The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

# Trade union organisation and new technology bargaining

Jary, John Stephen (1990) Trade union organisation and new technology bargaining. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

## Abstract

This thesis examines the union response to industrial change, using technological change as experienced by one Region of the Transport and General Workers' Union as a critical case'. Issues explored include the generally low level of union involvement in technological change, the form and likely effectiveness of union responses to wider shifts in the economy and, at a practical level, the potential for improved union activity in these spheres. The first section develops an analytical framework for the study of union activity and technological and industrial change. A sociological approach to workplace union power is developed and related to a theoretical analysis of industrial relations structures and processes. Union organisation is seen as a key power resource - a major determinant of union power which is, in large part, under the unions' control. In examining the nature of technology, the ideological force of technology as progress' and the widespread perception of its inevitability are noted as important explanatory factors in unions' lack of intervention in the change process; change itself is modelled as a five stage process. Current changes in industrial and employment structure are then examined and the extent to which they pose a challenge to union organisation assessed. The second section presents empirical material on the TGWU's involvement in technological change in five workplaces, examining the outcomes of the change and the degree of influence the union sought and achieved in each. The widely acknowledged picture of less than optimum union involvement is confirmed, although there were marked differences between the cases. The success' of union action is, it is suggested, considerably determined by the sophistication' of the workplace organisation and the degree to which it is integrated' with the wider union. The responses of the official' union, at Regional level, to various structural changes are also examined. Including new organisational and recruitment initiatives together with moves towards increased administrative efficiency, it is argued that a number of organisational and political constraints appear to be inhibiting the Region's adaptation. The thesis concludes with a proposal that a more `strategic' approach is required on the part of the unions. It is suggested that this study's identification of key factors in workplace union power and constraints on modernisation provide possible directions for an improved union response.

Published date: 1990

## Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 460725
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/460725
PURE UUID: 25a0479b-de95-4069-a5b2-f786958dcd36

## Catalogue record

Date deposited: 04 Jul 2022 18:28

## Contributors

Author: John Stephen Jary