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Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation Results of the 2009 survey of ULRs and managers Richard Saundry, Alison Hollinrake and Valerie Antcliff, Institute for Research into Organisations, Work and Employment, University of Central Lancashire Research paper 12 February 2011


The biennial survey of union learning representatives is commissioned by unionlearn to inform the organisation’s strategic support for ULRs. As such it is not a statement of TUC policy. Unionlearn is the TUC organisation that supports union-led strategies for learning and skills opportunities. It helps unions open up learning and skills opportunities for their members and develops and delivers trade union education for their representatives and professional officers. About the authors Richard Saundry is Reader in International Employment Relations; Alison Hollinrake is Senior Lecturer in Employee Development; and Valerie Antcliff is Research Associate, Institute for Research into Organisations, Work and Employment, University of Central Lancashire.

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

1


Contents

2

List of tables

3

Foreword

5

Abstract

6

Executive summary

7

Introduction

8

Methodology

11

Results

13

The nature and extent of ULR activity The impact of ULR activity Contextual influences on activity and impact ULR characteristics – shaping activity and impact? Activity, impact and support for union learning Learning institutions, activity and impact Explaining ULR activity and impact

13 15 17 22 28 35 41

Conclusion

46

References

49

Appendix

51


List of tables

Table 1 Table 2 Table 3 Table 4 Table 5 Table 6 Table 7 Table 8 Table 9 Table 10 Table 11 Table 12 Table 13 Table 14 Table 15 Table 16 Table 17 Table 18 Table 19 Table 20 Table 21 Table 22 Table 23 Table 24 Table 25 Table 26 Table 27 Table 28 Table 29 Table 30

Nature and extent of ULR activity Change in ULR activity over the past 12 months Activity index Impact of ULR activity Impact of ULR activity on learning and training outcomes Impact index Arrangement of courses and context Recruitment and context Contextual factors and index of activity Context and numbers accessing training Context and union-management relations Context and interest in union membership Context and index of impact Arrangement of courses and ULR characteristics Recruitment and ULR characteristics ULR characteristics and index of activity ULR characteristics and numbers accessing training Union-management relationships and ULR characteristics Interest in union membership and ULR characteristics ULR characteristics and index of impact Support for ULR activity and arrangement of courses Support for ULR activity and recruitment of new members Support for ULRs and index of activity ULR support and numbers accessing training ULR support and union-management relationships ULR support and interest in union membership ULR support and index of impact Managers’ perceptions of ULR impact Learning institutions and arrangement of courses Learning institutions and recruitment of members Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

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Table 31 Learning institutions and index of activity Table 32 Learning institutions and numbers accessing training Table 33 Learning institutions and union-management relationships Table 34 Learning institutions and interest in union membership Table 35 Learning institutions and index of impact Table 36 Hierarchical regression model, steps 1–3 Table 37 Hierarchical regression model, step 4 (separate learning institutions variables) Table 38 Hierarchical regression model, step 4 (combined learning institutions variable)

4

Unions and Skills Utilisation


Foreword

The lynchpin of union learning is the army of union learning representatives (ULRs). They open the door to learning for many workers who have not had the confidence or opportunity to take it up since leaving full-time education. As well as being trusted by union members, ULRs are able to work in partnership with employers to increase both the quantity and quality of learning opportunities at the workplace. Over 26,000 have been recruited, trained and accredited since 1999. Unionlearn commissions biennial surveys of ULRs and the last two have included a survey of managers. This is the fifth national survey and a summary of the findings was published in Learning Works last year. This research report sets out the findings in greater detail and includes the full statistical analysis. The findings show that ULR impact continues to increase along with their commitment. This is evidenced by the fact that, on average, every ULR gives as much of their own time to the role as they are given by their employers, and indicative of the dedication shown by so many. This is the first survey of ULRs and their managers held during a period of economic recession. In the past, when employers have had to find budgets to

cut, training has been the first to go. ULRs have had the added challenge of combating that tendency, seeking opportunities to enhance the skills base of their colleagues in order to improve their chances in a shrinking labour market. It is encouraging to see that most managers still value the contribution of their ULRs, and that only two-fifths report cuts to training budgets. There are however still ULRs who feel undervalued and unsupported and there are even some managers of ULRs who fail to recognise their value. Feeling valued and supported is an important factor contributing to the achievements of the most productive ULRs, alongside the existence of learning agreements and learning partnerships. While providing overwhelming evidence of the massive contribution ULRs are making, this report also identifies areas where increased effort is needed to support them, and its findings will underpin unionlearn’s ongoing strategy in supporting learners.

Tom Wilson Director, unionlearn

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

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Abstract

This report provides a detailed analysis of unionlearn’s 2009 survey of union learning representatives (ULRs) and their managers. The report suggests that not only is ULR activity increasing but that a clear majority of both representatives and their managers believe that it enhances workplace learning, closes skills gaps and improves unionmanagement relations. However, the main aim of the report is to identify and explore the key determinants of ULR activity and impact. The findings suggest that in addition to the support of their own unions, ULRs have the greatest effect within organisations where management have a clear commitment to union learning. While the support of senior managers for ULR activity and the presence of workplace learning institutions were found to be influential, the single most important factor in shaping ULR activity and impact was the existence of negotiations between ULRs and employers. Therefore, the report argues that if ULRs are to deliver positive outcomes both for their members and their organisations, employer engagement must be reflected within positive workplace relations and a collective bargaining framework that explicitly recognises the centrality of learning and training.

6


Executive summary

❚❚ There was evidence of an increase in ULR activity

compared to the 2007 survey. Over three-quarters (76.7%) of active ULRs arranged or helped to arrange courses in the previous twelve months compared with 59% in 2007. However, nearly one quarter of respondents were inactive. ❚❚ Both management respondents and ULRs claimed

that ULR activity had positive outcomes. A clear majority of managers surveyed (54%) agreed that ULR activity had helped to close skills gaps. Almost 60% of active ULRs reported improved management-union relationships. ❚❚ Whether ULRs were located in the public or private

❚❚ Adequate support from senior management,

learning agreements and learning partnerships were all positively related to ULR impact. However, the effect of workplace learning institutions on ULR activity and impact was greater where learning agreements, partnerships and the Skills Pledge operated in combination. ❚❚ The most powerful predictor of ULR activity and

impact was the occurrence of negotiations between ULRs and the employer over learning and training. This suggests that positive workplace relations and a supportive collective bargaining framework are fundamental to effective ULR activity.

sector had little effect on activity and impact. However, high levels of ULR activity were more likely to be found in larger organisations. Union density and perceptions of union support were positively and significantly associated with both activity and impact. ❚❚ There was no evidence that ULRs who had not

previously had a union role (new activists) were less likely to be active or less able to generate positive outcomes. Similarly, ULRs with multiple roles did not appear to be hampered by ‘role overload’. ULRs with longer service and with multiple roles were more likely to report that their activity increased interest in union membership and improved union– management relations. Age of ULRs was negatively and significantly associated with ULR activity, while female ULRs were more likely to report higher levels of impact.

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

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Introduction

The role played by trade union learning representatives (ULRs) and the impact of union learning on skills and training has become an increasing focus of academic and policy debate. Union learning has been shown to: enhance the development of skills and training; underpin workplace partnership; and assist the revitalisation of trade union organisation.1 This paper provides a detailed analysis of findings from the 2009 national survey of ULRs and their managers to identify the main determinants of the activity of ULRs and their impact on the workplaces they cover. In doing so, it will discuss the key challenges ULRs face in maintaining and developing their role in the future. The ULR role developed in response to the establishment (in 1998) of the Union Learning Fund (ULF), which was founded on the centrality of skill development and lifelong learning to labour flexibility and economic growth.2 The first ULRs emerged in 2000 and by the end of 2009/10, over 25,000 ULRs had been trained,3 well ahead of the unionlearn target of 22,000.4 The potential impact of ULRs falls broadly into three categories. Firstly, the existing research evidence points to the success of the ULR initiative in helping employees to develop their skills and gain new qualifications.5 The recent evaluation of the ULF6 found that it had increased equality of access to learning, increased the number of workers getting qualifications and closed skills gaps. Similarly, ULRs have been found to have had a positive impact on employee awareness of learning opportunities and on the provision of workplace training.7

Secondly, it is argued that ULR activity provides the basis for improved employer-employee relationships that in turn may generate improved training provision and broader employment relations benefits. The recent analysis by Stuart and others of the ULF (2010) points to the impact of union learning in enhancing organisational performance and developing high-trust union-management relations. It has been argued that ULRs are often the impetus for the implementation of effective learning partnerships that underpin workplace learning activity.8 Rainbird (2005) suggests that such partnerships can yield ‘extended resolutions’ whereby the acquisition of non-firm specific skills may also provide benefits to the employer in terms of increased motivation, commitment and flexibility. Similarly, Thompson and others (2007) found casestudy evidence of employers linking union learning to improved staff retention and a cultural shift towards learning and development. Thirdly, it is claimed that ULR activity can re-energise union organisation and cement links between trade unions and workers.9 ULRs represent an injection of new activists into the workplace. Wallis et al. (2005) found that a growing number of ULRs (27%) had no previous trade union role10 while Wood and Moore (2004) and Thompson and others (2007) have both argued that ULRs tend to come from groups normally under-represented within trade union structures. In addition, the presence of ULRs increases the dayto-day contact between members and potential members and the union. Indeed, it is

Cassell and Lee, 2009; Rainbird, 2003; Stuart et al., 2010; Stuart and Cooney, 2004; Thompson et al., 2007 DfEE,1998:7. 3 Unionlearn with the TUC, 2010. 4 Unionlearn with the TUC, 2007. 5 DIUS, 2007:59. 6 Stuart et al., 2010. 7 Bacon and Hoque, 2009; Saundry et al., 2010. 8 Munro and Rainbird, 2004; Wallis and Stuart, 2007. 9 Thompson et al., 2007; Moore and Wood, 2007. 10 See also York Consulting, 2003. 1

2

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argued that ULR activity changes the perception of the union, increasing its relevance to the personal and professional lives of workers.11Thompson and others (2007) also claim that the promise of employability acts as a magnet for new trade union members and strengthens ties between existing members. While there is clear evidence that most ULRs are able to embed and increase their activity, a significant minority of ULRs have found it difficult to sustain and develop their role.12 Indeed research has pointed to a number of barriers that can inhibit ULR activity and suppress the impact of ULRs on the development of skills and training. Firstly, while ULRs may flourish in settings with strong union organisation, this is much harder where such support mechanisms are absent and unions are peripheral to organisational life. A number of commentators have questioned the potential for union learning to impact within the majority of UK workplaces in which trade unions have little profile.13 Consequently ULR activity will, it is argued, be concentrated in large, public sector and unionised workplaces in which unions are already strong. Lloyd and Payne argue that the success of ULRs is predicated on a strong base of union workplace organisation. Given that ULRs are present in a minority of workplaces in which trade unions are present, they suggest that ‘the ability of the learning agenda to revitalise trade unions in weakly organised workplaces may, therefore, be limited’ (3). Hoque and Bacon go so far as to question whether trade unions can have any substantive impact on training

outcomes given that in more than one-third of union recognised workplaces unions have no involvement over training and only collectively bargain in 9% of workplaces. However, Stuart and Robinson (2007) point out that collective bargaining over training has increased by 200% between 1998 and 2004. Moreover they argue that employees in union recognised workplaces are more likely to receive training, an effect strengthened by ULR presence. Secondly, the characteristics of ULRs and ULR organisation may be important in shaping both activity and impact.14 In particular, while the significant increase in new activists has been hailed as one of the major achievements of the ULR initiative, such inexperienced trade unionists may struggle to make an impression. In addition, many ULRs combine their learning role with other union posts leading to concerns that overloaded representatives may find it difficult to sustain ULR activity.15 This highlights the importance of union support for ULRs. Indeed, previous research has found some ambiguity in the roles of ULRs and the union structures within which they operate.16 Finally, ULR activity appears to be dependent on the degree of employer engagement. Stuart (2008) has argued that union learning is undermined by a ‘missing employer obligation’. While rhetoric places trade unions and ULRs at the centre of the government’s skills strategy,17 and despite the introduction to paid time off for ULRs, there has been little sign of the government breaking with a marketbased approach to training that fails to acknowledge

Wood and Moore, 2004. Hollinrake et al., 2008; Bacon and Hoque, 2008; 2009; Saundry et al., 2010. 13 Lloyd and Payne, 2006; Hoque and Bacon, 2006; McIlroy, 2008. 14 See Bacon and Hoqque, 2010b. 15 Thomson et al., 2007. 16 Wallis et al., 2005; see also Rainbird, 2005, Bacon and Hoque 2010b. 17 DfES 2003. 11

12

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

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structural and institutional limitations of the UK economy.18 The last Labour administration shied away from moves to establish a statutory entitlement to collectively bargain over training and hopes for the introduction of a compulsory training levy have not been realised. Moreover the Leitch Report (2006) and the government’s subsequent proposals, ‘World Class Skills: Implementing the Leitch Review’ (2007), re-asserted the central role of employer interests in driving training provision (Clough, 2007). Authors have highlighted the importance of collective bargaining over training19 and more specifically learning agreements in underpinning workplace learning by cementing entitlements to time-off and providing a solid base for ULR activity.20 However, employer acceptance of learning agreements may be driven by mechanistic/productivist considerations in securing ULR co-operation with the ultimate aim of using ULRs to develop firm specific training. Wallis and Stuart (2007) have argued that the key issue is not the learning agreement as such but the nature and quality of the partnership underpinning the formal agreement. In other words, to argue that learning agreements are a necessary and a sufficient condition for effective ULR activity and successful workplace learning may be much too simplistic.21 The pattern of skill formation and (in our context) ULR activity and workplace learning is shaped by workplace relations.22 Therefore in order to examine the significance of ULR activity we need to move away from a perspective that revolves solely around structures and institutions.

