Union Co-Operation in a Context of Job Insecurity: Negotiated Outcomes from Teamworking

23 Pages Posted: 25 May 2006

See all articles by Nicholas Bacon

Nicholas Bacon

Nottingham University Business School

Paul Blyton

Cardiff University Business School


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.

Suggested Citation

Bacon, Nicholas and Blyton, Paul, Union Co-Operation in a Context of Job Insecurity: Negotiated Outcomes from Teamworking. British Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 44, No. 2, pp. 215-237, June 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=903556 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8543.2006.00495.x

Nicholas Bacon

Nottingham University Business School ( email )

Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom

Paul Blyton (Contact Author)

Cardiff University Business School ( email )

Aberconway Building
Colum Drive
Cardiff, CF10 3EU
United Kingdom
+ 44 (0) 29 20 875725 (Phone)
+ 44 (0)29 20874419 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/carbs/hrm/blyton/blyton1.html

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