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(How) can international trade union organisations be democratic?

Hyman, Richard and Gumbrell-McCormick, Rebecca (2020) (How) can international trade union organisations be democratic? Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research. ISSN 1024-2589

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Identification Number: 10.1177/1024258920938499


International trade union organisations, like unions at national level, commonly affirm their commitment to internal democracy. But what does this mean? There exists a vast literature on union democracy, addressing the questions whether democracy in trade unions is desirable; whether it is possible; and if so, how it can be achieved. However, the focus of analysis is almost exclusively at the national (or sub-national) level, with the premise that union members are individual workers. But international unions (like many national confederations indeed) do not have individual workers as members: they are organisations of organisations. What does this imply for our understanding of union democracy? We begin our article by summarising the broader literature on union democracy, then develop an interpretation of international unions as ‘meta-organisations’. We next explore some of the implications for debates on democracy at international level, and end by asking whether theories of deliberative democracy can help in understanding the options for international union democracy.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Author(s)
Divisions: Management
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2020 13:12
Last Modified: 06 Aug 2020 11:03

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