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Article
Publication date: 7 August 2017

Girish Balasubramanian and Santanu Sarkar

The purpose of this paper is to delve into some of the key internal and external factors that led to the choice of specific strategies for union revitalization using the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to delve into some of the key internal and external factors that led to the choice of specific strategies for union revitalization using the theoretical framework built upon framing perspectives, the strategic action field (SAF), and the strategic choice theory.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors used a stringent definition and corresponding operationalization of trade union revitalization. The present research has been carried out on a registered industrial union within the context of Global South, specifically in India.

Findings

Evidence was found for the trade union adopting a mix of strategies for revitalization, namely, union organizing, social movement unionism, and union restructuring. A mix of both internal and external factors identified informed the choice of revitalization strategies.

Research limitations/implications

Specific limitations include the subjectivity of the inference in spite of taking due precautions, and lack of generalizability of the findings based on a single case study.

Practical implications

A strong identity, coupled with structural vitality and optimum use of resources enables trade unions to frame the need of a strategy for revival in order to counter the strategic action of employers resulting in union revitalization.

Originality/value

The theoretical novelty of this research stems from the amalgamation of collective action frames, SAF, and strategic choice framework to understand the union revitalization in the context of Global South.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 39 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Book part
Publication date: 2 October 2003

Lowell Turner

In recent years, the long-declining U.S. labor movement has refocused in new and promising ways on rank-and-file mobilization, in organizing drives, collective bargaining…

Abstract

In recent years, the long-declining U.S. labor movement has refocused in new and promising ways on rank-and-file mobilization, in organizing drives, collective bargaining conflicts and political campaigns. Such efforts are widely viewed as the best hope for revitalizing the labor movement: breathing new life into tired old unions, winning organizing drives and raising membership levels, increasing political influence, pushing toward the power necessary to reform labor law and ineffective labor institutions. The stakes are high and the goals ambitious: to close the “representation gap” at the workplace, reverse growing economic and social inequality, and build new coalitions for expanded democratic participation in local, national and global politics.

Details

Labor Revitalization: Global Perspectives and New Initiatives
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-153-8

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Article
Publication date: 22 June 2012

David Martínez‐Iñigo, Antonio Crego, Silvia Garcia‐Dauder and Roberto Domínguez‐Bilbao

This study aims to analyze the relationship between the culture in one of the majority national trade unions in Spain and the difficulties in accomplishing the desired…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to analyze the relationship between the culture in one of the majority national trade unions in Spain and the difficulties in accomplishing the desired changes and innovations.

Design/methodology/approach

A total of 15 focus groups comprised of trade union leaders were conducted. Transcriptions of the groups were analyzed from a grounded theory approach

Findings

The presence of an “inconclusive dialectic” structure (thesis‐antithesis‐no synthesis) in the leaders' rhetoric was identified. From a dialectic perspective of organizational change, this can be interpreted as a factor slowing change within the organization.

Research limitations/implications

The study reflects the role played by organizational culture in maintaining this inertia and in the delay of the reduction of divergence between internal and external dimensions implied in the working and survival of trade union organizations. The results of the study reflect the need to introduce changes in the trade union's language and to redefine some of the terms in the discourse. New standards for the evaluation of the efficiency of trade unions as a whole, teams and their members are also necessary. This redefinition implies proposals able to synthesize tensions between the ideological and instrumental and between activism and professionalism.

Originality/value

In order to face workers' demands in the current framework of labor relations, there is general consensus on the need for change and development in trade union organizations. There are numerous factors involved that have been analyzed and some initiatives have been implemented from different levels with unclear success. Although literature on organizational development gives culture a central role, in the case of trade unions this dimension has been neglected.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 34 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 2000

Edmund Heery, Melanie Simms, Dave Simpson, Rick Delbridge and John Salmon

The concept of an “organizing model” of trade unionism has shaped union strategies for revitalization in a number of countries in recent years. This article examines the…

