Community as a (f)actor in trade union revitalization

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2013
Thesis identifier
  • T13561
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • Trade union decline has been considerable over the past three decades but it undesirable and unwelcome given unions' roles in industrial relations, economics and civil society. Unions have engaged in a welter of responses to revitalise themselves. Yet decline continues and organising, the hitherto preeminent and preferred strategy to counter it, is not succeeding in achieving its aims, thus focus needs to be turned to other potential strategies. Despite an increasing literature on community unionism as a revitalisation strategy there is a dearth of UK examples of it being pursued and there is little empirical study of individual unions and whether and how community, consciously or not, features as part of their revitalisation strategies. This research seeks to partially address that gap; informed by a realist perspective and a critical stance, it uses a case study of a single, UK, public-sector trade union and poses the research question: to what extent is, or can be, community a (f)actor in trade union revitalisation? The research highlights continuing challenges for the case study union in its quest to revitalise both internally and externally. The union is unashamedly political, weaving its political priorities into its bargaining, organising and campaigning. The union sees the resultant mobilisation activity, coupled with good bread-and-butter services, as its best retention strategy. The research found that community could be an element in union revitalisation, and that community features in the case study union's revitalisation approach although there is no distinct community strategy. The union's dominant sectoral position, with its range of union-friendly arrangements, and its inherited substantial levels of density and organisation are not found everywhere. It is not, therefore, a transferable model although lessons, ideas and practices can and should be drawn upon where possible.
Resource Type
Date Created
  • 2013
Former identifier
  • 1001556