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    (How) Can international trade union organizations be democratic?

    Hyman, R. and Gumbrell-McCormick, Rebecca (2020) (How) Can international trade union organizations be democratic? Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research 26 (3), pp. 253-272. ISSN 1024-2589.

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    International trade union organizations, 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 organizations of organizations. What does this imply for our understanding of union democracy? We begin our article by summarizing the broader literature on union democracy, then develop an interpretation of international unions as ‘meta-organizations’. 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
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): trade unions, democracy union democracy, international trade unionism
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Business and Law > Birkbeck Business School
    Depositing User: Rebecca Gumbrell-McCormick
    Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2020 10:00
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:00


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