chapter  10
16 Pages

Conclusions—Challenges from Inside and Outside the Union

WithGERALDINE HEALY, GILL KIRTON

What we have found also is that a lot of our long time activists are retiring or getting old and we have not trained the next generation. So that is a challenge as well and you don’t have that many young people coming in. A lot of the new workers are in this electronic age, they don’t want to come up to meetings and so the workforce and their attitude towards the union is also changing and we need to fi gure that out and luckily through our younger staff, the union has to fi gure out new ways of reaching workers and keeping them active. (Celia (USA): unassigned ethnicity; Level 1 lay leader; public sector union; age 36-45)

In Chapter 1 (this volume) we talked about the contrast between unions seeking to survive by maintaining their members but not by changing their way of working, what we called status quo survival. At the same time, we argued for the importance of union transformation where unions took on board the changes in union membership and changed with them. Celia in the preceding quotation is going further and outlining the challenges from within unions by focusing on age and different ways of working. The speed of the technological changes in communication has resulted in different expectations between the generations in the way organizations work. Traditional ways of working are no longer suffi cient if unions are not going to slowly atrophy as their members retire.