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Union availability, union membership and immigrant workers: An empirical investigation of the Irish case

Thomas Turner (Department of Personnel and Employment Relations, Kemmy School of Business, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland)
Daryl D'Art (Department of Personnel and Employment Relations, Kemmy School of Business, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland)
Michelle O'Sullivan (Department of Personnel and Employment Relations, Kemmy School of Business, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 15 August 2008

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Abstract

Purpose

The paper's purpose is to examine the propensity of recent immigrants to join Irish trade unions compared to Irish workers.

Design/methodology/approach

The analysis is based on the 2005 Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS), a quarterly survey carried out by the Central Statistics Office.

Findings

Results show that immigrant workers are less likely to join Irish trade unions than comparable native workers. Length of residency is an important factor in the likelihood of immigrants being unionised but employment in the public or private sector assumes even greater importance than nationality in determining union membership.

Research limitations/implications

While the QNHS is generally a robust representative sample survey of the population, errors may occur in the proportion of non‐Irish nationals surveyed due to difficulties of ensuring their inclusion in the sample population. Language may also be an obstacle, particularly for recently arrived immigrants.

Practical implications

From a trade union perspective the results highlight the need for trade unions to regularly conduct organising campaigns targeted at immigrants. Government policy aimed at integrating immigrants into the Irish labour force and ensuring adequate labour standards would be well served by ensuring greater union availability to immigrant workers.

Originality/value

The paper provides a profile and analysis of the extent to which immigrants are joining trade unions compared to Irish workers.

Keywords

Citation

Turner, T., D'Art, D. and O'Sullivan, M. (2008), "Union availability, union membership and immigrant workers: An empirical investigation of the Irish case", Employee Relations, Vol. 30 No. 5, pp. 479-493. https://doi.org/10.1108/01425450810888268

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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