Edited by Ronald J. Burke and Silvia Pignata
Chapter 3: Trade unions and stress at work: the evolving responses and politics of health and safety strategies in the case of the United Kingdom
The chapter aims to explain the way trade unions have developed a range of strategies in relation to questions of stress at work in the public sector of the United Kingdom. The responses are outlined in relation to various dimensions: the relation between trade unions and the state, the collective realm of the trade union representation, the individual support and guidance trade unions provide to workers, and the social and community dimension of trade union engagement. Across these four dimensions there have been highly proactive strategies related to responding to the emergence of higher levels of stress at work. In terms of challenges, the following are outlined as being significant: the growing neoliberal orientation of the state and challenges to trade union presence, the manner in which employers and managers have tried to monopolize or abuse – on occasions – the discourse of well-being to limit trade union roles and to individualize the issue of stress, and the way organizational and political pressure on trade unions are creating barriers in terms their strategic abilities to respond to changes at work.
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