Trade Unions as Professional Associations – is “partnership” part of the way forward?

Macquarie University’s Department of Marketing and Management and Unions NSW invite you to a seminar discussion and public forum:

Trade Unions as Professional Associations – is “partnership” part of the way forward?

Tuesday 21 July, 12:30 – 2:00pm

Executive Boardroom, Level 3, Trades Hall

4-10 Goulburn St, Sydney (enter via 377 Sussex St).

Panel speakers:

Professor Peter Ackers - Professor of Industrial Relations & Labour History, Centre for Professional Work and Society, Loughborough University, UK

The Hon. Justice Michael Walton - President, Industrial Relations Commission of NSW, and Industrial Court of NSW

Jo-anne Schofield - National President, United Voice

Light lunch provided – please RSVP here for catering purposes.

In the UK and Australia, different perspectives on the union movement have advocated partnership with employers and the state, and others have placed more emphasis on a more confrontational organising approach. Alongside this is a parallel US literature on ‘mutual gains’.  In Australia now, seemingly both approaches are simultaneously under attack by conservatives and the apparatus of the state. 

Peter Ackers who is visiting Sydney has argued that a weakness of this discussion has been a lack of historical grounding in what types of organisations trade unions have been, claiming they are often treated a general workers organisations that can be turned to any purpose. Ackers recent work has returned to Hugh Clegg’s History of British trade unions, and lessons from the British experience, to argue that unions are essentially occupational bodies and that this is the key to understanding their future.  Responding to and placing and this discussion in the Australian experience are Jo-anne Schofield with a perspective from the union movement and Justice Michael Walton from the judiciary.

About the speakers:

Peter Ackers studied Politics and Philosophy (PPE, including Sociology) at Lincoln College, Oxford University, followed by an MA in Industrial Relations from Warwick University. His PhD was a biographical study of the link between Protestant nonconformity and trade union leadership in the Lancashire coal industry. Peter's intellectual interests centre on the sociological and historical aspects of the employment relationship and how this affects ordinary people and society at large. His work stresses the moderate, constructive character of organized labour, with themes of partnership and pluralism, and challenges Radical and Marxist theories of Industrial Relations.

Peter has co-edited two research collections: Ackers et al (1996) The New Workplace and Trade Unionism (Routledge); and Ackers and Wilkinson (2003) Understanding Work and Employment: industrial relations in transition (Oxford). Stewart Johnstone (Newcastle University Business School) and Peter have just completed a new edited book, Finding a Voice at Work: New Perspectives on Employment Relations, for Oxford University Press.

Jo-anne Schofield was elected National President of United Voice in May 2015.   Prior to taking up this role she was Executive Director of Catalyst Australia. She was formerly Assistant National Secretary of the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (now United Voice), having worked for that union for 14 years in a variety of research, legal and policy roles.

Jo-anne has previously served on the Board of industry superannuation, cultural and vocational education and training bodies. She has a BA (Hons) first class from the University of NSW and her thesis critically examined the 1983-1996 Accord between the Labor Government and the union movement.

Justice Michael Walton is the President of the Industrial Court of New South Wales and the Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales. He has held judicial office for fifteen years. He commenced office after a successful decade of practice at the New South Wales Bar.

Justice Walton performs various roles with and for the Judicial Commission of New South Wales and is closely involved in the administration of judicial and community organisations. Some examples of the diversity of those interests include the Executive of the Judicial Conference of Australia, the Editorial Board of the Journal of Labour Law, and is involved in various charitable and sporting organisations.


Paul Doughty · · +61418290945


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Tuesday, July 21, 2015


12:30 PM – 02:00 PM


Executive Boardroom, Trades Hall
4-10 Goulburn St
Level 3, Trades Hall
Sydney, NSW 2000

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