RMIT researchers are investigating the history of industry superannuation in Australia.
Dr Bernard Mees and Associate Professor Cathy Brigden from the School of Management recently secured a $200,000 contract for the project, which has been commissioned by the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees.
Originally starting in the building industry, industry superannuation was established through trade union and ACTU campaigning.
Industry super is also responsible for the creation of organisations such as ME Bank, the Mother's Day Classic and the community campaign that saved the Regent Theatre from demolition.
"Before industry super only a third of the Australian workforce had access to superannuation so its development is crucial to understanding the foundations of superannuation and the ethics of investment savings in Australia today," Dr Mees said.
"The key purpose of our research is to tell the story of industry super, from its origins in long-running union campaigns for pensions, the shift to coordinated campaigning by the building and construction unions in the early 1980s, the development of the industry funds movement, through to the present day.
"Australia is unique for having a national superannuation system that is dominated by industry pension funds and the origins and achievements of industry superannuation are of international significance."
Rather than telling the story through the recollections of politicians or surveys of media accounts from the time, the project will be based on archival sources and interviews with union delegates, activists, members and leaders of the day.
The result will be a book telling the history of industry superannuation from the perspective of the members, unions and institutions which comprise the industry superannuation movement today.
The project will be located within the Centre for People, Organisation and Work (CSOW), a leading research centre in RMIT's College of Business.
CSOW hosts a range of funded research projects in structural adjustment and trade union studies, including a $485,000 ARC-funded study of trade union involvement in the economic development of north-west Tasmania.