two-year terms. While the Branch Secretary has strong influence on Council, all policies are subject to voting processes in Council. Finally, resolutions by job representatives at the Delegates Conference are routinely adopted by Council. Google Scholar

4.In 1986, 93 per cent of nurses in Australia were women and 40 per cent worked part-time.Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Nursing and Midwifery Labour Force 2009, AIHWBulletin, no. 90 (:AIHW, 2009), accessed March 2013,http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=10737419682. Google Scholar

5.Belinda Morieson, interview with author, December 23, 2009. Google Scholar

6.Lisa Fitzpatrick, interview with author, December 15, 2009. Google Scholar

7.John E. Kelly, Rethinking Industrial Relations: Mobilisation, Collectivism and Long Waves(:Routledge, 1998), 64. Google Scholar

8.Sidney Tarrow, Struggle, Politics and Reform: Collective Action, Social Movements and Cycles of Protest(:Cornell University Press, 1991); Bert Klandermans, “Mobilisation and Participation: Social Psychological Explanations of Resource Mobilisation Theory,”American Sociological Review49 (1984): 583-600. Google Scholar

9.Charles Tilly, From Mobilisation to Revolution(:Addison-Wesley, 1978); Doug McAdam, “Conceptual Origins, Current Problems, Future Directions,” inComparative Perspectives on Social Movements: Political Opportunities, Mobilising Structures and Cultural Framings, ed. Doug McAdamet al.(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 22-40. Google Scholar

10.Kim Voss, and Rachel Sherman, “Breaking the Iron Law of Oligarchy: Union Revitalization in the American Labor Movement,” American Journal of Sociology 106(2000):303–49. Google Scholar

11.Christina Cregan, “Can Organizing Work? An Inductive Analysis of Individual Attitudes toward Union Membership,” Industrial and Labor Relations Review 58(2005):283. Google Scholar

12.Bill Fletcher and Richard W. Hurd, “Beyond the Organizing Model: The Transformation Process in Local Unions,”inOrganizing to Win, ed.Kate Bronfenbrenner et al.(:Cornell University Press, 2008), 37–53. Google Scholar

13.Kelly, Rethinking Industrial Relations, 64. Google Scholar

14.Boase Shamir, Robert J. House and Michael B. Arthur, “The Motivational Effects of Charismatic Leadership: A Self-Concept Based Theory,” Organization Science 4(2009):579. Google Scholar

15.Max Weber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization(:Free Press, 1947), published in Germany in 1920; James M. Burns, Leadership(New York: Harper and Row, 1978). Google Scholar

16.SeeBernard M. Bass, “Two Decades of Research and Development in Transformational Leadership,” European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology 8(1999):9–32. Google Scholar

17.Bernard M. Bass and Bruce J. Avolio, “Transformational Leadership and Organizational Culture,” Public Administration Quarterly 17(1993):112–21. Google Scholar

18.Barbara J. Feinberg, Cheri Ostroff and W. Warner Burke, “The Role of Within-Group Agreement in Understanding Transformational Leadership,” Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology 78(2005):471. Google Scholar

19.Shamir et al., “Charismatic Leadership,” 584. Google Scholar

20.Nicholas W. Twigg, Bryan J. Fuller and Kim Hester, “Transformational Leadership in Labor Organizations: The Effect on Union Citizenship Behaviors,” Journal of Labor Research 29(2008):28. Google Scholar

21.Daniel J. Elazar, “The Political Theory of Covenant: Bible Origins and Modern Developments,” Publius 10(1980):3–20. Google Scholar

22.Lois E. Tetrick, “Developing and Maintaining Union Commitment: A Theoretical Framework,” Journal of Organizational Behavior 16(1995):583–95. Google Scholar

23.Christina Cregan, Tim Bartram and Pauline Stanton, “Organising During a Mobilisation Campaign: The Impact of Social Identity and Transformational Leadership on the Collectivist Attitudes of Union Members,” British Journal of Industrial Relations 47(2009):701–22. Google Scholar

24.Ed Snape and Tom Redman, “Exchange or Covenant: The Nature of the Member-Union Relationship,” Industrial Relations 43(2004):855–73. Google Scholar

26.For example,Bob Carter and Rae Cooper, “The Organising Model and the Management of Change: A Comparative Study of Unions in Australia and Britain,” Relations Industrielles 57(2002):712–44. There is a series of work on women union leaders, most of which investigates the incidence and/or causation of the low representation of women as activists or union officials; for example, Gill Kirton and Geraldine Healey, “The Early Mobilisation of Women Union Leaders: A Comparative Perspective,”British Journal of Industrial Relations, in press, accessed August 17, 2012. Google Scholar

