The year 2003 was characterised by employer proactivism, and a preparedness to pursue new legal manoeuvres to prevent or terminate protected industrial action. A number of employers also resorted to lengthy lockouts (with few positive results) as bargaining tactics in enterprise negotiations. It was the year employers in the manufacturing and metals sector saw off the unions’ ‘Campaign 2003’, giving little ground on the key issues of reduced hours and contributions to trust funds for worker entitlements. The year was a joyous one for employers in the building and construction industry, as their dreams of a shackled and weakened union movement came a step closer to being realised, with the introduction of draconian industry-specific legislation by the Howard Government, arising from the recommendations of the Cole Royal Commission. On a positive note, the year also witnessed all the members of the ‘industrial relations club’ embrace and declare a common concern for work and family balance issues.
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