To read this content please select one of the options below:

Young and unionised in the UK? Insights from the public sector

Andy Hodder (Department of Management, Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 7 April 2015




The purpose of this paper is to analyse the relationship between trade unions and young workers in the UK using the Young Members’ Network of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union as a case study.


Findings are based on semi-structured interviews with 20 full-time officials and 39 lay officials of all ages, the collection and analysis of primary documents and observations at a range of union meetings.


It is argued that PCS has developed a strong network of young activists and is leading the way in terms of engaging with and representing young workers. However, its success in the future may be limited due to changes to the external environment in which the union is trying to organise.

Research limitations/implications

The research highlights the role of an under researched area of trade union membership. To provide additional insights, further research is needed into the practice of other unions.


This paper provides significant qualitative analysis into this issue which complements the existing quantitative research in this area.



An earlier version of this paper was presented at 24th Annual Meeting of Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 28th-30th June, 2012. The author would like to thank Matthew Brannan, Steve French, Helen Rainbird, the editor and the two anonymous referees for their helpful comments. The author acknowledges the financial contributions of Keele University and the PCS to this research.


Hodder, A. (2015), "Young and unionised in the UK? Insights from the public sector", Employee Relations, Vol. 37 No. 3, pp. 314-328.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles