Trade union policy and new technology: the Civil and Public Services Association

  • Ian S. Jones

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The introduction of a micro-electronic based technology to the workplace has had a far reaching and widespread effect on the numbers and content of jobs. The importance of the implications of new technology were recognised by the trade unions, leading to a plethora of advice and literature in the late 70s and early 80s, notably the TUC 'Technology and Employment ' report. However, studies into the union response have consistently found an overall lack of influence by unions in the introduction of technology. Whilst the advent of new technology has coincided with an industrial relations climate of unprecedented hostility to union activity in the post-war period, there are structural weaknesses in unions in coming to terms with the process of technological change. In
particular was the identification of a lack of suitable technological expertise. Addressing itself to this perceived weakness of the union response, this thesis is the outcome of a collaborative project between a national union and an academic institution. The thesis is based on detailed case studies concerning technology bargaining in the Civil Service and the response of the Civil and Public Services Associations (CPSA), the union that represents lower grade white collar civil servants. It is demonstrated that the application of expertise to union
negotiators is insufficient on its own to extend union influence and that for unions to effectively come to terms with technology and influence its development requires a re-assessment across all spheres of union activity. It is suggested that this has repercussions for not only the internal organisation and quality of union policy formation and the extent, form and nature of collective bargaining with employer representatives, but also in the relationship with consumer and interest groups outside the traditional collective bargaining forum. Three policy
options are developed in the thesis with the 'adversarial' and 'co~operative' options representing the more traditional reactive and passive forms of involvement. These are contrasted with an 'independent participative' form of involvement which was a 'pro-active' policy option and utilised the expertise of the Author in the CPSA's response to technological change.
Date of AwardJan 1988
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorH. Fred Steward (Supervisor)


  • technology bargaining
  • industrial relations and technology
  • union policy and technology
  • technology, social aspects

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