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Title: Workplace mediation and trade unions : friends or foes? : a study of UK trade unions' attitudes and experiences
Author: Branney, Virginia Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 9357 7668
Awarding Body: University of Central Lancashire
Current Institution: University of Central Lancashire
Date of Award: 2020
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Workplace mediation is a facilitative process for dealing with conflict between individuals in the workplace whereby a third party (the mediator), assists them to reach a mutually agreed outcome. Existing literature on the contemporary management of individual conflict in UK organisations includes studies of unionised employers’ use of workplace mediation. What distinguishes this study is its focus on trade union attitudes towards, and experiences of, workplace mediation, and its theoretically based approach. The findings derive mainly from exploratory multiple case studies of the involvement of UNISON and Communication Workers Union (CWU) representatives with mediation in the workplace. The UNISON cases feature ‘workplace mediation’ of individual employees’ grievances in different public sector organisations. In contrast, the CWU cases feature ‘industrial relations (IR) mediation’, conducted at workplace level, under the auspices of a collective dispute resolution procedure agreed nationally by the Royal Mail and CWU. Notwithstanding the differences between workplace and IR mediation, including the nature of union involvement, both modes of mediation apply the facilitative practice model associated with the resolution of individual grievances. The findings are analysed from different industrial relations perspectives on work (Heery, 2016) in relation to three themes: incorporation, union displacement and union revitalisation. From a critical pluralist perspective, the study concludes that the extent to which workplace mediation and trade unions could be considered “friends” or “foes” depended on a range of contextual factors. In summary, these factors were employers’ objectives in adopting mediation in the workplace; the degree to which employers involved recognised unions in introducing and operating workplace mediation in their organisations; and the willingness and capacity of trade unions to independently engage with employers over its adoption and use. It is argued that unions could better equip their representatives to critically appraise the ideology and core tenets underpinning the practice of UK workplace mediation. This would assist in enabling unions to enhance employee voice and equity in the process and avoid the potential pitfalls of its use in resolving workplace conflict.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: N611 - Industrial relations