Electrolux in Australia: Deregulation, Industry Restructuring and the Dynamics of Bargaining

Robert Lambert, Michael Gillan, S. Fitzgerald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This paper provides a critical assessment of state deregulation policy, industrial restructuring and the erosion of union-based bargaining by analysing the role of the Swedish whitegoods transnational corporation, Electrolux, which bought out the last remaining Australian whitegoods manufacturer in November 2000. We contend that analysis of the global strategy of a transnational corporation provides insight into the dynamics of competition and changing power relations in a deregulated environment. Our research shows how deregulation intensifies global competition in a way that accelerates mergers and acquisitions, which create a high degree of concentration, further rationalisations and workplace restructuring. The latter has been facilitated by the 1996 Workplace Relations Act (WRA), which disorganises trade unionism and undermines solidarity cultures. This we illustrate through a short analysis of the restructuring Electrolux has implemented at a refrigeration plant in Orange, New South Wales. The corporation's mode of bargaining a new enterprise agreement is explored. The power imbalances this process re.ects will only be redressed when there is ‘a new social organisation of labour’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-275
JournalThe Journal of Industrial Relations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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