2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Fractured Unions: The Historicization of the Trade Union Movement and the Fight to Incite the Tolerant

The fragmentation of the modern workforce means that trade unions now face the challenge of making themselves appear both relevant and useful to people’s working lives. Increasingly precarious and service based jobs mean that people no longer identify with their work as strongly as they once did, and increasingly isolated jobs make it hard to connect with other workers both mentally and physically.

Industrial action is only possible through mass organisation and, the aged concept of what the unions represent, who and what they are fighting for is an increasing problem for the unions and the people they claim to defend. Engaging workers in their defensive aims against unfair working practices and low wages whilst funding this action through membership maintenance is a constant battle for the Trade unions.

This project seeks to address the issue of inciting action amongst an increasingly tolerant workforce resigned to mistreatment as a standard, due to the problems of late stage capitalism. It will make use of Gramsci’s Marxism in exploring the historicization of the trade union movement, and to provide a springboard for potential actions which could reinstate the trade unions into every workers mind as their first line of defence for fair and fulfilling working practices.

The stage of the modern workforce will be set by Virno’s postmodern neomarxist thought, in describing the fragmentary nature of our industries and working identities. To fight for a cause, a person must first identify with it, and be given sufficient evidence that the fight is worth their increasingly diminished time and effort.

The current wave of strike action along with the governments minimum service levels bill has brought the trade unions back into the national consciousness providing an opportune period to reinstate themselves in workers minds as the defensive institutions they claim to be. The minimum service levels bill will be used as an object to orientate the discussion, in its blatant attack on the right to strike for all of the UK workforce while using the fragmented nature of work to its advantage.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

How Legitimate is Industrial Action and What is its Purpose?

I have looked at KARL MARX and his theory to try and decide whether strike action is legitimate and what purpose it plays.

Marx would have supported the miners’ strike and seen it as legitimate as it was the working class seizing the means of production. However he would not see the teachers strike as legitimate as it was too individualistic and too led by capitalist values.

Within my project I have focused on how legitimate strike action is. It seems that public perception had changed in the last 30 years and I have endeavoured to uncover why this is.

Despite feeling that industrial action is legitimate I found it difficult to show this in regards to the teachers strike … but it just feels somehow wrong.

The other philosopher I have focused on within my project is JOHN LOCKE. He again would see the miners’ strike as legitimate as their rights were being threatened and therefore it was their duty to show discontent for this. After all, we only enter into a society to have our natural rights protected. Yet, Locke was unable to justify the teachers strike.