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Constraints on union organising

[Ed Heery, Cardiff University] and Melanie Simms
Industrial Relations Journal, 39,1, 24 - 42


Despite increased investment by unions in organising, across much of the developed world there is at best modest evidence of a recovery of union membership. This has led to a research interest in the barriers to successful union organising and it is with this critical issue that the following article is concerned. It uses survey and interview data from trainee organisers in Britain to identify the internal and external constraints they have encountered while working on organising campaigns. The findings point to a broad range of organising constraints both within and beyond trade unions. Experience of constraints varies and is shown partly to be a function of the characteristics of organisers, the nature of the organising task in which they are engaged and the systems in place to manage their work.