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Trade union government and membership participation: a study of the National Union of Teachers

Seifert, Roger Victor (1980) Trade union government and membership participation: a study of the National Union of Teachers. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The main object of study is the impact of politically leftwing trade union activists on union democracy and membership participation. The fieldwork was carried out in four local associations of the NUT between 1973-1975. The main conclusion is that where there are competing left factions locally then activists become more active, there are more activists, and that members are more likely to participate in direct action. At the same time, however, activists are likely to become less representative, debates less familiar, ordinary members are less able to make decisions, and the national union will develop methods of reducing local autonomy and the power of local activists. This finding I refer to as the democratic paradox. In order to develop this thesis it was necessary to examine the relative loss in earnings of schoolteachers and changes in their work (Chapter 2, part 1) as well as changes in teacher trade unions (Chapter 2, part 2). Having noted some objective reasons for an upsurge in teacher militancy and leftwing politics I next examined the main political positions found amongst local activists with regard to the role of teachers and teacher trade unions. These groups were the Rank and File, the broad left, and the orthodox representative democrats (Chapter 3). Armed with knowledge of objective conditions and the aims and strategies of local activists the study examined one local association in detail. Chapter 4 part 1 looks mainly at the relationship between active and inactive members. Part 2 of the chapter examines the interaction between a leftwing set of activists in one local and its relations with the national union in three case studies - Young Teachers, London allowance and The Wandsworth Three (Chapter 4, part 2). Finally the study takes the lessons from one association and applies them to three other local associations (Chapter 5). The main areas of analysis are over the competition for leadership (representativeness), the competition for policy (familiarity of debated issues), and the competition for action by ordinary members (decision-making capacity of the rank-and-file).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 1980 Roger Victor Seifert
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
L Education > L Education (General)

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