Trade union responses to ageing workforces in the UK and Germany

Flynn, Matthew, Upchurch, Martin ORCID logoORCID:, Muller-Camen, Michael and Schroeder, Heike (2013) Trade union responses to ageing workforces in the UK and Germany. Human Relations, 66 (1) . pp. 45-64. ISSN 0018-7267 [Article] (doi:10.1177/0018726712464801)


Ageing workforces are placing conflicting pressures on European trade unions in order to, on the one hand, protect pensions and early retirement routes, and, on the other, promote human resource management (HRM) policies geared towards enabling their older members to extend working life. Using interviews from German and United Kingdom (UK) trade unions, we discuss how unions are both constrained and enabled by pre-existing institutional structures in advocating approaches to age management. In Germany, some unions use their strong institutional role to affect public policy and industrial change at national and sectoral levels. UK unions have taken a more defensive approach, focused on protecting pension rights. The contrasting varieties of capitalism, welfare systems and trade unions’ own orientations are creating different pressures and mechanisms to which unions need to respond. While the German inclusive system is providing unions with mechanisms for negotiating collectively at the national level, UK unions’ activism remains localized.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > Business School > Leadership, Work and Organisations
A. > Business School > Leadership, Work and Organisations > Employment Relations group
Item ID: 10956
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Depositing User: Users 3197 not found.
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2013 11:28
Last Modified: 09 May 2019 18:28

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