Stuart, 1996; 2008; Lloyd and Payne, 2006; McIlroy, 2008. Heyes and Stuart, 1998; Bacon and Hoque, 2010b. 20 Stuart et al., 2010; Munro and Rainbird, 2004b. 21 See Bacon and Hoque, 2010b. 22 Stuart, 1996; Hollinrake et al., 2008. 18 19

10

Crucially, the recent economic recession could be argued to have amplified these challenges. With trade unions desperate to protect employment, ULR activity may start to fall down the agenda. Likewise employers’ priorities may well be realigned towards short-term survival and away from longerterm investment in learning and development. Recessionary pressures may also transmit to learning partnerships forged during periods of growth, while the prospect of job insecurity may have a negative impact on employee demand for learning. This report draws on the 2009 national survey of ULRs and their managers to identify the key determinants of the activity of ULRs and their impact on the workplaces they cover. The structure of the report is as follows: firstly, we outline the methodology used in the survey and the analysis contained below. Secondly, we provide an overview of the survey findings with regard to the nature and extent of ULR activity and impact. Thirdly, we examine key indicators of activity and impact in terms of four issues – workplace context; ULR characteristics; workplace support; and workplace learning institutions. Fourthly, we use these factors to develop two hierarchical regression models to predict ULR activity and impact respectively. Finally, these results are discussed and conclusions drawn.


Methodology

The sampling frame for the initial survey of ULRs was the unionlearn with the TUC’s database of ULRs. This consisted of 10,713 individual ULRs. For the first time, separate questionnaires were developed in respect of active and inactive ULRs. This was done for two reasons. Firstly, it was possible that a significant number of questionnaires would be completed by inactive ULRs, thus skewing the overall results and giving an unrealistic picture of ULR activity. Secondly, it was felt important to ask inactive ULRs specific questions to shed light on the reasons for ceasing their work. In previous surveys, those respondents who had indicated that they were not active (116 respondents in 2005 and 196 in 2007) were excluded from the subsequent analysis. The ‘active’ questionnaire was piloted in two regions: the South West and the North West of England. These were chosen to reflect different demographic and industrial characteristics. A total of 64 questionnaires were distributed and respondents were asked to provide feedback on the design and content of the questionnaire. As a result of the pilot, only minor modifications were made to the questionnaire to ensure clarity and consistency. However, as a consequence of feedback from the pilot study, it was decided to develop an online version of both questionnaires. The ‘active’ questionnaire contained a number of core questions from previous surveys to enable comparison over time. In addition several batteries of questions were developed to capture ULRs’ attitudes towards, and experience of, employer support, member attitudes to learning and the impact of the recession. The ‘inactive’ questionnaire was much shorter in order to maximize the response rate. It focused on demographic data while probing for information regarding reasons for inactivity. Unionlearn distributed both questionnaires to the entire sampling frame, with a covering letter and a pre-paid return envelope, by post in October 2009. Respondents were also given the option of responding to the online questionnaire if they preferred. Details of

the online survey were also circulated to affiliate trade unions. Subsequent reminders were sent by post and (where possible) electronically. ULRs were asked to provide contact details for their managers who had responsibility for union learning issues. Details of 264 managers were received. A separate questionnaire was designed in respect of managers and this was sent out electronically (where e-mail addresses had been provided) and also by post. In total, 1,292 ULRs responded to the survey. Of these 968 responses were received from active ULRs, 529 via the postal questionnaire and 439 from online questionnaire. 324 responses were received from inactive ULRs. This represents an overall response rate of 12.1%. In addition 112 managers responded to the survey, a response rate of 42.4%. The data received to date has been analysed using SPSS. Initial analysis included the generation of descriptive statistics to assess the current demographic profile, activities and impact of ULRs. Core questions common to previous waves of the survey were used to identify changes and trends in key variables over time The second stage of data analysis involved combining responses from batteries of questions to develop indices to measure the extent of ULR activity and the impact of ULR activity. The items used to construct each index are reported in Appendix 1. It is important to note that each index was designed to incorporate measures directly related to learning and training and also broader indicators of activity and impact relating to union organisation and management-union relations. For each index only those ULRS who responded to all of the items are included in analyses based on that index. While it is recognised that excluding cases with missing data may introduce an element of bias, including such cases by assigning scores based, for example on the mean or the middle category, can influence the results. The data yielded a reasonably large sample of cases without missing data, for the activity index n= 868 (90% of the full sample), and for

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

11


the impact index n=653 (68% of the full sample). It was decided, therefore, to exclude cases with missing data from the analysis. For the purposes of this report these indices have been categorised into indicators of low, medium and high activity and impact respectively. Crosstabulation tables were then used to explore the association between a range of variables, the indices of ULR activity and impact outlined above and also selected individual indicators of activity and impact. In the final stage of the analysis multiple regression was used to investigate the predictive power of each set of variables. Where predictor variables were categorical, sets of dummy variables were created. A separate set of hierarchical regression models was developed for each of our indices. Variables were entered in four blocks measuring characteristics of workplace context; individual ULR characteristics; support received by ULRs in the workplace; and workplace learning institutions and negotiation.

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Results

The nature and extent of ULR activity

In addition, almost half of all (active) respondents had helped colleagues to obtain funding for learning and almost 80% had met and networked with other ULRs. Interestingly nearly three-quarters (74.3%) claimed to have recruited or helped to recruit new members into the union, emphasising the organising potential of ULRs. Overall, where the same question had been asked in the previous survey in 2007, activity in 2009 was at a higher level in each case.

In terms of the content and extent of ULR activity the 2009 survey painted a positive picture. In general there is evidence that a greater proportion of ULRs are actively making a difference to workers’ learning opportunities compared with the last survey in 2007. As table 1 shows, the overwhelming majority of active ULRs (94.2%) had provided information and advice to colleagues on learning opportunities. This compares with 85% in 2007. More than three-quarters of respondents had arranged or helped to arrange courses (compared with 59% in 2007) and over half (53.2%) had conducted a learning needs assessment compared with just 47% in 2007.

Active ULRs were also asked whether their activity had increased or decreased over the last 12 months. More than four in ten (42.2%) of active ULRs reported an increase and an additional 30.6% reported that it had stayed the same (see table 2).

Table 1 – Nature and extent of ULR activity During the last 12 months have you... 2009

2007

Freq

Valid Percent

Valid Percent

n

%

%

Provided information and advice to colleagues on learning opportunities?

879

94.2

85

Helped colleagues to get funding for learning?

435

48.5

n.a.

Arranged (or helped to arrange) courses for colleagues?

697

76.7

59

Recruited (or helped to recruit) new members into the union?

676

74.3

n.a.

Conducted a learning needs assessment?

479

53.2

47

Met and/or networked with ULRs from other workplaces?

727

79.3

n.a.

Table 2 – Change in ULR activity over the past 12 months Frequency

Valid Percent

n

%

Decreased a lot

142

15.3

Decreased a little

110

11.9

Same

284

30.6

Increased a little

181

19.5

Increased a lot

211

22.7

Total

928

100.0

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

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At the other end of the spectrum, more than a quarter of active ULRs reported decreased activity with 15.3% stating that their activity had decreased ‘a lot’. Moreover, nearly one quarter (24.3%) of those ULRs responding to the survey were inactive. Combined with the rapid increase in the number of trained ULRs,23 this suggests a fairly high rate of churn amongst ULRs. However, there was generally little difference between the demographic characteristics of the active and inactive samples.24

In order to examine ULR activity in more detail an index activity was created by combining a number of individual variables that measured activity (see appendix 1). The activity score ranged from 1 to 11. The sample was then equally divided into three categories, corresponding to high (9–11), medium (7–8) and low activity (1–6). The mean and median scored for the whole sample are outlined in table 3.

Table 3 – Activity index Frequency

Mean

Median

Std Deviation

7.4896

8.0000

2.2860

n

23 24

14

Valid

868

Missing

100

Unionlearn, 2010. See Saundry et al., 2010, for a more detailed review.


The impact of ULR activity While many ULRs may be ‘active’, a key consideration is whether this is translated into improvements in learning and training. Table 4 outlines ULR perceptions as to the impact of ULR activity. Almost all believed that they increased awareness of learning and the vast majority claimed that their activity had increased both the number of colleagues being trained (78.3%) and the amount of training received by individuals (74.8%). In particular, almost eight out of every ten respondents reported that their activity had helped workers with little prior experience of

learning. While there was more scepticism about their broader impact on workplace relationships, the overall response was generally positive with two-thirds of active ULRs reporting that their activity improved management/union dialogue and almost 60% that it improved management/union relationships in general. Even those ULRs who had ceased to be active believed that they had a positive impact. Less than 10% of inactive ULRs responding to the survey felt that they had not helped their members improve their skills.

Table 4 – Impact of ULR activity Do you feel that your ULR activity has had any of the following effects? Freq.

Yes

To a certain extent

No

Unsure

n

%

%

%

%

Raised awareness of learning amongst colleagues

927

54.4

39.3

3.5

2.9

Increased interest in union membership

926

24.1

43.8

21.4

10.7

Improved relationships between the union and managers

921

22.1

37.0

27.4

13.5

Increased the number of colleagues accessing training

924

45.3

33.0

13.5

8.1

Increased the amount of training for individual colleagues

921

40.6

34.2

17.2

8.0

Helped colleagues who had no/little experience of learning

919

43.9

35.1

13.8

7.2

Improved management/union dialogue on learning

921

27.4

39.3

21.3

12.1

Not all rows add to 100% due to rounding

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

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Table 5 breaks down the impact of ULR activity into different types of learning and training. In general this data suggests that ULRs have continued to have the positive impact on the level of training found in the 2007 survey.25 The largest areas of growth appear to have been in relation to training linked to vocational/ academic qualifications and basic literacy and numeracy skills. It is sometimes argued that there may be pressure from employers on ULRs to support learning activities that directly support production imperatives. Moreover it could be expected that such pressure

may intensify in the face of challenging economic conditions. However, there was less evidence of an increase in relation to job-related training and particularly so in relation to apprenticeships, with just 18.2% reporting an increase and 6% a decrease. As with activity, an index combining the variables outlined above was constructed to provide a single measure of impact. The basis of the index is detailed in appendix one. It rated levels of impact from a minimum of 6 to 51. The sample was then equally divided into three categories, corresponding to high (41–51), medium (31–40) and low impact (1–30). The mean and median scored are outlined in table 6.

