Donnelly, E. and Kiely, J., 2007. Union Learning Representatives: Championing Unions or (Just) Learning? In: International Employment Relations Association Conference, 10-12 July 2007, Canterbury, England. (Unpublished)
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This paper reports on findings from a qualitative study of union learning reps (ULRs) in the South West Region of England. It focuses on their participation as learning activists in workplace organising and branch activity and in support of broader union renewal strategies. To this end, twelve ULRs and four project workers representing four trade unions (USDAW, T&G, Amicus and Community) within the retail, distribution, engineering and manufacturing sectors were interviewed. Participants were asked to reflect on routes into the ULR role and its prioritisation, on their relationship with branch structures and their identification with branch activism beyond learning and on their preparedness to deal with employers and their managers Key findings suggest that a dichotomy has evolved within this new representative system between those already experienced and those completely new to branch activism in terms of their specific disposition towards union organising. In the latter case, their identification with the role is too narrowly encased within a learning framework rather than towards generic union representation, as with their more experienced counterparts. Seemingly, it is the attributes of new activists themselves as much as their isolation from both local branch and management structures that militates against their sustained commitment to workplace organising. These findings appear to challenge earlier studies that emphasise the more structural impediments to ULRs’ branch activism. Conclusions are drawn in ways that identify appropriate union interventions (for example, negotiating skills and mentoring) aimed at re-orientating new activists away from servicing to organising behaviours. The case is also made for further research that examines the character of this self-imposed demarcation by ULRs between branch and learning representation as revealed through this preliminary study.
|Item Type:||Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)|
|Subjects:||Social Sciences > Sociology|
Social Sciences > Economics
|Group:||Business School > Centre for Research in Management|
|Deposited By:||INVALID USER|
|Deposited On:||22 Dec 2008 20:30|
|Last Modified:||07 Mar 2013 15:02|
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