Abstract

The concept of an “organizing model” of trade unionism has shaped union strategies for revitalization in a number of countries in recent years. This article examines the transfer of “organizing unionism” to the UK in two ways. It presents findings from a survey of unions to identify the extent to which the organizing model is influencing national recruitment policy and presents case studies of three union campaigns which have drawn upon the organizing model, in an attempt to assess its strengths and weaknesses in a UK context. The survey results indicate only limited take‐up of the organizing model, though there is a group of vanguard unions which have embraced it with enthusiasm. The case studies demonstrate some success in applying the model, though identify employer resistance and internal opposition as significant constraints.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 22 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Book part
Publication date: 2 February 2018

Paul Whitehead, Paul F. Clark and Lois S. Gray

This chapter reports the results of a 20-year longitudinal study of how American unions have adapted their internal administrative practices to meet the significant…

Abstract

This chapter reports the results of a 20-year longitudinal study of how American unions have adapted their internal administrative practices to meet the significant external challenges they face. In previous scholarly work, researchers have reported that the administrative practices of American unions were far more informal, ad hoc, and political than those of business, government, and other nonprofit organizations. The authors’ 2010 survey asked US-based national and international unions to provide data concerning their internal administrative practices. The results were compared with findings from similar surveys conducted in 1990 and 2000. The results of these surveys indicate a steady increase in unions’ adoption of more formal personnel policies, budget practices, strategic planning processes, and efforts to evaluate planned activities over the 20-year period studied. They also indicate that unions increasingly recruit individuals meeting college, technical, and professional qualifications. Taken together, the results suggest a recognition on the part of many unions that adapting their internal administrative practices to the new realities they face is a fundamental and a necessary part of any effort at organizational renewal.

Details

Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations, 2017: Shifts in Workplace Voice, Justice, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution in Contemporary Workplaces
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-486-8

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Book part
Publication date: 29 January 2021

Christian Lyhne Ibsen

Social democratic unionism has arguably been one of the most successful worker organisations in modern history. Through collective bargaining and political influence, this…

Abstract

Social democratic unionism has arguably been one of the most successful worker organisations in modern history. Through collective bargaining and political influence, this type of unionism has been effective in redistributing the gains from capitalist markets. This paper reviews the challenges, pathways and dilemmas social democratic unions face in the knowledge economy. Similar to industrialisation, the knowledge economy has the potential to fundamentally change the social fabric that trade unions derive their power resources from. There are three major and interrelated challenges: (1) technological change and the knowledge economy, (2) new socio-political coalitions and (3) keeping employers in. Focussing on Denmark and Sweden, it is argued that these three challenges strike the core of social democratic unionism, as they can undermine the ability to encompass the whole labour market because of polarisation or upgrading of jobs. The paper goes on to outline three possible pathways: ‘going radical’, ‘going academic’ and ‘going old-school’. ‘Going radical’ entails a sharper focus on fighting precarious work with other regulatory means other than collective bargaining. ‘Going academic’ entails a focus on education and lifting all occupational groups. ‘Going old-school’ entails adapting the principle of collective bargaining to new types of companies and occupations while sticking to the regulatory means as before. It is argued that none of the strategies is a silver bullet to the challenges, but that a key to the success of any of the strategies is that minimum wage levels are defended, as this will fuel investment in education for lower-paid work.

Details

Social Democracy in the 21st Century
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-953-3

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Article
Publication date: 16 August 2019

Bojindra Prasad Tulachan

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the systematic development of trade unions in Nepal. To that end, it considers historical political paradigm shifts and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the systematic development of trade unions in Nepal. To that end, it considers historical political paradigm shifts and institutional dynamics from the beginning of trade unions to today.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper adopts the background of biological growth theories and tests them with the use of qualitative and quantitative data, official records and historical literature.

Findings

The second juncture of trade unions was vacuum marked by the absence of a legal labor framework. The first stage of trade unionism was prevented from an official take-off as such in terms of unionization and union activities. The major reason for this phenomenon was the complete ban on trade unions placed by the monarchial regime. However, the alliance of trade unions with mother political parties helped them to bounce back in the early 1990s. Thus, the overall biological growth pattern of trade unions in Nepal appears as “discontinuous.”

Originality/value

The paper argues that the discontinuous development of trade unions appeared without undergoing a complete growth course of ferment, take-off and maturity as in the S-curve pattern. Second, the discontinuity of the trade unions led eventually to its formal existence as an institutionalized IR actor. Third, the trend of trade unionism since the 1980s and 1990s is one of gradual decline in developed, recently developed and developing countries, whereas it is on a sharp incline in Nepal.

