The persistence of power? : trade union workplace organisation and industrial relations in the Tyneside maritime construction industry
This thesis examines trade union workplace organisation, industrial relations and the nature of power in the employment relationship in the Tyneside Maritime Construction Industry (TMCI). It explores this in a context where trade union organisation could be expected to be severely challenged, but has proved to be remarkably resilient. The analysis was constructed from the literature and empirically grounded in the data. Firstly, it draws upon the union renewal debate and examines three themes identified as being the central features of workplace unionism; the effectiveness of shop steward organisation, levels of activity in membership participation and the significance of workplace democracy. The findings support other contributions to a thesis of workplace union resilience and add a further development to the debates by presenting evidence that suggests 'resilient renewal'. Secondly, the main intellectual approach adopted were models based upon mobilisation and social movement theories. Using these approaches in a micro level analysis of industrial relations helped to break down the employment relationship and draw out some significant issues. The key issues drawn out from this analysis suggest three significant features of the TMCI employment relationship. Firstly, that the workplace union organisation is resilient, secondly, that its influence in the employment relationship is powerful, and thirdly, that it is the collective identity that exists in the industry that gives them that power.