AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies

Cui bono? : the employment relations of child-care : a study of job satisfaction and trade union membership

by Michael F. Lyons

Institution: University of Western Sydney
Year: 2000
Keywords: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD); child care workers; trade union membership; job satisfaction
Record ID: 1031812
Full text PDF: http://handle.uws.edu.au:8081/1959.7/537


This thesis focuses on the relationship between job satisfaction and union membership of long day care employees in Melbourne and Sydney, and uses the exit-voice/union-voice model as an analytical framework. The data includes surveys of child-care staff and students enrolled in child-care courses, interviews with child-care staff, union officials and employer representatives, and official documentation. While child-care workers report high levels of job satisfaction, it is argued that the considerable ‘exit voice’ of the survey respondents is a demonstration of job dissatisfaction. The reported levels of satisfaction are a manifestation of satisfaction with the intrinsic features of the work (child development outcomes) and the limited employment opportunities of females generally. The exit voice is a manifestation of dissatisfaction with the extrinsic features of the job (pay and career advancement). The thesis failed to detect evidence of a strong relationship between job (dis)satisfaction and union membership, due to the ‘caring profession syndrome’, a perceived lack of union instrumentality, and problems associated with the ability of unions to recruit and organise an industry consisting of over 4,000 small workplaces. The findings show that both staff and students are highly sympathetic towards unions, that working in child-care changes attitudes about work but not unions, and that there exists a strong union voice among child-care workers despite the relative low levels of union membership. The thesis discusses the implications for union organisation so that the supply of union membership might correspond with the demands for this membership, particularly in regard to employee motivations and commitments.