Union Elections: Marketing ‘Modern’ Unionism
chapterposted on 2021-10-19, 04:49 authored by K Geenen, Thomas McNamaraThomas McNamara
This chapter explores the relationship between trade unionists and employers in mining companies in the Central African Copperbelt, and analyses the way workers perceive this relationship. To do so, it focuses on union elections, as it is during this period of heightened competition that trade unionists’ track records are discussed, assessed and finally valued or rejected. Our argument is that, although differences in union organisation on both sides of the border trigger a distinct electoral dynamism, they manifest similar power games, the same form of micropolitics of work. While on both sides trade unionists utilise repurposed discourses of union strength in their interactions with members, they are pragmatic in their dealings with management and justify this behaviour by claiming that this is the best way to deal with the Western and Asian managers that have been appointed since the mining boom in the 2000s. In their view, ‘modern’ unionism is primarily based on dialogue and conciliation, rather than on confrontation.