27.Feinberg et al., “The Role of Within-Group Agreement,” 473. Google Scholar

28.Cregan, Bartram, and Stanton, “Organising During a Mobilisation Campaign”. Google Scholar

29.Joe Collins and Drew Cottle, “Labor Neo-Liberals or Pragmatic Neo-Laborists? The Hawke and Keating Governments in Office, 1983-96,” Labour History, no. 98 (2010):25–37. Google Scholar

30.Sources for the following section: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Labour Market Statistics, catalogue no. 6105.0(:ABS, 1989-2009); Australian Bureau of Statistics, Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership, catalogue no. 6310.0 (Canberra: ABS, 1989-2009); Australian Bureau of Statistics, Labour Force Australia, catalogue no. 6203.0 (Canberra: ABS, 1997-2009); Australian Bureau of Statistics, The Labour Force Australia 1978-1995, catalogue no. 6204.0 (Canberra: ABS, 1996); Mark Bray, Peter Waring, and Rae Cooper, Employment Relations(Sydney: McGraw Hill, 2011), 83-91. Google Scholar

31.Industrial Relations Reform Act 1993 (Cth). Google Scholar

32.Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth); Workplace Relations Amendment Act 2005 (Cth). Google Scholar

33.Sources for this section: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Social Trends, catalogue no. 4102.0(:ABS, 2005), accessed March 2013,http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/94713ad445ff1425ca25682000192af2/8a87ef112b5bcf8bca25703b0080ccd9!OpenDocument; Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2011;Nursing and Midwifery Labour Force 2009. Google Scholar

34.Suzanne Gordon, John Buchanan and Tanya Bretherton, Safety in Numbers(:Cornell University Press, 2008). Google Scholar

37.This occurred in 1984.Judith Bessant, “Good Women and Good Nurses: Conflicting Identities in the Victorian Nurses Strikes, 1985-86,” Labour History, no. 63 (1992):165. Google Scholar

38.This occurred in 1982.Heather Gardner and Brigid McCoppin, “The Politicisation of Australian Nurses: Victoria 1984-1986,” Politics 22(1987):19–34. Google Scholar

39.Isla Colson, More than Just the Money: 100 Years of the Victorian Nurses Union(:Australian Nursing Federation, 2001); Carol Fox, Enough is Enough: The 1986 Victorian Nurses’ Strike(Sydney: University of New South Wales, 1991). Google Scholar

40.Fitzpatrick, interview, December 22, 2009. Google Scholar

41.Quoted in Colson, More than Just the Money, 76. Google Scholar

42.Irene Bolger, interview with author, December 23, 2009. Google Scholar

43.Tim Bartram, Pauline Stanton and Lauren Elovaris, “The Role of Job Representatives in an Organising Strategy: The Case of the Australian Nursing Federation,” Journal of Industrial Relations 50(2008):25–44. Google Scholar

44.For a review of professional-industrial unions in Australia, seeStephen Deery and Janet Walsh, “The Decline of Collectivism: A Comparative Study of White-Collar Workers in Britain and Australia,” British Journal of Industrial Relations 37(1999):245–69. Google Scholar

45.Fox, Enough is Enough, 207; Colson, More than Just the Money, 91-92. Google Scholar

46.Colson, More Than Just the Money, 86;90. Google Scholar

47.Ibid., 79. Google Scholar

48.Katherine Ellinghaus, “The Radicalisation of Florence Nightingale: The Victorian Nurses’ Strike of 1986”(Hons thesis,University of Melbourne, 1995), 39. Google Scholar

49.Ellinghaus, “The Radicalisation of Florence Nightingale,” 79, 90–92. Google Scholar

50.Cregan, Bartram and Stanton, “Organising During a Mobilisation Campaign,” 702. Google Scholar

51.Gordon, Buchanan and Bretherton, Safety in Numbers, 48. Google Scholar

52.Pauline Stanton, “Changing Employment Relationships in Victorian Public Hospitals: The Kennett Years, 1992-1999”(PhD thesis,La Trobe University, 2002). Google Scholar

53.John Buchanan, Tanya Bretherton, Sue Bearfield and Stephen Jackson, Stable but Critical: The Working Conditions of Victorian Public Sector Nurses(:Australian Centre for Industrial Relations Research and Training, 2004). Google Scholar

