Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the evidence for trade union renewal in the UK fire service. Its aim is to consider two main questions: “How have union‐management relations and the industrial relations climate been affected by management reforms?” and “To the extent that there is deterioration in the IR climate, has this had an effect on union leadership style and also on union commitment and participation amongst ordinary members?” Design/methodology/approach – The paper draws on interviews with managers and union representatives and a survey of firefighters in the north of England. Findings – The research finds that a marked deterioration in the industrial relations climate led to changes in union leadership and to an increase in union commitment and participation amongst ordinary members. The poor climate created the conditions for union renewal by bringing forward union activists with more inclusive styles and by raising membership awareness of the need to vigorously defend their existing terms and conditions. Research limitations/implications – There is a research gap in the industrial relations literature on how industrial relations climate impacts on the renewal of workplace trade unionism. Originality/value – This paper helps to fill the research gap in the industrial relations literature on how industrial relations climate impacts on the renewal of workplace trade unionism.
Employee Relations: An International Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 1, 2006
Keywords: Industrial relations; Trade unions; Fire services; Employee attitudes; England
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