In this timely book, industrial relations historian Bradon Ellem outlines the process of de-unionization and the accompanying decline in working conditions in the iron-ore mining industry of Western Australia. Covering the period from the 1960s up to the present, The Pilbara charts the negotiations between the mining unions and the three big mining companies: BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, and Fortescue Metals Group (FMG). Ellem demonstrates that the fragmented mining unions had little hope of preventing the process of de-unionization, a turn of events made more poignant by the industry’s past fame for its militant and powerful union movement.

The book opens with a map of the region. Ellem reminds the reader of Australia’s proximity to Asia and the importance of first Japanese and then Chinese markets for Australian iron ore. Apart from brief mentions, there is no sustained global comparison in...

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