In 1987, amid the worst drop in trade union membership since the Great Depression, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) committed itself to a massive reorganization of the labour movement designed to increase union membership and modernize union structures and practices. This process of renewal hinged, at least in part, on the labour movement's commitment to organize and better represent women workers. This article argues that when focusing on women's policy issues and concerns about leadership and representation, the ACTU with the support of the federal Labor government (1983-96) has made enormous strides to respond to the concerns and needs of women workers. Yet, this progress on the inclusion of women in the labour movement has been eroded by the ACTU's simultaneous support for a neo-liberal economic restructuring agenda that encourages the market to allocate resources and pushes the state to the sideline. The ACTU has failed to come to grips with the unequal gendered effects of neo-liberal economic change. Consequently the Australian labour movement has pursued a number of strategies from enterprise bargaining to union amalgamations that promise to erode the position of women as workers and caregivers. In so doing, Australian unions are likely to undercut their own initiatives to build greater support from women for unions.