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Glover, Dennis: unmaking of Australian working class

Glover, Dennis

The unmaking of the Australian working class – and their right to resist‘, The Conversation, 3 August 2015

An edited extract from the author’s book, An Economy is Not a Society: Winners and Losers in the New Australia. This extract looks at the transformation in Australia since the 1980s from the industrial to the post-industrial era.

The queues of workers’ cars lining up each morning to get through the factory gate – gone. The publicly owned banks and utilities – gone, or about to go. The union movement, which once covered half the employed workforce and rivalled the state for economic power – mostly gone.

Secure, full-time employment, with its guarantee of holidays, sick pay and promotion – in many industries long gone. The working-class dream of home ownership and upward mobility via cheap land, equal educational opportunities and apprenticeships – all are on the way out …

[I]n just 30 years the world of the Australian working class, with its factories and unions and quality public services and the communities they supported, has been made all but extinct, wiped out, like the dinosaurs, by the fiery asteroid of creative destruction. By a revolution.

The Australian working class has been un-made.

Glover says there needs to be a response:

Australia’s working class won’t easily give up without a fight, won’t voluntarily accept poverty, and won’t surrender its culture and traditions without a struggle … Australia’s wilful working class deserves to be rescued from the condescension of the economic reformers.