Sheldon's argument concerning the middle-class nature of the PSA is based largely upon the self-identity and superior working conditions of public servants, but the behavioural characteristics of the PSA that Sheldon focuses on were also closely related to the criteria of 'unionateness'.
The concept of unionateness was particularly utilised in the 1950s to 1970s as white-collar unionism grew rapidly in Australia and elsewhere.7 A number of authors, such as Ross Martin, indicated the impossibility of applying criteria of the kind associated with unionateness with the consistency necessary to distinguish white-collar and manual unions on class terms.
Recent applications of the concept of 'unionateness' have mainly been in longer term historical studies that examine organisational changes over time, for example, in associations or unions of banking employees (9) or academics.
It is instructive, therefore, to examine the early development of the PSA in terms of its unionateness, since in many respects it was a precursor of subsequent general trends in white-collar unionism.
The Middle Class Origins of the PSA and the Concept of Unionateness
This leads us to a more systematic consideration of the concept of unionateness. As defined originally by Robert Blackburn and Kenneth Prandy, (26) and essentially providing the basis for the concept in subsequent literature, unionateness refers to the extent to which employee organisations:
Applying these criteria to the early PSA, we may say that it possessed a significant degree of unionateness in terms of the first three criteria.
These structures and patterns of behaviour led to the PSA's degree of unionateness being well advanced by 1939, but this was also strongly influenced by the exceptional circumstances of the 1930s Depression and the constraints of the PSA's position as a public service organisation.