Union Co-Operation in a Context of Job Insecurity: Negotiated Outcomes from Teamworking
23 Pages Posted: 25 May 2006
This paper explores the 'mutual gains' argument that employees benefit when teamworking is introduced alongside employee involvement in problem-solving and within a co-operative industrial relations climate. It reports worker outcomes from negotiations to introduce teamworking across two steelworks. Moderate union branches and employees at one of the works (Scunthorpe) co-operated with managers in joint problem-solving teams to redesign work. However, contrary to mutual gains expectations, greater job insecurity at this works coerced union branches to accept teamworking agreements containing extensive demanning and a pay increase for fewer employees. Employees perceived greater job security at the other works (Teesside) and by rejecting joint problem-solving with managers, militant union branches protected more jobs and extracted higher payment for teamworking. The findings indicate that job insecurity can lead co-operative unions down a slippery slope of coerced co-operation restricting employee benefits from teamworking.
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