Type of Content: Research

Subtype: Journal Article

Resource Title: Trade Union Responses to Ageing Workplaces: Lessons from the UK

Publication Title: Work, Aging and Retirement, 7(4), 273-287

Publish Date: October 20, 2021

In 2017, European-level unions and business associations agreed a framework for national and workplace level employers and union representatives to take collaborative action to design workforce responses to demographic ageing. This article discusses how unions are responding to pressures to extend working life in the UK. Drawing on industrial relations and social movement literature, it argues that unions pursue the twin strategies of working in partnership with like-minded employers to reorient workplaces towards an age friendly model while organizing and campaigning with members to secure conditions consistent with active and healthy ageing. Resisting an erosion of pension and retirement rights and extending employment protection are examples of this approach, but numerous lower profile initiatives by workplace representatives are also reflective of their having an age friendly agenda. Using qualitative data from focus group discussions with union representatives in two sectors, the article shows that union responses are rooted in both of the dominant models of British unionism—the organizing and partnership models—and argues that literature on social movements helps to understand how union representatives reconcile the competing pressures.

Trade Union Responses to Ageing Workplaces: Lessons from the UK