New Contexts and Challenges in Europe
Edited by Stefania Marino, Judith Roosblad and Rinus Penninx
Chapter 11: Trade unions and migrant workers in the UK: Organising in a cold climate
The challenges facing trade unions up until the late 1990s and early 2000s were chiefly around racism and discrimination in employment and in the trade union movement itself. Since 2004 and with the accession of Central and Eastern European countries, trade unions have been responding to a more complex set of issues. Trade unions have had some success engaging with migrant workers in the workplace, through organising and learning strategies, and have also engaged in campaigns to improve the rights and position of black and minority ethnic workers within trade unions and in the workplace. However, much trade union activity relating to migrant workers is reliant on particular sets of circumstances such as a strong regional union branches, dedicated union officers or external funding. Without broader coordinated action and long-term strategies for greater collective regulation and support from the state, much trade union work done, often more progressive than other countries, remains small scale, fragmented and resting on precarious foundations.
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