Details

Employee Relations: The International Journal, vol. 41 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Article
Publication date: 7 February 2018

Holm-Detlev Köhler and Sergio González Begega

This paper aims to examine the reaction of a local workforce to global restructuring in a transnational company (TNC), which entailed the closure of a manufacturing plant …

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the reaction of a local workforce to global restructuring in a transnational company (TNC), which entailed the closure of a manufacturing plant (La Monroe) in Northern Spain. The article explores the micro-political nature of the corporate decision to close the plant, the workforce reaction to relocation and the discourse legitimizing global restructuring. It also delves into the contra-hegemonic potential of labour as a main stakeholder in TNCs.

Design/methodology/approach

The methodological approach is qualitative. The article presents a theoretically informed and analytical case study based on the literature on micro-politics and power relations in TNCs. Fieldwork is based on semi-structured interviews carried out with relevant stakeholders and other external actors to the TNC.

Findings

The findings substantiate the dynamic role of micro-politics within TNCs. The article presents and discusses evidence of the formation of a broad multi-level political network of resistance to a plant closure plan.

Research limitations/implications

More case study analysis would further support the findings in the paper and provide for a comparative approach.

Originality/value

The article substantiates the dynamic role of micro-politics and power relations in the reification of social norms and discourses on production relocation. It offers an empirical appraisal of the micro-political approach to global restructuring in TNCs. The article also puts labour strategies at the forefront of the analysis in corporate relocation.

Details

critical perspectives on international business, vol. 14 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1742-2043

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Article
Publication date: 17 March 2020

Girish Balasubramanian and Santanu Sarkar

This paper uses the Social Identity Model of Collective Action (SIMCA) framework of Zomeren et al. (2008) to explain the organising experiences of the informal sector…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper uses the Social Identity Model of Collective Action (SIMCA) framework of Zomeren et al. (2008) to explain the organising experiences of the informal sector workers engaged in large number in the world's largest shipbreaking industry located in the western Indian town of Alang.

Design/methodology/approach

A single case study approach was adopted to understand the participation of shipbreaking workers in their trade union and factors that influence their participation.

Findings

Sense of cohesive collective identity and injustice alongside efficacy considerations have shaped the organising experiences and affected the participation of informal sector workers in their union. The trade union was able to overcome the scourge of invisibility that has been one of the dominant features of informal sector employment.

Research limitations/implications

This paper treated union participation as unidimensional. Besides, the subjective conceptualization of strengths of perceptions of injustice, identities and efficacy considerations could be a limitation. The paper does acknowledge the gendered nature of shipbreaking but have not actively pursued it as a part of our research.

Practical implications

The findings of our study are an exemplar for those who intend to organise informal sector workers, especially precarious workers. The empirical findings allude to the role of trade unions in combating the invisibility, which is one of the defining features of informal sector workers through a distinctive, cohesive identity inculcated in those workers.

Originality/value

This paper has borrowed the SIMCA framework to explore union participation. Organising experiences of precarious workers from the developing world provides a contextual and an empirical novelty to our study.

Details

Employee Relations: The International Journal, vol. 42 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2005

Miguel Martínez Lucio and Steve Walker

The article aims to look at the development of the internet in terms of its implications for the labour movement and its international activities.

Abstract

Purpose

The article aims to look at the development of the internet in terms of its implications for the labour movement and its international activities.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper brings together conclusions and findings based on the previous work of the two individual authors who have studied the role of the internet from a national and international perspective, using a range of methodologies.

Findings

The impact of the internet in terms of facilitating communication and renewal strategies has been highly significant. However, the authors argue that such developments are also mediated by trade union structures and organisational traditions/ideologies at the national level where there is still a considerable degree of variety. It also looks and focuses on some of the challenges of international labour co‐ordination through the use of the internet, noting some of the difficulties faced by trade unionists. The paper therefore brings together insights into the way organisations such as trade unions interact with such developments both at the national and international level.

Originality/value

The article emphasises the need to develop a political and sociological understanding of the internet within industrial relations and in terms of future research.

Details

Critical perspectives on international business, vol. 1 no. 2/3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1742-2043

Keywords

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