Little consideration has been given to the question of stress among trade union officers. Some explanations for this are offered and, on the basis of pilot research carried out in the north east of England, class and gender are revealed as crucial variables is shown both in terms of stressors and coping strategies for male officers. This yields a new viewpoint for considering traditional theories of union democracy. In a follow‐up article the question of stress management in trade unions will be considered.
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