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Trade union organising

Details of two current projects in this area of research are given here:  

Evaluating recent developments in union organiser training

An 18 month research project funded by the Nuffield Foundation

Principal Researchers: Dr Melanie Simms and Dr Jane Holgate (Working Lives Research Institute, London Metropolitan University).

This project has been completed and the project report  'Evaluating recent developments in training trade union organisers' is available to download here

Aims and objectives:

1.         The project will accumulate a new body of information arising from interviews, surveys, focus groups and participant observation with trade union officials as they proceed through their training, highlighting the impact this has on changing attitudes, policies and practices in respect of initiatives designed to achieve membership growth.

2.         The project will also track the careers of those who have been working as organisers for some time, noting any differences or difficulties faced according to age, gender and ethnic group and the impact this has on organisational approaches.

 3.         By involving the TUC, unions and officials in the research design, implementation and dissemination of the research, the project adopts an ‘action-oriented’ methodological approach, with the objective of contributing policy, practice and proposals that we hope will be beneficial to all participants.

 4.         At a conceptual level we will engage with literature and debates across a range of academic disciplines, including geography, sociology and industrial relations in order to establish linkages between strategic policy, training, organisational change and resistance, and the uneven geographical patterns of labour and unionisation.

 Rethinking mobilisation: two cases of contingent workers

A 12 month research project funded by the Research Development Fund, Warwick Business School

Principal Researchers: Dr Melanie Simms and Dr Deborah Dean

 Research aims:

 The central research question that we seek to address is to compare and contrast the ways in which two groups of contingent workers (fixed-term contract workers in higher education and performers in the entertainment industry) have mobilised to establish and improve their terms and conditions of employment. By comparing case studies of two unions and two sectors, we endeavour both to build a new dataset and to contribute to theory in this area.

Specifically, we are seeking to:

•           Analyse the conditions under which mobilisation of contingent workers has occurred.
•           Evaluate the challenges and barriers to unions seeking to mobilise these workers.
•           Explore whether Kelly’s mobilisation theory provides a relevant framework for understanding the process of collectivising and mobilising contingent workers.