Table 5 – Impact of ULR activity on learning and training outcomes As a result of your ULR activity in the site(s) that you cover, how has the number of your members involved in the following activities changed, if at all? Increased Increased Stayed Decreased Decreased Freq a lot a little the same a little a lot n % % % % % Training leading to nationally recognised vocational or academic qualifications

855

19.3

39.4

38.9

1.1

1.3

Apprenticeships

716

4.2

14.0

75.8

3.1

2.9

Job-related training not leading to formal qualifications Training in basic literacy and numeracy skills

799

13.1

32.8

51.1

1.5

1.5

828

25.8

30.8

40.1

2.2

1.1

Continuing Professional Development

839

14.1

37.7

43.5

3.1

1.7

Personal interest/leisure courses

844

15.6

37.3

41.2

3.1

2.7

Not all rows add to 100% due to rounding

Table 6 – Impact index Frequency

Mean

Median

Std Deviation

34.9418

35.0000

7.68252

n

25

16

Valid

653

Missing

315

Bacon and Hoque, 2008.


Contextual influences on activity and impact

1,000 workers). Just 12.9% worked in small and medium-sized organisations (SMOs) employing up to 250 workers. However this is more than twice the proportion in 2005, which suggests that ULR activity is beginning to extend into non-standard settings.

As outlined above, one of the main accusations levelled against union learning is that it is largely confined to contexts and sectors in which trade union organisation is already well established. If correct, this has two consequences – firstly it restricts the impact of ULR activity to a specific type of workplace (i.e. large, public sector, unionised). It also limits the potential of ULRs in extending union presence and organisation. At best it will help to consolidate trade unions where they are already strong.

Perhaps not surprisingly, 97.3% of ULRs were found in organisations in which their trade union was recognised for collective bargaining purposes. Just 25 (2.7%) active ULRs worked without the support of union recognition. It would also seem that active ULRs tended to be found in organisations with relatively high levels of union density. Almost 63% of active ULRs operated within organisations that enjoyed union density of 60% or more.

Without doubt, active ULRs are still mainly found within public sector organisations. However there was a marginal decline from the 2007 survey (71%) to 69.5% in 2009. The proportion of inactive ULRs in the public sector was 63.4% (36.6% in the private sector). Active ULRs were also concentrated within larger organisations, with over two-thirds operating within very large organisations (those with over

But how do these contextual variables affect ULR activity? In table 7 (below), we examine the relationship between three key contextual variables and a measure of activity – whether or not the ULR has arranged or helped to arranged courses in the last 12 months or since becoming a ULR.

Table 7 – Arrangement of courses and context Have you arranged or helped to arrange courses for your members in the last 12 months? Yes

No

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

Public sector

481

77.2

142

22.8

623

100.0

Private sector

150

73.9

53

26.1

203

100.0

Small and medium-sized organisations*

79

69.3

35

30.7

114

100.0

Large organisations*

602

77.6

174

22.4

776

100.0

Union density 40%+***

64

66.0

33

34.0

97

100.0

Union density <40%***

566

79.6

145

30.4

711

100.0

*, **, *** – indicates significance at 10%, 5% and 1% respectively

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

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The findings here appear to suggest that there is relatively little difference between ULRs in the public and private sector, however those in large organisations were more likely to have arranged courses. Crucially there was a statistically significant association (at the 1% level) between union density and the organisation of courses. Where union density was 40% or more, 79.6% of ULRs had arranged courses, compared with 66% where density was below 40%. Nonetheless it is important to note that substantial majorities of ULRs within small and medium-sized organisations and those operating where union organisation was less well developed

were still active. Very similar relationships were found in respect of whether ULRs had been active in recruiting new members (see table 8, below). Again there appeared to be little difference between public and private sector ULRs. However there were statistically significant associations between whether ULRs had recruited new members and both organisation size and union density. Different measures of activity are brought together in table 9 in which we examine contextual variables in terms of whether ULRs reported low, medium or high levels of activity.

Table 8 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Recruitment and context Have you recruited new members in the last 12 months? Yes

No

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

Public sector

471

75.5

153

24.5

624

100.0

Private sector Small and medium-sized organisations** Large organisations**

143

71.1

58

28.9

201

100.0

75

65.2

40

34.8

115

100.0

589

76.0

186

24.0

775

100.0

Union density 40%+*

548

77.2

162

22.8

710

100.0

Union density <40%*

67

69.1

30

30.9

97

100.0

Table 9 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Contextual factors and index of activity Activity

18

Low

Medium

High

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

Public sector

195

32.6

179

29.9

224

37.5

598

100.0

Private sector Small and medium-sized organisations*** Large organisations***

62

32.0

65

33.5

67

34.5

194

100.0

53

48.6

35

32.1

21

19.3

109

100.0

229

30.9

232

31.4

279

37.7

740

100.0

Union density <40%

35

36.5

28

29.2

33

34.4

96

100.1

Union density >40%

210

31.0

213

31.5

254

37.5

677

100.0


In broad terms, these findings would tend to confirm previous suggestions that the level of activity is relatively unaffected by whether it takes place within the public or private sector. Furthermore, the relationship between union density and this broader measure of activity was not statistically significant. In workplaces where union density was 40% or over 37.5% of active ULRs reported ‘high’ activity compared to 34.4% in workplaces where less than 40% of workers were union members. However, high activity was found more often within larger organisations – well over a third of active ULRs within large organisations reported ‘high’ activity compared with less than one-fifth of those in SMOs.

accessing training (table 10), the pattern is generally similar to that of activity. There was again little difference between public and private sectors, while a slightly greater proportion of ULRs in sites with density of 40% and above claimed to have increased the numbers accessing training. However, neither of these relationships was statistically significant. In contrast, organisation size was significant at the 1% level. Almost half of active ULRs in large organisations (47.4%) felt that their activity had increased the numbers accessing training compared with under a third (31.9%) in SMOs. Table 11 looks at a broader measure of impact and explores the relationship between contextual factors and the views of ULRs as to whether their activity improved union-management relations. However, there was little clear pattern and none of these factors were statistically significant.

An important question is whether contextual factors also determine whether ULR activity is converted into clear outcomes. In terms of whether ULR activity has led to an increase in the numbers of workers Table 10 – Context and numbers accessing training

Do you feel that your ULR activity has increased the numbers of colleagues accessing training? Yes

To a certain extent

No

Unsure

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

Public sector

295

46.6

210

33.2

79

12.5

49

7.7

633

100.0

Private sector

88

42.7

73

35.4

31

15.0

14

6.8

206

99.9

Small and mediumsized organisations ***

38

31.9

43

36.1

23

19.3

15

12.6

119

99.9

Large organisations ***

372

47.4

254

32.4

100

12.8

58

7.4

784

100.0

Union density <40%

41

41.4

31

31.3

15

15.2

12

12.1

98

100.0

Union density >40%

341

47.1

237

32.7

92

12.7

54

7.5

722

100.0

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

19


The relative lack of impact here may suggest that a wide range of factors may shape employment relationships, of which ULR activity is one relatively small element. In relation to whether ULR activity had increased interest in union membership (see table 12), sector and size had little significant effect. Even in small organisations, 72.7% of active respondents

claimed that interest had increased, at least to a certain extent. The only significant relationship was between union density and increased interest in membership. While 63.6% of active ULRs in lower density workplaces reported increased interest, this increased to 73% in sites where 40% or more of employees were union members.

Table 11 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Context and union-management relations Do you feel that your ULR activity has improved relationships between the union and managers? Yes, to a Yes No Unsure certain extent n % n % n % n %

Total n

%

Public sector

147

23.3

243

38.5

159

25.2

82

13.0

631

100.0

Private sector

38

18.4

75

36.4

63

30.6

30

14.6

206

100.0

Small- and medium-sized organisations

24

20.5

40

34.2

31

26.5

22

18.8

117

100.0

Large organisations

175

22.3

294

37.5

217

27.7

97

12.4

783

99.9

Union density <40%

19

19.2

42

42.4

22

22.2

16

16.2

99

100.0

Union density >40%

172

23.8

271

37.5

195

27.0

84

11.6

722

99.9

Table 12 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Context and interest in union membership Do you feel that your ULR activity has increased interest in union membership? Yes, to a certain extent

Yes

20

No

Unsure

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

Public sector

160

25.3

280

44.2

129

20.4

64

10.1

634

100.0

Private sector

44

21.3

91

44.0

49

23.7

23

11.1

207

100.1

Small and medium-sized organisations

31

26.3

43

36.4

30

25.4

14

11.9

118

100.0

Large organisations

186

23.6

359

45.6

160

20.3

82

10.4

787

100.0

Union density<40%**

12

12.1

51

51.5

25

25.3

11

11.1

99

100.0

Union density>40%**

192

26.4

324

44.6

138

19.0

72

9.9

726

99.9


When different measures are brought together in our index of impact, sectoral factors appear to be relatively insignificant (see table 13 below). For example, 25% of public sector ULRs had ‘high’ impact, compared with 24.8% of their colleagues in the private sector. While there did appear to be generally higher impact in workplaces with union density of 40% or above, this was not statistically significant. In fact the only significant association was between organisation size and impact, with ULRs in larger organisations generally reporting higher impact.

union learning being an essentially public sector phenomenon may need to be rethought. However there is a little more evidence that activity levels are linked to organisational size and union density. Therefore larger organisations, perhaps with greater resources, and those where unions have a substantial presence do seem to provide a more conducive setting for ULR activity to become established. The findings above, suggest however that this connection is not as clear in respect of the impact of that activity. Furthermore, it is important to note that the data provides clear evidence that high proportions of ULRs working in smaller organisations with weak union presence remain active and also report a range of positive impacts.

Overall there would seem to be little relationship between sectoral variables and either activity or impact. This may suggest that preconceptions about Table 13 – Context and index of impact Impact

Low

Medium

High

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

Public sector

117

26.1

219

48.9

112

25.0

448

100.0

Private sector

47

30.7

68

44.4

38

24.8

153

99.9

Manufacturing

21

27.3

34

44.2

22

28.6

77

100.1

Private services

52

28.0

81

43.5

53

28.5

186

100.0

Public admin, health and education

102

27.1

182

48.4

92

24.5

376

100.0

Small and medium-sized organisations **

35

40.7

36

41.9

15

17.4

86

100.0

Large organisations.**

142

25.7

263

47.6

148

26.8

553

100.1

Union density <40%

25

34.7

32

44.4

15

20.8

72

99.9

Union density >40%

134

25.9

241

46.5

143

27.6

518

100.0

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

21


ULR characteristics – shaping activity and impact? In addition to contextual factors, it might be argued that ULR characteristics shape the extent and nature of activity and impact. In general the ULR population is more diverse than comparable groups of trade union representatives. In particular, 43% of active ULRs are female, compared to 27% of trade union health and safety representatives. Therefore an interesting question is whether gender plays any role in shaping activity and/or impact? Age may also be a factor – the majority of active ULRs that responded to the survey were aged between 46 and 60 (61.1%). Almost 30% (29.7) were aged between 30 and 45, with just 3.4% aged under 30 and 5.8% aged over 60. It could be suggested that younger ULRs may be more dynamic or – to the contrary – may lack the necessary experience to have a significant impact. Particular interest has been focused on the ‘new activists’: ULRs who have not previously held a formal role within the union. There has been a significant and sustained increase in the proportion of new activists reaching 37.2% in 2009. This represents a slight increase in the proportion of new activists on the last survey in 2007 (36%). It has been argued that this group represents an important injection of new blood into workplace union organisation. However, at the same time it might be suggested that inexperience could hamper their ability to facilitate learning and build relationships with management that may underpin the improved delivery of training. Furthermore, those ULRs who are new to the job may find it difficult to establish and embed themselves within their organisations. In fact, only a small percentage of active ULRs that we surveyed had been in their role for less than 12 months (‘new’ ULRs). The bulk of respondents had been in post for between 12 months and five years. Only 20.1% of respondents had six or more years of experience. The average length of time that ULRs had been active was 3.6 years and the median was 3 years.

