How Far are Trade Unions Democratic Organisations?


Here’s my latest essay as part of the MA.  Another good result, just shy of a distinction.  I’ve spent the last week at the PCS conference where delegates continually trot out the view that their union is democratic and member-led whilst then applauding the top committee as being great leaders.  It’s an interesting subtlety that shows that member-led initiatives are set into the processes of the union but in between these set pieces activists look towards that top committee for direction and judge them accordingly.  The result is that as a union PCS occasionally looks to the members for direction but the vast majority of the time it is a union obsessed with strong figures and committees where all the classic rules of bureaucracy and oligarchy come to the fore.

The essay isn’t about PCS specifically.  It is about the history of democracy in the trade union movement and what we could aim for in the future to renew and revive the movement.  In particular I focus on developments in anarchist circles as showing an ideal in terms of democratic structure.  You can read the essay below.

How Far Are Trade Unions Democratic Organisations

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