55.Victorian Hospitals Industrial Association v Australian Nursing Federation (a decision of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, made by the Commission sitting in Melbourne, Victoria on 31 August 2000, before Commissioner Blair)S9958 [2000] AIRC 267 (31 August 2000), [174]. This ratio applied in all “A” Hospitals. Google Scholar

56.Ellinghaus, “The Radicalisation of Florence Nightingale,” 14; Colson, More than Just the Money, 78. Google Scholar

57.John Buchanan, and Gillian Considine, “Combating Work Intensification: Do Nurse-Patient Ratios Reduce Workloads in Australian Public Hospitals?”(paper presented at the23rd International Labour Process Conference, Glasgow, UK, October 27, 2005), 13. Google Scholar

58.Buchanan and Considine, “Combating Work Intensification,” 2. Google Scholar

59.Gordon, Buchanan and Bretherton, Safety in Numbers. Google Scholar

61.Secretary’s Report, Annual Report 1992-1993, Australian Nursing Federation, Victorian Branch (ANF Vic), internal publication, 2. Google Scholar

62.These comprised formal courses; accredited courses; courses in first aid, mathematics, management and leadership, violence and aggression prevention and management; legal, ethical, and clinical courses; computer courses; and post registration modules. The centre also offered extensive Occupation Health and Safety Training, including “No Lift Workshops”; see “Education,” Australian Nursing Federation, Victorian Branch, accessed March 2013:http://www.anfvic.asn.au/education/. Google Scholar

64.ANF Vic, Council Minutes, 4 February 1989, 1, ANF Vic Archives, 540 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, Vic., 3000. It had been introduced under Carson in 1982 but discontinued in 1987 under Bolger; see ANF Vic, Council Minutes, 24 March 1987, ANF Vic Archives. The nature of liability apportionment legislation in Victoria means that individual nurses may not be covered by vicarious liability provisions. In 2009, although the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) offered professional indemnity insurance, it cost RCN members an additional $586 a year while it was included as part of the ANF membership fee. This insurance became even more valuable under the National Registration Scheme that commenced on 1 July 2010, which required nurses to have indemnity insurance. SeeHealth Practitioner Regulation National Law (Victoria) Act 2009, s 129(1). Google Scholar

66.Ibid. Google Scholar

67.Victorian Nurses Health Program, brochure, accessed March 2013,http://www.anfvic.asn.au/multiversions/2715/FileName/VNHPbrochure.pdf. Google Scholar

68.Fitzpatrick, interview, December 22, 2009. Google Scholar

70.Feinberg et al., “The Role of Within-Group Agreement,” 471. Google Scholar

75.Ibid., 35. Google Scholar

76.Fitzpatrick, interview, December 15, 2009. Google Scholar

78.Fitzpatrick, interview, December 15, 2009. Google Scholar

83.Fitzpatrick, interview, December 22, 2009. Google Scholar

85.Fitzpatrick, interview, December 22, 2009. Google Scholar

89.Fitzpatrick, interview, December 22, 2009. Google Scholar

91.ANF Vic, Annual Report 2008-2009, 10, ANF Vic Archives. Google Scholar

93.Secretary’s Report, ANF Vic, Annual Report 1992-1993, 2, ANF Vic Archives. Google Scholar

94.Morieson, interview; Bobby Kuriakose, interview with author, December 4, 2009. Google Scholar

95.Fitzpatrick, interview, December 15, 2009. Google Scholar

97.Fitzpatrick, interview, December 15, 2009. Google Scholar

100.Fitzpatrick, interview, December 15, 2009. Google Scholar

101.Alfred D. Chandler, Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of the American Industrial Enterprise(:MIT Press, 1962), 15. Google Scholar

102.Cregan, Bartram, and Stanton, “Organising During a Mobilisation Campaign,” 702. Google Scholar

104.Robert Michels, Political Parties(:Collier Books, 1962). Google Scholar

105.Voss and Sherman, “Breaking the Iron Law of Oligarchy,” 303–49. Google Scholar

106.Christopher L. Erickson, Catherine Fisk, Ruth Milkman, Daniel J.B. Mitchell, and Kent Wong, “Justice for Janitors in Los Angeles and Beyond,”inThe Changing Roles of Unions: New Forms of Representation, ed.Phanindra Wunnava(:M. E. Sharpe, 2004), 22–60. Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Tierney, James

Cregan, Christina