22

Finally, 61.1% of active ULRs responding to the 2009 survey held an additional role to their union learning brief. It could be argued that combining multiple roles minimizes the time that one individual can devote to union learning activities. On the other hand, ULRs with additional roles may be able to exploit connections and relations that they have developed while undertaking other union activities. For example, union representatives with responsibilities for conducting negotiations into pay and conditions may be able to build on this to incorporate learning and training issues. Table 14 explores the relationship between these characteristics and ULR activity in terms of the arrangement of courses. Interestingly, the only factor that has a significant effect is the length of service as a ULR. A higher proportion of respondents who had been a ULR for three years or more had arranged or helped to arrange a course in the last twelve months compared with their less experienced colleagues. However, there was little difference in relation to new activists, age, gender or whether the ULR had more than one role. This might suggest that it is experience of being a ULR that is the decisive factor in determining activity. In contrast, ULR characteristics seem to be very influential in respect of the recruitment of new union members (see table 15 below). While gender was not a significant factor, existing activists and those ULRs with a multiple union role were much more likely to have recruited members in the last 12 months. The data here was quite stark. Just under 40% of new activists and 41% of ULRs whose sole function was union learning had not recruited anyone into the union, whereas this was true of only 17.9% of existing activists and 16.5% of ULRs who also had another role within the union. Age and ULR service were also both statistically significant at the 5% and 1% levels respectively.


Table 14 – Arrangement of courses and ULR characteristics Have you arranged or helped to arrange courses for your members in the last 12 months? Yes

No

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

Female

285

76.6

87

23.4

372

100.0

Male

337

77.2

114

22.8

501

100.0

New activist

256

76.4

79

23.6

335

100.0

Existing activist

427

76.5

131

23.5

558

100.0

Multiple role

417

75.5

135

24.5

552

100.0

Single role (ULR)

269

77.7

77

22.3

346

100.0

45 years or younger

222

79.0

59

21.0

281

100.0

46+ years

442

75.9

140

24.1

582

100.0

Service as ULR (3 years or less)***

333

70.9

137

29.1

470

100.0

Service as ULR (over 3 years)***

342

82.8

71

17.2

413

100.0

Table 15 – Recruitment and ULR characteristics Have you recruited new members into the union in the last 12 months? Yes

No

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

Female

273

73.0

101

27.0

374

100.0

Male

376

75.4

124

24.6

499

100.0

New activist***

202

60.3

133

39.7

335

100.0

Existing activist***

458

82.1

100

17.9

558

100.0

Multiple role***

461

83.5

91

16.5

552

100.0

Single role (ULR)***

204

59.0

142

41.0

346

100.0

45 years or younger**

192

69.1

86

30.9

278

100.0

46+ years**

452

77.3

133

22.7

585

100.0

Service as ULR (3 years or less)***

334

70.6

139

29.4

473

100.0

Service as ULR (over 3 years)***

325

79.3

85

20.7

410

100.0

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

23


Existing activists who may have a number of roles within the union branch may not only have more experience and confidence but also may have a broader range of contacts and relationships with potential members which may help successful recruitment. It could also be argued that such activists are likely to have a broader perspective of the ULR role and appreciate its potential for extending organisation. In contrast new activists may not only be less experienced but also more focused on learning as opposed to wider issues. Over three-quarters (77.1%) of new activists did not hold another role within the union, while 83.2% of existing activists held additional union posts. Interestingly, the importance of these characteristics tends to fade away when one examines their relationship to our broader index of activity (see table 16). The findings outlined in table 16 (below) suggest that there is very little difference between new activists and those with more trade union experience. A slightly higher proportion of existing activists

recorded high levels of activity but this was not statistically significant. A similar picture emerges in relation to other variables – a marginally higher percentage of female ULRs were of activity compared to their male counterparts, while those ULRs with over three years’ service in the role were a little more likely to have high levels of activity. Again neither of these indicators were of statistical significance. In fact the only relationship that was significant (at the 1% level) was the age of the ULR – over 43% of ULRs who were 45 or under were highly active compared to 31.4% of those over 45. Tables 17, 18 and 19 explore the influence of ULR characteristics on three different measures of impact. The findings here are intriguing. In terms of increasing the numbers of workers accessing training, two factors were statistically significant. Firstly, female ULRs appeared to be a little more likely to report a positive impact than their male counterparts. Secondly, experience as a ULR again appeared to be important, with a higher proportion of those ULRs with more service reporting greater success in increasing the numbers being trained.

Table 16 – ULR characteristics and index of activity Activity

24

Low

Medium

High

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

Female

115

32.7

106

30.1

131

37.2

352

100.0

Not female

161

33.5

157

32.7

162

33.8

480

100.0

New activist

177

33.3

172

32.3

183

34.4

532

100.0

Existing activist

104

32.3

96

29.8

122

37.9

322

100.0

Multiple role

168

32.0

166

31.6

191

36.4

525

100.0

Single role (ULR)

117

35.3

99

29.9

115

34.7

331

99.9

45 years or less***

74

27.3

79

29.2

118

43.5

271

100.0

46+ years***

200

36.1

180

32.5

174

31.4

554

100.0

Service as ULR (3 years or less)

150

33.1

146

32.2

157

34.7

453

100.0

Service as ULR (over 3 years)

128

32.5

120

30.5

146

37.1

394

100.1


In addition to service as a ULR, age and whether ULRs had multiple roles were all statistically significant

in relation to the impact of ULR activity on unionmanagement relationships (see table 18).

Table 17 – ULR Characteristics and numbers accessing training Has your ULR activity increased the numbers of colleagues accessing training? Yes

To a certain extent n %

n

%

n

%

n

%

No

Unsure

Total

n

%

Female**

180

47.2

113

29.7

40

10.5

48

12.6

381

100.0

Male**

227

44.3

183

35.7

31

6.1

711

13.9

512

100.0

New activist

155

46.0

116

34.4

37

11.0

29

8.6

337

100.0

Existing activist

256

45.1

181

31.9

87

15.3

44

7.7

568

100.0

Multiple role

258

46.1

171

30.5

84

15.0

47

8.4

560

100.0

Single role

157

44.9

126

36.0

40

11.4

27

7.7

350

100.0

45 years or less

134

47.5

96

34.0

33

11.7

19

6.7

282

99.9

46+ years Service as ULR (3 years or less)*** Service as ULR (over 3 years)***

267

44.6

199

33.3

85

14.2

47

7.9

598

100.0

187

39.4

166

34.9

79

16.6

43

9.1

475

100.0

221

52.4

132

40

9.5

29

6.9

422

100.1

31.3

Table 18 – Union-management relationships and ULR characteristics Do you feel that your ULR activity has improved relationships between the union and managers? Yes

To a certain extent

No

Unsure

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

Female

82

21.5

135

35.3

107

28.0

58

15.2

382

100.0

Not female

114

22.4

198

39.0

139

27.4

57

11.2

508

100.0

New activist

65

19.5

119

35.6

87

26.0

63

18.9

334

100.0

Existing activist

135

23.8

212

37.3

162

28.5

59

10.4

568

100.0

Multiple role**

142

25.4

205

36.7

146

26.1

66

11.8

559

100.0

Single role (ULR)**

58

16.7

131

37.6

103

29.6

56

16.1

348

100.0

45 years or less**

59

21.1

93

33.2

82

29.3

46

16.4

280

100.0

46+ years**

136

22.8

236

39.5

162

27.1

63

10.6

597

100.0

93

19.7

161

34.0

137

29.0

82

17.3

473

100.0

108

25.7

165

39.3

109

26.0

38

9.0

420

100.0

Service as ULR (3 years or less)*** Service as ULR (over 3 years)***

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

25


Taken together, it could be argued that more experienced ULRs who may have been working in organisations for a longer period of time are more likely to have the existing relationships with managers necessary to improve employment relations. Moreover, those ULRs with multiple union roles and older ULRs were also more likely to report this effect than dedicated ULRs. This possibly reflects the broader relationships that ULRs who are involved with a range of workplace issues are able to develop.

Length of service and whether the ULR had additional union roles were also both statistically significant in relation to increasing interest in union membership (see table 19). It could be argued that more experienced union activists who are involved in and have a perspective on a relatively wide range of issues may be better placed than dedicated and inexperienced ULRs who may have a more narrow focus.

Table 19 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Interest in union membership and ULR characteristics Do you feel that your ULR activity has increased interest in union membership? Yes

No

Unsure

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

Female

95

24.8

157

41.0

96

25.1

35

9.1

383

100.0

Male

120

23.4

236

46.1

100

19.5

56

10.9

512

99.9

New activist

68

20.2

149

44.2

72

21.4

48

14.2

337

100.0

Existing activist

150

26.3

248

43.4

124

21.7

49

8.6

571

100.0

Multiple role***

156

27.8

256

45.6

104

18.5

46

8.2

562

100.1

Single role (ULR)***

63

18.0

145

41.4

91

26.0

51

14.6

350

100.0

45 years or less

67

23.8

126

44.7

60

21.2

29

10.3

282

100.0

46+ years

148

24.7

264

44.0

130

21.7

58

9.6

600

100.0

95

20.0

208

43.7

110

23.1

63

13.2

476

100.0

123

29.1

187

44.3

82

19.4

30

7.1

422

99.9

Service as ULR (3 years or less)*** Service as ULR (over 3 years)***

26

To a certain extent


However, when the impact of ULR activity as a whole is examined (see table 20), the only statistically significant relationship was with the number of years the respondent has served as a ULR. The findings here clearly suggest that those ULRs with more experience may have a greater impact. Almost one-third of those active ULRs with over three years’ service believed that they were having a ‘high impact’ as opposed to just over one-fifth of less experienced ULRs. Of course this could simply reflect greater confidence as opposed to concrete results. Interestingly, those ULRs over the age of 45 were a little more positive about their impact than their younger colleagues, though this relationship was not statistically significant. In respect of this broader measure, there was little evidence to suggest the impact of new and existing activists is significantly different. Similarly, there was

nothing to support the argument that ULRs with more than one role may be hampered by multiple duties. In fact, a smaller proportion (25.8%) of those with multiple roles reported low impact compared with 30.3% who had no additional union responsibilities. While this was not statistically significant it might suggest that there is a degree of complementarity between different union functions. Overall the one factor that would appear to consistently underpin higher levels of activity and impact is the experience of ULRs. Those with more than three years as a ULR reported consistently better outcomes in terms of both activity and impact. In addition, there was little evidence that ULR activity was squeezed out by the other roles that most ULRs occupy. In contrast, the findings suggested that the broader activities of some ULRs may increase their impact in terms of increasing interest in union membership and building good relationships with managers.

Table 20 – ULR characteristics and index of impact Low impact

Medium impact

High impact

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

Female

65

26.6

115

47.1

64

26.2

244

99.9

Not female

114

28.6

184

46.2

100

25.1

398

99.9

New activist

105

27.0

184

47.3

100

25.7

389

100.0

Existing activist

74

29.5

116

46.0

62

24.6

252

100.1

Multiple role

101

25.8

187

47.8

103

26.3

391

99.9

Single role (ULR)

77

30.3

115

45.3

62

24.4

254

100.0

45 years or less

56

25.5

113

51.4

51

23.2

220

100.1

46+ years

121

28.9

185

44.3

112

26.8

418

100.0

Service as ULR (3 years or less)**

110

31.7

167

48.1

70

20.2

347

100.0

Service as ULR (over 3 years)**

66

22.8

129

44.6

94

32.5

289

99.9

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

27


Activity, impact and support for union learning It has been argued that ULR activity is dependent on the degree to which ULRs are supported, both by their own unions and also by employers. In fact, evidence from the 2009 survey suggested that organisational attitudes towards ULRs were relatively positive. More than half of those active ULRs responding agreed that learning was a high priority for the organisation compared to around a quarter who disagreed. Furthermore, 53.5% of ULRs believed that senior management recognised the importance of basic skills, compared to just 20% who claimed that this was not the case. More worryingly, only 34% of ULRs felt valued by senior management. It could also be argued that employer support would affect a ULR’s ability to sustain activity. In fact, inactive ULRs had similar views regarding support from senior management. In terms of how these attitudes are translated into concrete support, the 2009 survey showed a general improvement in the provision of time off for ULRs compared with 2007. This may

reflect increased awareness of statutory entitlements. However, the situation was by no means perfect with over 30% of active ULRs still of the view that they did not get reasonable time off to arrange learning or training. Of greater concern was the finding that only 41.5% of active ULRs received cover for their regular job and just over one–quarter of active ULRs enjoyed a reduced workload. A minority (46%) received either or both types of support from their employer. This was unchanged from the 2007 ULR survey. The overwhelming majority of both active and inactive ULRs were very positive regarding the support they received from both their union and unionlearn. Eighty per cent of active ULRs received sufficient support from their union, with three-quarters happy with the support provided by unionlearn (75.1%). Inactive ULRs had similar views in respect of support of their union and colleagues to their active counterparts, with almost 80% reporting that they were well supported by their union. However, a key question is what effect do these factors have on activity and impact?

