In August 1984, 17 months after the election of the Hawke Labor government and the start of the Accord process, the Metal Industry Unions through their national Award Negotiation Committee, presented to the government and the public its own comprehensive jobs-creating industry policy. The Report ran to 309 pages and was supported with supplementary leaflets, journal articles, media stories and pamphlets.
As National Secretary of the Metals Award Negotiation Committee, Laurie Carmichael laid out in the Foreword the independent and united union position for ongoing consultations with both the employers and the government.
We hope to post a link to the full report in the coming weeks.
The unions' research officers worked closely with a new network of state and regional research centres that operated voluntarily, in the main, to develop the content. In turn, these new centres - the Trans National Cooperative (Sydney), Hunter Workers Research Centre, Labor Research Centre (Melbourne), Wollongong Workers Research Centre, and the Labor Education and Research Group (Adelaide) - used the content to further develop their own local initiatives to defend and develop manufacturing industries against the neoliberal downgrading of manufacturing.
Interview conducted by Lesley Dormer for Workers Weekly, Radio 5UV, University of Adelaide. (Produced by Ray Broomhill.)
Introduction - Don Sutherland
This interview was run about 12 months into the Hawke Labor government’s operation of “The Statement of Accord by the ALP and the ACTU regarding Economic Policy” (The Accord), created in February 1983.
Interviewer, Lesley Dormer, enables Laurie to explain what had been achieved in the first 12 months, outline the character of the Accord from his point of view as a medium for “higher intervention” by workers, and why that was necessary. He starts by emphasizing a point about strategy: that in that first year the Liberals’ monetarism had been rejected.
Carmichael also outlines the problems and obstacles that have not been overcome and introduces the crucial question of the relationship between the industrial wage and the social wage in defining living standards.
Presciently, he describes the potential of the finance system to be a defining "nuisance" in the efforts to get the full value out of the Accord strategy.
His discussion on the industrial wage raises vital questions; for example, “militant” unionism can, in a particular form, promote a wages struggle that aligns with the free-market approach of the employers. Thus, here in 1984, he suggests “enterprise bargaining” is in that framework.
The interview concludes with a brief discussion that links his approach to the Accord to earlier views he had expressed about an open-ended transition to socialism.