A Blueprint for Union Revival? Strategy and Structure in a Successful Organising Union

James L. Tierney, Christina Cregan


An intensive case study of the Australian Nursing Federation (Victorian Branch) was conducted from October to December, 2009. Interviews took place with union staff, past and present. Union archives and media reports were examined. Processes and procedures were observed. Follow-up visits to the union were carried out in 2010.  Interview, observation-based and archival data were analysed. Under Branch Secretaries Belinda Morieson and Lisa Fitzpatrick, the union became a member-oriented, decentralized organisation whose main purpose was to support an organising strategy of worker mobilisation. An industrial-professional union was created. New organisational roles were established and existing roles were adapted to recruit, train and support elected job representatives in their key function of encouraging membership and rank-and-file activism. The entire union became a recruitment-retention machine.


Keywords: Organising, Unionism, Trade Unions, Nursing, Workers’ Mobilitation, Australia, Industrial Relations, Transformational Leadership.


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