Table 21 – Support for ULR activity and arrangement of courses Have you arranged or helped to arrange courses for your members in the last 12 months? Yes

28

No

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

Reasonable time off (yes)***

539

81.7

121

18.3

660

100.0

Reasonable time off (no)***

128

63.7

73

36.3

201

100.0

Cover ***

294

83.3

59

16.7

353

100.0

No cover***

365

73.6

131

26.4

496

100.0

Reduced workload***

197

85.7

33

14.3

230

100.0

No reduced workload***

458

74.7

155

25.3

613

100.0

Agree senior mgmt. values activities***

264

88.9

33

11.1

297

100.0

Unsure/disagree senior mgmt. values activities***

403

71.0

165

29.0

568

100.0

Sufficient union support***

571

79.7

145

20.3

716

100.0

Insufficient union support***

123

65.4

65

34.6

188

100.0


The data contained in table 21 suggests that there was a strong and significant relationship (at the 1% level) between all indicators of support for ULRs and whether the respondent had been active in arranging courses for members. Of course, separating cause and effect is problematic here as the more active ULRs may also be those that feel more valued. Furthermore, it is important to note that the majority of those ULRs who received little support were still able to arrange courses for members.

Interestingly the relationship between these factors and member recruitment activities appears to be less straightforward. Nonetheless, whether ULRs felt valued by senior management and the support of the union did appear to underpin (to some extent) greater success in recruiting new members (see table 22). For example, 34.8% of respondents who did not feel that they received sufficient union support had failed to recruit new members, compared with 23.3% who were happy with the backing of their union. Both these factors were statistically significant at the 1% level.

Table 22 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Support for ULR activity and recruitment of new members Have you recruited new members into your union in the last 12 months? Yes

No

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

Reasonable time off (yes)

495

75.1

164

24.9

659

100.0

Reasonable time off (no)

151

74.8

51

25.2

202

100.0

Cover**

276

78.4

76

21.6

352

100.0

No cover**

360

72.4

137

27.6

497

100.0

Reduced workload*

182

79.8

46

20.2

228

100.0

No reduced workload*

451

73.3

164

26.7

615

100.0

Agree senior mgmt. values activities***

240

81.1

56

18.9

296

100.0

Unsure/disagree senior mgmt. values activities***

403

70.8

166

29.2

569

100.0

Sufficient union support***

550

76.7

167

23.3

717

100.0

Insufficient union support***

122

65.2

65

34.8

187

100.0

Union Learning Representatives â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Activity, Impact and Organisation

29


Table 23 examines the relationship between support and the broader activity index. In each case the relationship of the factors outlined below to ULR activity was statistically significant at the 1% level and would appear to be strongly linked to higher levels of activity. For example 52.1% of active ULRs who feel valued by senior management reported high levels of activity compared to just 27.2% who did not consider themselves to be valued.

These factors would also appear to be very important in translating activity into learning opportunities for workers (see table 24). Where ULRs received cover and/or reduced workload for their activities, higher proportions claimed to have increased the number of their colleagues accessing training. All support variables were statistically significant at the 1% level, although union support seemed to have less impact than other measures that reflected employer backing for ULR activity.

Table 23 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Support for ULRs and index of activity Activity

Medium

High

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

Reasonable time off (yes)***

167

26.5

208

33.0

255

40.5

630

100.0

Reasonable time off (no)***

99

51.3

53

27.5

41

21.2

193

100.0

Cover ***

79

23.7

96

28.8

158

47.4

333

99.9

No cover***

183

38.4

163

34.2

131

27.5

477

100.1

Reduced workload***

35

16.0

70

32.0

114

52.1

219

100.1

No reduced workload***

225

38.3

190

32.4

172

29.3

587

100.0

Agree senior mgmt. values activities*** Unsure/disagree senior mgmt. Values activities*** Sufficient union support***

51

17.8

86

30.1

149

52.1

286

100.0

218

40.4

175

32.4

147

27.2

540

100.0

200

29.2

222

32.5

262

38.3

684

100.0

4

51.8

2

31.8

1

16.5

7

100.1

Insufficient union support***

30

Low


Table 24 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; ULR support and numbers accessing training Has your ULR activity increased the numbers of colleagues accessing training? To a certain extent

Yes

No

Unsure

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

Reasonable time-off (yes)***

346

51.4

217

32.2

69

10.3

41

6.1

673

100.0

Reasonable time-off (no)***

56

26.9

78

37.5

48

23.1

26

12.5

208

100.0

Cover***

197

54.6

110

30.5

37

10.2

17

4.7

361

100.0

No cover***

201

39.5

182

35.8

77

15.1

49

9.6

509

100.0

Reduced workload***

130

55.6

78

33.3

16

6.8

10

4.3

234

100.0

No reduced workload***

266

42.2

214

34.0

97

15.4

53

8.4

630

100.0

201

66.8

80

26.6

17

5.6

3

1.0

301

100.0

202

34.6

214

36.6

101

17.3

67

11.5

584

100.0

Sufficient union support***

348

47.4

243

33.1

87

11.9

56

7.6

734

100.0

Insufficient union support***

46

46.9

25

25.5

20

20.4

7

7.1

98

99.9

Agree senior mgmt. values activities*** Unsure/disagree senior mgmt. values activities***

Interestingly, these factors remain statistically significant when the impact of ULRs in relation to wider indicators of impact is included. Table 25 examines perceptions of management-union relations. Where ULRs felt that their activities were valued by management, 82.2% claimed that ULR activity had improved union-management relationships more generally. This compared to just

47.4% of those ULRs who did not feel valued. It is important to note that the different indicators of support are likely to be inter-related. Furthermore it is difficult to untangle the direction of causality. For example, where good employment relations exist already, one might argue that support for ULR activity is more likely to be provided.

Union Learning Representatives â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Activity, Impact and Organisation

31


Table 25 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; ULR support and union-management relationships Do you feel that your ULR activity has improved relationships between the union and managers? To a certain Yes No Unsure extent n % n % n % n %

n

%

Reasonable time-off (yes)***

178

26.4

277

41.2

137

20.4

81

12.0

673

100.0

Reasonable time-off (no)***

17

8.2

55

26.6

104

50.2

31

15.0

207

100.0

Cover***

117

32.6

141

39.3

69

19.2

32

8.9

359

100.0

No cover***

72

14.2

187

36.8

171

33.7

78

15.4

508

100.1

Reduced workload***

77

33.0

103

44.2

33

14.2

20

8.6

233

100.0

No reduced workload***

109

17.4

223

35.5

206

32.8

90

14.3

628

100.0

Agree senior mgmt. values activities*** Unsure/disagree senior mgmt. values activities*** Sufficient union support***

122

40.3

127

41.9

31

10.2

23

7.6

303

99.9

73

12.5

203

34.9

213

36.6

93

16.0

582

100.0

177

24.2

286

39.1

179

24.5

89

12.2

731

100.0

Insufficient union support***

27

14.3

55

29.1

72

38.1

35

18.5

189

100.0

However, one might expect that employer support may be less important in underpinning a ULRâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ability to generate interest in the union. In fact, table 26 (below) shows that there was still a statistically significant association between all support variables and whether ULR activity increased interest in union membership. For example, almost a third of all respondents who felt

32

Total

that their activity was valued by senior management also claimed that it increased interest in union membership, compared to less than one in five (19.9%) of ULRs who did not feel valued. This might suggest that adequate support may provide the time and space for ULRs to engage in broader activity beyond the delivery of learning opportunities.


Table 26 – ULR Support and interest in union membership Do you feel that your ULR activity has increased interest in union membership? To a certain extent

Yes

No

Unsure

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

Reasonable time-off (yes)**

175

25.9

303

45.0

129

19.1

67

9.9

674

99.9

Reasonable time-off (no)**

40

19.1

86

41.1

61

29.2

22

10.5

209

99.9

Cover***

108

29.9

169

46.8

56

15.5

28

7.8

361

100.0

No cover***

105

20.6

214

42.0

132

25.9

59

11.6

510

100.1

Reduced workload***

66

28.3

115

49.4

30

12.9

22

9.4

233

100.0

No reduced workload*** Agree senior mgmt. values activities*** Unsure/disagree senior mgmt. values activities*** Sufficient union support***

144

22.8

268

42.4

156

24.7

64

10.1

632

100.0

98

32.3

140

46.2

40

13.2

24

7.9

303

100.0

116

19.9

249

42.6

153

26.2

66

11.3

584

100.0

195

26.5

332

45.2

138

18.8

70

9.5

735

100.0

Insufficient union support***

29

15.3

74

38.9

59

31.1

28

14.7

190

100.0

Table 27 – ULR support and index of impact Impact

Low

Medium

High

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

Reasonable time-off (yes)***

106

21.2

246

49.1

149

29.7

501

100.0

Reasonable time-off (no)***

72

51.1

56

39.7

13

9.2

141

100.0

Cover***

49

18.9

121

46.7

89

34.4

259

100.0

No cover***

127

34.0

179

48.0

67

18.0

373

100.0

Reduced workload***

27

15.7

87

50.6

58

33.7

172

100.0

No reduced workload***

149

32.6

213

46.6

95

20.8

457

100.0

Agree senior mgmt. values activities***

23

10.5

100

45.5

97

44.0

220

100.0

Unsure/disagree senior mgmt. values activities***

157

37.2

200

47.4

65

15.4

422

100.0

Sufficient union support***

127

24.2

251

47.9

146

27.9

524

100.0

Insufficient union support***

54

41.9

54

41.9

21

16.3

129

100.1

The findings were largely replicated when the broader index of impact was used (see table above). Although all relationships were statistically significant at the 1% level, the strongest factor appeared to be whether

ULRs felt that they were valued by senior management. Where ULRs felt valued, 44% reported high impact compared to just 15.4% of those who did not.

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

33


One can see from the analysis above that there is consistent evidence that the support of senior managers is a key factor in maximizing both ULR activity and impact. Moreover, it suggests that impact is enhanced where management support is translated into concrete measures such as time-off, cover and reduced workload.

with 57% in the ULR survey) while 57% worked in the context of a learning partnership (compared with 47% in the ULR survey). Moreover, those managers responding to the survey operated within a generally positive industrial relations climate with 80.2% characterising managemen-union relations as either quite positive (38.7%) or very positive (41.5%).

However, these findings are based on the perceptions of ULRs, therefore, it is important to briefly examine data from the survey of managers in regard to their views as to ULR activity (see table 28, below).

Furthermore, almost 60% believed that ULRs had helped to raise basic skills levels within their organisations. Interestingly a common perception that ULR activity may get in the way of normal operating priorities was not supported by the overwhelming majority (87.4%) of respondents. The vast proportion (88.2%) of managers surveyed claimed that they valued the contribution made by ULRs although they were not as certain whether that view was shared in the rest of that organisation, with 56.3% agreeing that ULR activity was valued by their organisationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s management. Irrespective of this, over three-quarters believed that ULRs were adequately supported by management.

