1st Edition

The Meaning of Militancy? Postal Workers and Industrial Relations

By Gregor Gall Copyright 2003
    364 Pages
    by Routledge

    This title was  first published in 2003.This book explores many of the major issues of concern to researchers studying trade unionism. It offers: a definition, elaboration and contextualisation of militancy (industrial, union and worker); an examination of the relationship between workplace unionism and the wider body of the union; a study of factionalism and industrial and political consciousness: and an analysis of the construction and mobilisation of conflict and cooperation (social partnership). These themes are considered through examining the relatively militant response of British postal workers to increased commercialisation of their industry. By comparing this response to that of postal workers in nine other major industrial countries, the study provides an explanation of why UK postal workers have been relatively successful in resisting new management techniques and privatisation through militancy and oppositionalism. One aspect given particular attention is the uneasy relationship within the postal workers' union between shop floor militancy and the social partnership approach followed by the union's leadership.

    Contents: Introduction; Worker militancy, trade unionism and industrial relations; Royal Mail's business, industrial and political environments; Strikes in Royal Mail: volumes and trends; The 1988 national postal strike; The 1996 national postal strike; Strike propensity and strike potency; Strike organisation and strike characteristics; The politics and consciousness of postal workers; Assessing militancy; Comparative positions and processes; Conclusion; Postscript; Appendices; References; Index.


    Gregor Gall, Dr, Reader in Industrial Relations, Department of Management and Organization, University of Stirling, Scotland

    'Amidst the general decline in strike activity in Britain postal workers have emerged in recent years as one of the most strike prone groups of employees. The story of how they came to play this role is told persuasively and in great detail in Gregor Gall's new book. It will be invaluable reading both for those interested in union and worker militancy and for those concerned about the future of the labour movement.' Professor John Kelly, London School of Economics, UK 'The book is...important as an historical testament to a key moment in British industrial relations and as an insight into the contradictory nature of militancy...What Gall has shown us is how a tradition of militancy emerged in a context where militancy had been weak. In this respect, his methodology and his detailed approach is one of the strengths of the book.' Industrial Relations Journal 'Through a highly detailed account of the postal workers' growing and sustained combativity since the 1970s, Gall sketches a real political economy of the contemporary workplace...The book...remains a major addition to the recent history of the British labour movement.' Journal of Industrial Relations