The perceptions of trade unions by their members

Edward L. Zammit (Workers Participation Development Centre, University of Malta, Malta)
Saviour Rizzo (Workers Participation Development Centre, University of Malta, Malta)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Publication date: 1 February 2002


Trade union members, on the basis of their work experiences and aspirations, tend to develop an implicit paradigm within which they expect their trade union to function. The survey conducted by the Workers’ Participation Development Centre (WPDC) of the University of Malta reveals how trade unions are perceived by their members thus attempting to decode this paradigm. The data emanating from this survey suggest that solidarity rather than viewed as an intrinsic value is seen as a means for attaining instrumental values. Yet, despite the growing heterogeneity of trade union constituents there is still a significant group of workers who uphold the traditional and ideal vision of trade unionism. The survey suggests that, while undergoing renewal trade unions should hold on to the principles of workers’ representation upon which they were founded. Nevertheless the changes taking place in the labour market also require that new recruitment initiatives be undertaken. Failing this, the trade union movement may end up representing merely a “labour aristocracy” rather than a wide section of contemporary workforce.



Zammit, E. and Rizzo, S. (2002), "The perceptions of trade unions by their members", Employee Relations, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 53-68.

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Copyright © 2002, MCB UP Limited

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