Most managers were consistently positive about the contribution made by ULRs. A majority of respondents agreed that ULR activity had helped to narrow skills gaps and contributed to the improvement of union management relations. It is important to note that the sample of managers was not necessarily representative as it depended on referrals from ULR respondents. For example over two thirds (67%) of managers responding to the survey had a formal learning agreement in force in their organisation (compared Table 28 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Managersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; perceptions of ULR impact

To what extent do you agree with the following statements regarding the impact of ULR activity in your organisation? Agree Freq Agree Unsure Disagree strongly

It has helped to close existing skills gaps It has contributed to improved staff retention It has helped to improve unionmanagement relations It has raised levels of basic skills amongst employees It gets in the way of normal production and service It has increased demand for training Not all rows add to 100% due to rounding

34

Disagree strongly

n

%

%

%

%

%

111

11.7

42.3

27.0

19.0

0

110

4.5

17.3

48.1

27.3

2.7

111

8.1

50.5

27.0

13.5

0.9

111

8.1

51.4

26.1

14.4

0

111

1.8

10.8

17.1

57.7

12.6

112

4.5

42.9

27.7

25.0

0


Learning institutions – activity and impact While the above analysis points to the importance of both management and union support in underpinning ULR activity, previous research has suggested that formal workplace institutions may also be crucial in providing a firm foundation for union learning. The 2009 survey showed an increase in the proportion of active ULRs reporting agreements – 56.6%, compared with 51% in 2007. However, this still fell short of the 61% reported in 2005. Furthermore, only 34.5% reported the existence of a union learning centre, continuing a downward trend from 52% in 2005 and 44% in 2007. Almost half of active ULRs (46.7%) also worked within the context of a formal learning partnership, with just over half having access to a working group or committee where union learning issues could be discussed with the employer. Almost 45% of (active) respondents reported that their employers had signed the Skills Pledge. Interestingly, the presence of a learning agreement and/or a learning partnership did not seem to have an impact on ULR inactivity. Fifty-five percent of inactive ULRs had been covered by a formal learning agreement, while 48% had worked within a learning partnership – similar proportions as those for active ULRs. It has also been argued that the extent to which learning and skills is integrated within structures of

collective bargaining is an important factor. The 2009 survey found a mixed picture in this respect. Around two-thirds of active ULRs negotiated at least once a year with their managers regarding learning, while three-quarters consulted over these issues. More than a quarter of all respondents (27.8%) reported that they would normally meet more than four times per year to negotiate over learning. This suggests that learning and training is a key collective bargaining issue in a significant proportion of workplaces. However there was a substantial minority who appeared to have little contact with their managers over learning. More than a third (34.5%) never negotiated and almost one quarter (24.9%) were not consulted by management. Just under one-quarter (22.8%) of active ULRs neither negotiated nor were they consulted. This is broadly comparable with findings from the 2007 survey, which found that over a quarter of ULRs had no contact with managers in the previous 12 months to discuss training. Tables 29 and 30 explore the relationship between the presence of learning ‘institutions’ and two measures of impact. The former looks at the arrangement of courses for members. Here, the presence of learning agreements, learning partnerships and whether the employer had signed the Skills Pledge appeared to be linked to higher proportions of respondents arranging courses and were all statistically significant at the 1% level.

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

35


However, the strongest factor seemed to be whether the respondent negotiated with their managers over learning and training. Where this was the case, 85.6% had arranged courses for members in the previous 12 months. However, where learning and training was not subject to negotiation, 40.9% of respondents had not been active in this way.

The picture was very different in relation to whether ULRs had recruited new members (see table 30). Here, the only variable that was statistically significant was whether the ULR negotiated with the employer over learning. Where negotiations took place, 81.6% of active respondents had recruited new members in the last 12 months compared with 61.3% of their colleagues who were not involved in negotiations.

Table 29 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Learning institutions and arrangement of courses Have you arranged or helped to arrange courses for your members in the last 12 months? Yes

No

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

Learning agreement***

421

84.4

78

15.6

499

100.0

No learning agreement***

199

71.8

78

28.2

277

100.0

Learning partnership***

347

84.8

62

15.2

409

100.0

No learning partnership***

249

73.7

89

26.3

338

100.0

Skills pledge***

337

86.2

54

13.8

391

100.0

No skills pledge***

131

72.8

49

27.2

180

100.0

Negotiation over learning (at least once a year)***

501

85.6

84

14.4

585

100.0

No negotiation over learning***

178

59.1

124

40.9

301

100.0

Table 30 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Learning institutions and recruitment of members Have you recruited new members into your union in the last 12 months? Yes

36

No

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

Learning agreement

382

76.9

115

23.1

497

100.0

No learning agreement

213

76.6

65

23.4

278

100.0

Learning partnership

306

74.8

103

25.2

409

100.0

No learning partnership

260

77.6

75

22.4

335

100.0

Skills pledge

307

78.9

82

21.1

389

100.0

No skills pledge

142

78.5

39

21.5

181

100.0

Negotiation over learning (at least once a year)***

470

80.6

113

19.4

583

100.0

No negotiation over learning***

184

61.3

116

38.7

300

100.0


Of course this could reflect the fact that in organisations where collective bargaining has a high profile, it may be easier to recruit. However it could also be argued that if negotiations underpin increased ULR activity and concrete learning and training outcomes, this may (indirectly) help ULRs to convince colleagues of the merits of union membership. When the broader index of activity was examined, the influence of these factors was clear. All variables were statistically significant at the 1% level. More than 45% of those respondents working under a learning agreement reported high levels of activity compared to just 27% of their colleagues who did not enjoy such institutional support. Similarly, more than one-third of ULRs (35.6%) whose employers had not signed the

Skills Pledge recorded low levels of activity. However, in those organisations that had signed, less than onefifth (18.6%) of ULRs were similarly affected. Importantly, where negotiations took place, 45.9% of ULRs recorded high levels of activity. This figure fell to just 15.7% where the employer did not negotiate over learning. In such cases, well over half (57.1%) of ULRs had low activity levels. This tends to suggest that either, negotiations themselves are a critical factor in underpinning union learning and/or reflect a broader engagement with unions on the part of employers. When impact was examined, workplace institutions also appeared to have a positive effect. All the variables examined here were statistically significant at the 1% level.

Table 31 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Learning institutions and index of activity Activity

Low

Medium

High

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

Learning agreement***

105

22.2

153

32.3

215

45.5

473

100.0

No learning agreement***

102

38.2

93

34.8

72

27.0

267

100.0

Learning partnership***

97

25.1

116

30.1

173

44.8

386

100.0

No learning partnership***

110

33.8

113

34.8

102

31.4

325

100.0

Skills pledge***

69

18.6

121

32.7

180

48.6

370

99.9

No skills pledge***

62

35.6

59

33.9

53

30.5

174

100.0

Negotiation over learning***

117

20.9

186

33.2

257

45.9

560

100.0

No negotiation over learning (at least once a year)***

164

57.1

78

27.2

45

15.7

287

100.0

Union Learning Representatives â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Activity, Impact and Organisation

37


The data in table 32 clearly suggests that the presence of a learning agreement, learning partnership and the Skills Pledge all tended to coincide with larger numbers of workers accessing training (according to ULR respondents). However, it is important to note even where these institutions were absent, ULRs remained fairly positive about their impact. For example, 71% of ULRs without a formal learning agreement, claimed that the numbers of colleagues accessing training had increased, while in those organisations which failed to sign the Skills Pledge over three-quarters (77.5%) reported an increase. As with measures of activity, whether ULRs negotiated over learning and training also had a statistically

significant association with impact. This was also true in regard to the impact of ULR activity on improving unionâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;management relationships (see table 33, below). A total of 73.9% of ULRs who negotiated with their managers claimed that their activity improved relations, compared with just 30.5% who were not involved in negotiations. Amongst this group, nearly half (46.7%) felt that their activity had not improved their relations with management. Importantly, it should be noted that where good relations exist or have improved, negotiations will be more likely to take place. Nonetheless, this data clearly suggests that collective bargaining over learning and training is fundamental to ULR activity and impact.

Table 32 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Learning institutions and numbers accessing training Do you feel that your ULR activity has increased the numbers of colleagues accessing training? To a certain Yes No Unsure extent n % n % n % n %

38

Total n

%

Learning agreement***

287

56.7

158

31.2

37

7.3

24

4.7

506

100.0

No learning agreement***

97

33.9

106

37.1

62

21.7

21

7.3

286

100.0

Learning partnership***

249

60.1

113

27.3

36

8.7

16

3.9

414

100.0

No learning partnership***

123

35.3

134

38.5

62

17.8

29

8.3

348

100.0

Skills pledge***

217

54.7

119

30.0

40

10.1

21

5.3

397

100.0

No skills pledge***

70

37.4

75

40.1

31

16.6

11

5.9

187

100.0

Negotiation over learning (at least once per year)***

329

55.9

180

30.6

47

8.0

33

5.6

589

100.1

No negotiation over learning***

79

25.7

117

38.1

72

23.5

39

12.7

307

100.0


When we examine the impact of ULR activity on increasing interest in union membership (see table 34), whether or not the Skills Pledge had been signed by the employer was not statistically significant. In addition, the association with the existence of a learning agreement and learning partnership was not as strong as that with other measures of impact. The occurrence of negotiations again appeared to be

the most influential factor, with a higher proportion of those ULRs involved in collective bargaining likely to report increased interest amongst the workers they cover. One explanation for this may be that where learning and training issues are subjected to negotiation they are linked to broader notions of pay and conditions – hence ULR activity is seen by employees to have a wider relevance.

Table 33 – Learning institutions and union-management relationships Do you feel that your ULR activity has improved union-management relations? To a certain Yes No extent n % n % n %

n

%

n

%

Learning agreement***

147

29.1

210

41.6

97

19.2

51

10.1

505

100.0

No learning agreement***

44

15.4

99

34.6

105

36.7

38

13.3

286

100.0

Learning partnership***

121

29.3

163

39.5

87

21.1

42

10.2

413

100.1

No learning partnership***

59

17.1

128

37.0

118

34.1

41

11.8

346

100.0

Skills pledge***

114

28.9

161

40.8

75

19.0

45

11.4

395

100.1

No skills pledge*** Negotiation over learning (at least once a year)*** No negotiation over learning***

37

19.8

67

35.8

64

34.2

19

10.2

187

100.0

180

30.5

256

43.4

104

17.6

50

8.5

590

100.0

20

6.6

75

24.8

141

46.7

66

21.9

302

100.0

Unsure

Total

Table 34 – Learning institutions and interest in union membership Do you feel that your ULR activity has increased interest in union membership? Yes, to a certain Yes No extent n % n % n %

n

%

n

%

Learning agreement**

139

27.5

233

46.0

88

17.4

46

9.1

506

100.0

No learning agreement**

59

20.5

124

43.1

77

26.7

28

9.7

288

100.0

Learning partnership**

127

30.6

164

39.6

86

20.8

37

8.9

414

99.9

No learning partnership**

69

19.8

164

47.0

82

23.5

34

9.7

349

100.0

Skills pledge

100

25.2

187

47.0

75

18.8

36

9.0

398

100.0

No skills pledge Negotiation over learning (at least once a year)*** No negotiation over learning***

52

27.7

79

42.0

45

23.9

12

6.4

188

100.0

168

28.5

279

47.3

99

16.8

44

7.4

590

100.0

47

15.3

119

38.8

93

30.3

48

15.6

307

100.0

Unsure

Total

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

39


When the effects of learning institutions on our broader index of impact were examined (see table 35, below), all the relationships were statistically significant at the 1% level. Where a learning agreement was in place 34.2% of ULRs reported high impact, as opposed to just 15.9% where no agreement had been made. However, whether there was negotiation over training, this again appeared to be the most influential factor â&#x20AC;&#x201C; where negotiations did not take place, over half (52.2%) of ULRs reported low impact.

Overall therefore, the findings above suggest that the presence of learning institutions such as formal learning agreements and learning partnerships have a positive effect on both ULR activity and (particularly) impact. However, the most powerful factor appears to be whether or not ULRs negotiate over learning and training with their managers. Where this takes place activity is not only likely to be high but is likely to be converted into concrete outcomes.

