Global trade union organisation recognises WISERD’s research impact

The importance of a new report Trade Union Responses to the Changing World of Work, written by Dr Helen Blakely and Dr Steve Davies, which looks at the trade union responses to the changing world of work around the world, has been recognised by UNI Global Union. In a letter from UNI Global Union’s General Secretary, Christy Hoffman, to Dr Blakley and Dr Davies, they are thanked for providing ‘such an important body of research’.

She states that their presentation and report were of high interest to the hundreds of union leaders from over 460 organisations at the UNI Global Union’s Fifth World Congress in Liverpool on 19 June 2018. In particular, she singles out the significance of their conclusions concerning how to use collective bargaining as a remedy for the ails of digitilisation and the crucial role unions play in social cohesion.

Her letter acknowledges their report as ‘a defining point of reference to guide our thinking on the subject…’.

The report focuses on the strategic capacity of unions to both develop old, and build new resources and capabilities in response to the rapidly changing world of work. While there are important variations across countries and regions, a number of global trends present challenges to trade unions such as changing forms of employment, digitalisation, automation and outsourcing of work.


Dr Blakely and Dr Davies looked at 25 case studies from five continents, they demonstrate in varying ways how trade unions are able to enact change. Some of the cases show trade unions are using genuinely new approaches, however often it is the application of traditional methods and ideas in a new or different context, or transferred from one country to another or one sector to another to provide a breakthrough.

The study shows the role of union agency in transforming difficult situations into opportunities for union growth and bargaining gains. The report concludes that the research found that through the use of combined and complementary strategies, it is possible for unions to draw upon, strengthen and create new sources of power to find direct and indirect routes to sustainable gains.

Read the full report.