Hollinrake, Alison, Antcliff, Valerie and Saundry, Richard
Explaining activity and exploring experience-findings from a survey of union learning representatives.
Industrial Relations Journal, 39
This article draws on data from one of the largest surveys to date of union learning representatives (ULRs) in order to build a unique picture of ULR experience and activity. It is found that ULRs made a contribution to increased diversity and represented an injection of ‘new blood’ within workplace union structures. Moreover, ULRs with no previous union involvement were just as likely to be active in promoting learning as their more experienced colleagues. At the same time, we found that a significant minority of trained ULRs were not active in union learning. While ULR activity was not confined within traditionally unionised settings, active and effective ULRs were most likely to be found in workplaces with substantive structures and institutions that underpinned union learning and reflected a clear commitment from the employer. ULR activity was more difficult to start and to sustain in workplaces in which this support was absent. The article concludes that in order for ULR activity to permeate such environments, some degree of additional statutory support may be necessary.