Table 35 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Learning institutions and index of impact Impact

40

Low

Medium

High

Total

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

Learning agreement***

63

16.7

185

49.1

129

34.2

377

100.0

No learning agreement***

81

39.1

93

44.9

33

15.9

377

99.9

Learning partnership***

56

18.2

139

45.3

112

36.5

307

100.0

No learning partnership***

88

34.5

127

49.8

40

15.7

255

100.0

Skills pledge***

58

19.1

139

45.9

106

35.0

303

100.0

No skills pledge***

46

32.9

68

48.6

26

18.6

140

100.1

Negotiation over learning (at least once a year)***

71

16.3

216

49.7

148

34.0

435

100.0

No negotiation over learning***

107

52.2

83

40.5

15

7.3

205

100.0


Explaining ULR activity and impact In the analysis above we have examined four sets of factors, which the literature to date suggests may shape the activity of ULRs and the impact of that activity: workplace context; ULR characteristics; workplace support for ULR activity; and the existence of workplace learning institutions. Of course, many of these variables may be closely interrelated. For example organisations within the public sector will also tend to be large and highly unionised. Such organisations may also be more likely to negotiate over learning and training. Therefore to begin to untangle these different variables we have constructed hierarchical regression models to predict both activity and impact. These are presented in tables 36, 37 and 38. Within the models the dependent variables are the index of activity and impact respectively. By constructing the models in this way, it is possible to examine how adding different groups of variables alters predictive value and so assess their relative influence. In step one, four independent contextual variables were entered into the model: dummy variables relating to union density and sector and two further variables to capture large (251–1,000 employees) and very large organisations (over 1,000 employees). Whether ULRs were located in the public or private sector appears to have little effect and is not statistically significant in respect of either activity or impact. In contrast, organisation size and union density are more influential. Higher levels of ULR activity and impact were more likely to be found in larger organisations and there is also a positive and statistically significant association between union density, activity and particularly impact. However, these relationships need to be treated with some caution as the model as a whole has a relatively low predictive value. Therefore, in step 2, we added a set of variables reflecting the characteristics of ULRs. These were gender; whether the ULR had previously held a union post (new activist); whether the ULR had more than

one role (multiple role); the age of the ULR; and the length of time that the respondent had been a ULR. The addition of these variables increases the predictive power of the model (change in r sq.) but not substantially. The factors that were significant at step one – organisational size and union density – remain so in this model. Intriguingly, there is a negative and statistically significant association between age and activity. However, age is not significant in predicting impact. Perhaps more importantly, there is a positive and strongly significant relationship between impact and ULR service. Clearly, the relationship between age, experience and ULR activity and impact is not simple – nonetheless, it could be suggested that while the energy and enthusiasm of younger ULRs may be vital in generating activity, the successful delivery of outcomes needs a degree of experience and with it the know-how to navigate organisational politics and processes. In step 3, a series of variables that indicate different types and degrees of workplace support for ULR activity were entered into the model. These measured whether ULRs received reasonable time-off for their activities; received cover for their activities; benefited from reduced workload; received sufficient support from their union; and received adequate support from senior management. In respect of both activity and to a larger extent impact, the addition of these variables substantially increases the power of the model. Furthermore, the change in r sq. (predictive value) suggests that these variables are particularly influential in regard to impact. Notably, the model suggests that adequate managerial support is key to high levels of activity and also to turning that activity into concrete outcomes. In addition, both activity and impact are likely to be higher where ULRs feel that they receive sufficient union support. Reasonable time-off, provision of cover and reduced workload are all positively related to both activity and impact and statistically significant (albeit weakly in relation to activity). When these support factors are controlled for, a significant and

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

41


Table 36 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Hierarchical regression model, steps 1â&#x20AC;&#x201C;3 Index of ULR Activity Variable

B

Beta

Change in Rsq

B

Beta

Step 1 - Workplace Context (Constant)

6.274

Workplace in the public sector

.240

.048

.660

.040

Org size 251-1,000 employees

.840

.121**

1.915

.082*

Org size more than 1,000 employees

.885

.183**

1.943

.119**

Union density greater than 60%

.508

.102**

2.124

.127***

Rsq

0.039

0.039

0.029

7.563

Workplace in the public sector

.159

.032

.700

.042

Org size 251-1,000 employees

.854

.123**

1.992

.085*

Org size more than 1,000 employees

.844

.174**

1.800

.111**

Union density greater than 60%

.533

.107**

1.966

.117***

Female

.214

.046

.596

.038

New Activist

-.155

-.033

-.690

-.043

Multiple Role

.262

.056

.718

.046

Age

-.030

-.114**

-.009

-0.010

0.029

29.930

0.056

0.017

Step 3 Support in the Workplace (Constant) 6.517

0.061

0.032

25.951

Workplace in the public sector

.120

.024

.469

.028

Org size 251-1,000 employees

.747

.107**

1.616

.069

Org size more than 1,000 employees

.747

.154**

1.333

.082*

Union density greater than 60%

.409

.082**

1.634

.097***

Female

.328

.071

.993

.064*

New Activist

-.080

-.017

-.220

-.014

Multiple Role

.130

.028

.109

.007

Age

-.033

-.126**

-0.027

-.030

Length of time as a ULR

-.007

-.008

.360

.123***

Adequate support from senior management

.703

.154**

4.457

.290***

Reasonable time off for ULR activity

.426

.079*

1.906

.105**

Employer provides cover

.368

.079*

1.369

.088**

Employer reduces workload

.579

.113*

1.239

.072*

Union Support

.638

.113**

1.909

.101***

Rsq

Change in Rsq

31.465

Step 2 ULR Characteristics (Constant)

Rsq

0.166

*, **, *** - indicates significance at 10%, 5% and 1% respectively

42

Index of ULR Impact

0.110

0.249

0.188


positive relationship between organisational size and activity remains, but size is no longer significant in predicting ULR impact. However, union density is still positively and significantly associated to both activity and impact, while ULR service remains positively related to impact. Interestingly, gender becomes an issue within this model, with women ULRs associated (weakly) with higher impact. Our initial analysis of the data pointed to the importance of workplace institutions to support learning and training and also suggested that the existence of negotiations over learning and training may be an influential factor in shaping ULR activity and impact. In order to examine this, at step 4 we added four separate variables to the model: whether an organisation has a learning agreement; whether there is a formal learning partnership between union and employers; whether the employer has signed the ‘Skills Pledge’, and whether ULRs negotiate with managers over learning and training at least once a year. The results of this are found in table 37. Introducing variables reflecting the presence of workplace learning institutions substantially increases the predictive power of the models, which now account for 28.6% of the variation in ULR activity and 33.6% of the variation in ULR impact respectively. It also provides a more complete analysis of the factors underpinning activity and impact. Context is important in determining ULR activity with both variables measuring organisational size positively and significantly associated with the activity index. In short, higher activity is more likely to be found in larger organisations, possibly reflecting the greater resources to support both ULRs and learning in general in such settings. In addition, there is a clear positive link between high activity and union density. Personal characteristics appear to be less important in shaping ULR activity. There is little evidence that new activists are less likely to generate activity or that ULRs with additional union functions suffer role overload. Moreover, service as a ULR is not statistically significant in relation to activity. In contrast, age

is negatively and significantly (at the 5% level) associated with activity. Interestingly, there is some evidence that gender is important, with female ULRs linked to higher activity – although this variable is only weakly significant. All those variables reflecting employer support for ULRs are positively related to activity, but only senior management support and the provision of reduced workload are significant and only at the 10% level. Here, union support seems to be more influential. By far the most powerful predictor of activity in this model is whether negotiations took place between ULRs and management over learning – confirming the importance of collective bargaining structures within the workplace. This factor overshadows more formal institutions of workplace learning: although the presence of learning agreements and learning partnerships are positively related to ULR activity, neither is statistically significant. Nonetheless, whether or not the employer had signed the Skills Pledge is significant at the 1% level, possibly suggesting that a broad commitment to learning on the part of the employer provides a conducive environment for ULR activity. Importantly, the existence of learning agreements and learning partnerships (to a lesser effect) appears to be important in converting outcomes into impact, with both variables statistically significant at the 5% and 10% levels respectively. However, the most powerful factor is once again whether ULRs had negotiated over learning. In addition, adequate support from senior management appears to be particularly influential in shaping impact. Taken together, this may imply that, high ULR impact is not simply dependent on the existence of specific learning institutions but deeper and broader union–management engagement over learning and training. However, it could also be argued that such relationships are more likely to be developed by more experienced ULRs and underpinned by strong union organisation. In the model above both variables reflecting union support and high union density (above 60%) are significant (at 1% and 5% levels respectively) and positively

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

43


associated with impact. Finally, as with activity, women ULRs are associated (albeit weakly) with higher levels of impact.

light on this question, we combined the three separate variables related to learning institutions into one combined variable, which measures the effect on activity and impact of organisations of having a learning agreement; entering into a learning partnership with unions; and signing the ‘Skills Pledge’. Combining the variables in this way increases the predictive power in terms of both impact and activity, although only very marginally in the case of the latter (see table 38).

The findings above also lead us to question the effect of the isolated introduction of separate institutions such as learning agreements and partnerships. In particular, what would be the effect of the coordinated introduction and application of suites of initiatives and institutions? In order to shed some

Table 37 – Hierarchical regression model, step 4 – separate learning institutions variables Index of ULR Activity Variable

Beta

Change in Rsq

B

Beta

Step 4 Learning Institutions and Negotiation (Constant)

5.341

Workplace in the public sector

-.003

Org size 251-1000 employees

.714

Org size more than 1000 employees

.651

.134***

1.024

.063

Union density greater than 60%

.425

.085**

1.536

.092**

Female

.330

.072*

1.111

.072*

New Activist

-.031

-.007

-.037

-.002

Multiple Role

-.030

-.006

-.037

-.002

Age

-.024

-.092**

-.007

-.008

Length of time as a ULR

-.036

-.041

.270

.092**

Adequate support from senior management

.340

.074*

2.958

.193***

Time off for ULR activity dummy

.155

.029

.737

.041

Employer provides cover

.194

.042

.546

.035

Employer reduces workload

.411

.080*

.932

.054

Union support

.707

.125***

1.984

.104**

Formal learning agreement

.285

.060

1.887

.118**

Formal learning partnership

-.234

-.051

1.375

.089*

Skills Pledge

.548

.112***

.877

.053

ULRs and management negotiate over learning and training

1.642

.342***

4.634

.287***

Rsq

44

B

Index of ULR Impact Change in Rsq

22.146 -.001

.192

.103**

0.286

.012

1.308

0.120

.056

0.336

0.097


Nonetheless, this does suggest that introducing a suite of initiatives will have a bigger impact than where these are implemented in a sporadic and individual manner. Moreover, the above model reinforces the argument that ULR activity and impact

is likely to be most effective, not just where learning institutions are established but where there is a deep commitment to union learning on behalf of employer and union, underpinned by a functioning collective bargaining framework.

