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Inside the Unions

A Comparative Analysis of Policy-Making in Australian and British Printing and Telecommunication Trade Unions


Ed Blisset

This book consists of a comparative analysis of policy-making in Australian and British telecommunications and printing trade unions. It tests the validity of different theoretical models of union policy-making and behaviour, whilst also assessing the strength of the book’s hypothesis, that informal micro-political influences inside unions – such as personal friendships, enmities and loyalties – affect union policy-making to a greater extent than has been previously acknowledged in the literature.
Two central questions lie at the heart of this book: How, and why, do unions adopt specific policies? What factors explain the different behaviour of similar unions, when faced with comparable policy choices?
As a former senior union officer the author realised that trade unions are often wary of publically disclosing those factors which informed their policy choices. For this reason an interview-rich methodology was adopted, which involved a seventeen-year longitudinal study, in which over 220 officers and staff of all the relevant unions, were interviewed in depth. The result is a book which throws new light on the rich and complex process of union policy-making.


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Appendix 1 List of Participants


In order to protect the identities of participants, which was guaranteed prior to interview, the following list does not identify contributors by name or union. It does however indicate the post the interviewee held and whether they were from a British or Australian union. British Unions Position in union Number of interviewees General Secretaries 5 National Presidents 4 National Of ficers 33 National Executive/Council Members 26 Regional Of ficers 9 Branch Secretaries 23 FoCs/MoCs 15 Other branch and chapel of ficers 9 Lay members 4 Australian Unions Federal Secretaries 7 Federal Presidents 5 340 Appendix 1 Federal Of ficers 14 State Secretaries 26 Federal Executive Members1 7 State Branch Of ficers 37 FoCs/MoCs and State Delegates 13 Lay members 5 Miscellaneous interviewees Managers 9 Academics 5 46 contributors were interviewed twice, whilst 27 participants were inter- viewed three times or more. 1 In all the featured Australian unions the State Secretaries sat on the Federal Executive Committee.

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