This chapter considers the purpose and form of union voice. It charts the development of ‘voice’ as a means of describing union representation and explores the implications of changes to both labour market structures and the nature of the employment relationship for union voice. It then examines the various levels at which union voice is expressed and, in so doing, highlights the key differences between union voice and other forms of worker voice. Finally, it offers some observations about the possible future of union voice.
Sarah Kaine, Frances Flanagan and Katherine Ravenswood
The Future of Work (FoW) has become a ubiquitous topic of commentary as scholars and policy makers grapple with the economic and social challenges to accepted practice and understanding of employment caused by technological advancement. However, gender has largely been overlooked in research about automation, AI and the development of the gig economy, which are most often the focus of debates concerning the FoW. This is in part the result of the failure of traditional employment relations research to engage with gender in a nuanced and meaningful way. This chapter begins to fill this gap by examining current understandings of gender discrimination, voice and prospects for gender equality in the electronically mediated ‘gig economy’. Specifically, we point to gaps in research that, combined, suggest an agenda for ongoing inquiry. Finally, we note the continuing need to challenge claims that digitally mediated work is ‘gender blind’ and highlight the ways in which the gig economy might perpetuate and entrench gender inequality.