Union Organising and the Health of the Union Movement in Britain (Download)

Gregor Gall assesses the impact the “union organising” agenda has had on the health of trade unions in Britain over the last 10 years.

Gregor Gall | Feb 2020
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About the book

This timely publication by Gregor Gall assesses the impact the “union organising” agenda has had on the health of trade unions in Britain over the last 10 years. An expert in industrial relations and a keen observer of trade union trends, Gall outlines the history, form, extent and effectiveness of what he refers to as a “step change” in trade unionism in Britain. Drawing upon research undertaken by the author and others over the past 20 years, he examines the “union organising” model – tracking where, when and how the concept developed and comparing the UK model with those developed in America, Australia and New Zealand.

Seriously weakened by legal, ideological and industrial attacks from the Tories in the 80’s and 90’s, unions looked to parliament under New Labour for changes to the law and to partnership agreements in the workplace. Neither worked. Disillusioned by both, unions turned back towards their members, emphasising the need to grow from the bottom up and the result, according to the author, is “better planned, more systematic, more strategic and better resourced targeting of workers in a more effective way and with a collective identity”. Is that enough? In the absence of a coherent “challenge from below” amongst workers, the administrative efficiency and organising effectiveness offered by the union organising agenda may provide the basis for defending and protecting trade unionism in hostile times. The author concludes by encouraging unions to stringently review organising agendas to ensure new and effective practices are developed to tackle economic constraints and judical challenges.


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