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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.
Ed Blissett (PhD) is Senior Lecturer in Employment Relations at the University of Hertfordshire. Prior to taking up this post Ed was, for over twenty years, a lay activist and then a senior Regional and National officer for three of Britain’s largest trade unions. His roles included four years as Regional Secretary of the GMB London Region. These positions saw him play a central part in local and national union policy-making and granted him extensive first-hand knowledge of those factors which shape union policy formation. His background as a senior union officer also assisted him in gaining unprecedented access to the Australian and British printing and telecommunication unions, which allows this book to give a unique insight into the richly complex process of union policy-making.