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Trade Union Policy and Strategy

This research looks at trade union strategies towards contemporary issues in the workplace and in society more broadly, with a focus on comparative trade union responses towards migrant workers and social inclusion, and the extent and limits of radical union strategies in European countries.

Research highlights

A comparative study of union responses to migration and social inclusion in the UK, Spain and the Netherlands. This study draws on data collected from a Leverhulme funded project working with Professor Miguel Martinez Lucio and Dr Stefania Marino at the University of Manchester. The research was collected between 2008-2011 and data analysis is ongoing and being updated. The main comparative paper entitled 'Trade union strategy and the challenge of solidarity: comparing and contrasting trade union responses to migration in the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom' published in the European Journal of Industrial Relations (2014). It finds that although different responses to migration to a certain extent reflect regulatory contexts and that there is a certain degree of path-dependency within each set of responses, trade unions keep an active role in building up their own strategies and responding to these external factors. It proposes a model which identifies three dominant responses to migration that have emerged – that being responses around ‘class’, ‘race’ and ‘social rights.

The limits and potential of radical political unionism in France and Britain. This research project funded by the British Academy from 2010-2013 involves a comparative study of the railway unions SUD-Rail in France and the RMT in Britain working with Professor Ralph Darlington at the University of Salford. It documents the dynamics of union militancy and assesses the conditions, issues and causes that give rise to it; contrasts the extent to which union leadership, notably left-wing activists, have been an important contributory catalyst, symptom and beneficiary of such radicalised political unionism; and evaluates both the successes and limitations of the militant approach adopted. The paper 'Radical unionism in France and Britain: A comparative study of SUD-Rail and the RMT' was published in the European Journal of Industrial Relations (2012) explores the research findings so far.

Radical unions in Europe and the future of collective interest representation. This project has produced an edited collection which maps the extent and nature of radical unionism in a number of European countries in the context of economic crisis and austerity. The country studies have been conducted by experts working in the field and include Britain, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.

Selected outputs:

Connolly, H, Martinez Lucio, M and Marino, S. (2014) ‘'Trade Union Strategy and the Challenge of Solidarity: Comparing and Contrasting Trade Union Responses to Migration in the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom', European Journal of Industrial Relations, 20 (1), 5-20.

Marino, S., Connolly, H. and Martinez Lucio, M. (2013) 'L'adozione delle strategie di organzing in Olanda: tra tradizione e innovazione' Quaderni Rassegna Sindacale, 4: 2013

Martinez Lucio, M., Marino, S. and Connolly, H. (2013) 'Broadening and re-imagining regulation: Trade unions, 'active servicing' and immigration in Spain since the early 1990s'. Journal of Industrial Relations, 55 (2), pp. 190-211.

Connolly, H and Darlington, R. (2012) ‘Radical Political Unionism in France and Britain: A Comparative Study of SUD-Rail and the RMT’, European Journal of Industrial Relations, 18(3), 235-250.

Connolly, H. (2012) ‘Union renewal in France and Hyman’s Universal Dualism’, Special issue in honour of Richard Hyman, Capital & Class, 36 (1), 117-134.

Martinez Lucio, M. and Connolly, H. (2011) ‘Contextualizing Voice and Stakeholders: Researching Employment Relations, Immigration and Trade Unions’, Journal of Business Ethics, 97, 19-29.


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