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Of a total labour force of about 8 million,
three -quarters are employed in the service sector
and the rest in the public sector.

The major changes in recent years have been the
fall in employment in the manufacturing industries
and the increase in numbers working in community
service as well as the other service activities.
Agriculture forestry and fishing provide employment
for under 10% of the workforce and around 1%
work in the mining industry.

Over half the work force belongs to a trade union.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions is a powerful
organisation dedicated to a policy of job protection
and high wages for its members. In the early 1990's
an agreement was reached whereby direct
pay-bargaining between companies and employees
was allowed for the first time, thus ending many
decades of centralised bargaining. However, the work ethic is poor in comparison with other countries, particularly in Asia and the workforce has become accustomed to high wages and automatic pay rises. However, due to the recession and to increasing international competition an element of productivity bargaining is beginning to replace across-the-board increases.

Business suits should be worn in Melbourne and Sydney. In Brisbane and Darwin, a lightweight suit should be worn for an initial business meeting but otherwise informal dress (shirt, tie and shorts) is worn.

Appointments should be made in advance. Business cards are extensively used. A lot of business is done over drinks and the Australians favour straightforward say-what-you-mean approach. First names are used straightaway and should be given over the telephone when answering.

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