An Australian Research Council Linkage Project team who, with Queensland government partner agency, the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations (now the Department of Education, Training and Employment), have spent the past five years investigating the internal dynamics of collaborative union and non-union relationships with managers in Australian workplaces, hosted a day-long symposium on 10 October for industry, practitioners and academics, at Griffith University’s South Bank campus.

Research findings featured at the event highlighted the movement of traditional workplace partnerships beyond that with unions, to now include areas like employee engagement.

“The research uncovered the success that can be achieved through managers and unions working together to solve problems”, Chief Investigator (CI) Associate Professor Keith Townsend notes.

“Additionally [we] were able to develop an understanding of the contribution that different levels [of] line managers play, in industrial relations and human resource management. The research has also made an important contribution to policy debates around enterprise bargaining”, Keith says.

Associate Professor Townsend, and Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing Director, and lead Project CI, Professor Adrian Wilkinson, also welcomed Professor John Purcell, formerly of Oxford, Warwick and Bath universities, who discussed with attendees, the place of joint workplace consultation and its influence on collectivism.

Further presentations on the day included those from fellow Project CI’s Professor Kerry Brown (Central Queensland University) on the effect of partnerships on public sector employment relations, and Professor John Burgess (Curtin University) on the state of Australian employment partnerships; Australian Postgraduate Award recipient and WOW-affiliated Higher Degree Research student, Evelyn Sen on employee voice in the absence of an active union presence in the workplace; and WOW adjunct Professor, Bruce Kaufman (Georgia State University) with closing comments.

The Linkage Project team were awarded funding totaling $328 000 AUD over three years (grant number LP09890151). The grant is entitled ‘Managing Productive and Collaborative Relations in Australia’.