Does union power still frighten voters?

Over at LP, Mark Bahnisch asks whether the government’s attack on union power under Rudd will work:

There’s an unexamined premise in commentary about this tactic of the Government – that unions are wildly unpopular. But how true is that? Unfortunately, there is no time series data on union sympathy. But there are three large-scale surveys conducted this decade that reveal some fascinating results.

Actually, there is time series data on union sympathy – I reported on nearly twenty years of fairly consistent questions in this 2005 article. On the the issues of whether unions have too much power and whether there should be stricter regulations of trade unions there is a clear decline in hositility towards unions. All the polls prior to 1990 (including earlier polls with different questions that I did not show in that article) showed between two-thirds and three-quarters of respondents thought that unions had too much power. This century, less than half of respondents have thought that.

This accords with changes in objective conditions. In the worst year of union havoc inflicted on Australian society, 1974, a staggering 6.3 million working days were lost to strikes. Continue reading “Does union power still frighten voters?”