Table 38 – Hierarchical regression model, Step 4 – combined learning institutions variable Index of ULR Activity Variable

B

Beta

Change in Rsq

Index of ULR Impact B

Beta

Step 4 Learning Institutions and Negotiation (Constant)

5.515

Workplace in the public sector

.070

.014

.312

.019

Org size 251-1000 employees

.714

.103**

1.465

.063

Org size more than 1000 employees

.738

.152**

1.243

.076*

Union density greater than 60%

.417

.084*

1.577

.094***

Female

.395

.086

1.234

.080**

New Activist

-.066

-.014

-.133

-.008

Multiple Role

-.028

-.006

-.342

-.022

Age

-.023

-.089**

.002

.0002

Length of time as a ULR

-.040

-.046

.247

.084**

Adequate support senior mgt

.305

.067*

3.147

.205***

Time off for ULR activity Dummy

.229

.042

1.212

.067*

Employer provides cover

.164

.035

.646

.041

Employer reduces workload

.468

.091*

.963

.056

Union Support

.631

.112***

1.812

.095***

Workplace has all 3 formal ‘institutions’ in place

.695

.123***

3.779

.199***

ULRs and management negotiate over learning and training

1.634

.340***

4.709

.292***

Rsq

Change in Rsq

23.095

0.289

0.123

0.367

0.118

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

45


Conclusion

The findings of the 2009 survey paint a generally optimistic picture of ULR activity and impact.26 Overall, ULR activity appears to be increasing and the majority of both ULRs and their managers are positive about their impact on workplace learning and also broader measures of employment relations. Furthermore, this adds to a growing body of data that has identified the value of union learning in general27 and ULR activity in particular.28 Despite this, clear challenges remain – a sizeable minority of trained ULRs either become inactive or find it difficult to become active in the first place. Furthermore, many active ULRs face considerable pressure in attempting to find room to promote learning opportunities in the face of work and organisational pressures.29 The analysis above allows us to draw some interesting and important conclusions as to the relative influence of different variables on ULR activity and impact. In doing so, it enables us to shed light on the key factors that could underpin the further development of the ULR initiative. It has been argued that ULR activity remains largely confined to traditional contexts. Although the bulk of ULRs are still to be found in the public sector, the 2009 survey suggests that sectoral differences in activity and impact are not significant. The key contextual variable in relation to ULR activity appears to be organisational size. There was evidence that larger organisations are more likely to foster higher levels of ULR activity. This may reflect an ability to devote greater resources to learning and training and possibly more scope for freeing up ULRs to develop their role. Interestingly, organisational size did not appear to have any significant effect on the impact of ULR activity. Furthermore, despite the testing

environment, the 2009 survey found that ULRs were increasingly to be found in small- and mediumsized organisations.30 However, the analysis above suggests that such ULRs may face challenges in generating high levels of activity. Importantly it does appear that both ULR activity and impact are likely to be higher at sites with high union density. This suggests that strong union organisation is important in providing a conducive environment for union learning. There may be a number of reasons for this. Firstly, ULRs are likely to have more robust support from their own unions. Secondly, high union density means that there is a larger ‘market’ for union learning within the organisation. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it could be argued that strong workplace unions are more likely to underpin the development of constructive management–union relations; promote the establishment of workplace learning institutions; and ensure that learning and training is firmly within the scope of collective bargaining. To a certain extent, this suggests that the impact of ULR activity will be most strongly felt where trade unions are already strong.31 However, it is important to note that approximately two-thirds of ULRs working at sites with union density below 40% reported either medium or high levels of both activity and impact. Moreover, a similar proportion claimed that they had increased interest in union membership, providing some support for the notion that union learning activity can itself act as a catalyst in strengthening workplace trade unionism.32 The 2009 survey also confirmed the importance of union learning as a source of new union activists. While some commentators have argued that new activists may struggle to have an impact,33 we found little evidence

Saundry et al., 2010. Stuart et al., 2010; Stuart and Rees, 2010. 28 Bacon and Hoque, 2009; Bacon and Hoque, 2010b; Wallis et al., 2005. 29 Cassell and Lee, 2009; Hollinrake et al., 2008; Saundry et al., 2010; Thomson et al., 2007; Wood and Moore, 2005. 30 Saundry et al., 2010. 31 Lloyd and Payne, 2006; McIlroy, 2008. 32 Wood and Moore, 2004. 26 27

46


of this.34 Furthermore, concerns that the activity and impact of those ULRs with multiple union roles may be restricted35 were not borne out by the analysis above. In fact the data suggested that working across different functions may enhance the ability of ULRs to make an impact in terms of both union organisation and union–management relations. We also found a significant and negative relationship between age and ULR activity, implying that younger ULRs may see themselves as more active than their older counterparts. In contrast, while age did not appear to shape levels of impact, experience as a ULR did – there was a significant and positive relationship between length of ULR service and impact. This may reflect the fact that more experienced ULRs may be firmly embedded within organisational networks and have existing relations with managers that provide a firm foundation from which union learning can be developed. By contrast it may be difficult for new ULRs to build contacts and develop relationships in this way. This points to a need to provide support to new ULRs, so that they are able to acquire the necessary experience and know-how to maximise their activity and impact. It may also suggest that new ULRs may benefit from working alongside more experienced colleagues. Finally, one intriguing finding from the above models is a positive, albeit weakly significant, relationship between female ULRs and both activity and impact. It is not clear why women ULRs may report higher levels of activity and impact. This is perhaps one area where further research is needed. In terms of support for ULR activity, the two key factors would appear to be the support provided by senior management and by representatives’ own unions. The former is a particularly strong predictor of impact, reaffirming the importance of employer

engagement.36 While ULRs may be very active, in the face of management antipathy, generating outcomes will be much more difficult. The analysis also confirms the importance of workplace learning institutions, such as learning agreements and partnerships. However, when these were examined individually and other variables were controlled for, the results were not uniform. In relation to ULR activity, neither the presence of learning agreements nor learning partnerships were statistically significant,37 though both were associated with higher levels of impact. Furthermore, while the Skills Pledge was a strong and positive influence on activity, it was not statistically significant in predicting impact. Perhaps more importantly, the impact of learning institutions within our analysis was greater where they were adopted as a whole rather than singularly in a piecemeal manner. Indeed, it has been argued that the nature of workplace relations, as opposed to the simple presence of a learning agreement or learning partnership, is the crucial determinant of ULR activity and impact.38 More specifically, Heyes and Stuart (1996) have suggested that the inclusion of training within the collective bargaining agenda is critical if unions are to improve workplace learning. Building on this, Bacon and Hoque’s (2010) analysis of the 2007 ULR survey found a clear link between ULR impact and the conduct of negotiation and consultation over training. Our analysis provides further strong support for this argument. The most powerful influence on both ULR activity and impact was the conduct of negotiation over learning and training. Where such negotiations took place between ULRs and employers, not only was ULR activity likely to be significantly higher but the impact of that activity

Hollinrake et al., 2008. See also Bacon and Hoque, 2010b. 35 Thomson et al., 2007. 36 Bacon and Hoque, 2010b; Stuart, 2008; Wood and Moore, 2005. 37 See also Bacon and Hoque, 2010b. 38 Stuart, 1996; Wallis and Stuart, 2007. 33

34

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

47


was likely to be greater. In addition, while this effect was strongest in relation to the delivery of learning and training and the improvement of employment relations, it also appeared to enhance the ability of ULRs to extend union organisation. There is now a significant body of research that points to the positive role of ULR activity in improving the provision of workplace learning, organisational performance and employment relations. This report not only highlights the impact of ULRs but also identifies the factors that underpin their effectiveness. These can be mapped across two dimensions. Firstly, ULRs need effective support from their own unions. This is not to say that ULR activity cannot be a channel for extending union presence and influence â&#x20AC;&#x201C; nonetheless, ULRs working within strong and effective union organisations will be better placed to maximise their impact. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the commitment of employers to union learning is essential. To a certain extent this may be reflected in the Skills Pledge or the development of learning agreements and partnerships. However, our analysis suggests that the piecemeal introduction of such institutions in itself is not enough. Instead, if ULRs are to deliver positive outcomes both for their members and their organisations, employer engagement must be reflected within positive workplace relations and a collective bargaining framework that explicitly recognises the centrality of learning and training.

48


References

Bacon, N. and Hoque, K. (2008) Opening Doors to Learning. Union learning representative survey report 2008, London: unionlearn

Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) (2007) World Class Skills: Implementing the Leitch Review of Skills in England, London: HMSO

Bacon, N. and Hoque, K. (2009) The Impact of the Union Learning Representative: A survey of ULRs and their employers, Research Paper 9, April 2009, London: unionlearn

Department for Innovation Universities and Skills (DiUS) (2009) The Learning Revolution, London: The Stationery Office

Bacon, N. and Hoque, K. (2010a) “Exploring the Relationship Between Union Learning Representatives and Employer-Provided Training in Britain”, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 21(5): 720-741. Bacon, N. and Hoque, K. (2010b) “Union Representation and Training; The impact of union learning representatives and the factors influencing their effectiveness”, Human Relations published online 2 November, 2010, DOI: 10.1177/00187267103788055 http://hum.sagepub.com/content/ early/2010/11/01/0018726710378055 Cassell, C. and Lee, B. (2009) “Trade Union Representatives: Progressing partnership?” Work, Employment and Society, 23(2)213-230. Clough, B (2007) From Voluntarism to PostVoluntarism – The emerging role of unions in the vocational education and training system, unionlearn Research Paper 5, June 2007, London: unionlearn. Clough, B. (2010) The Origins, Role and Impact of Union Learning Representatives in the UK and Other Countries, Working Paper No. 1, London: unionlearn Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) (2009) Skills for Growth, The National Skills Strategy: Analytical paper, London: BIS Department for Education and Employment (1998) The Learning Age; A renaissance for a new Britain, London: DfEE

Heyes, J. and Stuart, M. (1998) “Bargaining for Skills: Trade unions and training at the workplace”, British Journal of Industrial Relations, 36(3): 459-467 Hollinrake, A. (2006) Union Learning Representative Research Report, London: unionlearn Hollinrake, A, Antcliff, V and Saundry R. (2008) “Explaining Activity and Exploring Experience – findings from a survey of union learning representatives”, Industrial Relations Journal, 39(5): 392-410 Hoque, K. and Bacon, N. (2006) Trade Union Recognition, Union Learning Representatives and Training Incidence in Britain, paper presented at the British Universities Industrial Relations Association (BUIRA) 56th Annual Conference, University of Galway, 28-30th June Hoque, K. and Bacon, N. (2008) “Trade Unions, UnionLearning Representatives and EmployerProvided Training in Great Britain”, British Journal of Industrial Relations, 46(4):702-731 Leitch, S. (2006) Prosperity for all in the Global Economy – World class skills, London: HMSO Moore, S. and Wood, H. (March 2007) Union Learning, Union Recruitment and Organising, London: unionlearn Lloyd, C. and Payne, J. (2006) “British Trade Unions and the Learning and Skills Agenda: An assessment”, SKOPE Issues Paper 12, Oxford and Cardiff Universities

Department for education and skills (2003) Skills for Success, What the skills strategy means for business, London: Department for education and skills

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49


McIlroy, J. (2008) “Ten Years of New Labour: Workplace learning, social partnership and union revitalization in Britain”, British Journal of Industrial Relations, 46(2):283-313 Munro A. and Rainbird, H. (2004a) “Opening Doors as Well as Banging on Tables: An assessment of Unison/employer partnerships on learning in the public sector”, Industrial Relations Journal, 35(5): 419-433 Munro, A. and Rainbird, H. (2004b) “The Workplace Learning Agenda – New opportunities for trade unions” in G. Healy, E. Heery, P. Taylor and W. Brown (eds) The Future of Worker Representation, pp. 151166, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan Rainbird, H. (2003) “A Further Education”, People Management , 9 (18): 48 Rainbird, H. (2005) “Assessing Partnership Approaches to Lifelong Learning: A new and modern role for the trade unions?”, in M. Stuart and M. Martinez Lucio (eds.) Partnership and Modernisation in Employment Relations, pp.26-62. London: Routledge Saundry, R., Hollinrake, A. and Antcliff, V. (2010) Learning Works, Report of the 2009 survey of union learning representatives and their managers, London: unionlearn Stuart, M. (1996) “The Industrial Relations of Training: A reconsideration of training arrangements”, Industrial Relations Journal, 27(3): 253-265 Stuart, M. and Cooney, R. (2004) “Trade Unions and Training: An introduction”, in Cooney, R. and Stuart, M. (eds.) Trade Unions and Training: Issues and international perspectives, National Key Centre Monograph Stuart, M. (2008) “United Kingdom: The sound of one hand clapping”, in Winterton, J. and Magnuson, L. (eds.) Trade Union Strategies for Competence Development, London: Routledge

Stuart, M. and Robinson, A. (2007) Training, Union Recognition and Collective Bargaining: Findings from the 2004 workplace employment relations survey: An analytical note for the TUC, unionlearn Research Paper No. 4, London: unionlearn Stuart, M. Cook, H. Cutter, J. Winterton, J. (2010) Evaluation of the Union Learning Fund and Unionlearn, Preliminary Findings, Leeds: CERIC Stuart, M. and Rees, J. (2010) Evaluation of Stage 2 of the Collective Learning Fund Project, London: unionlearn Thompson, P. Warhurst, C. And Findlay, P. (2007) Organising to Learn and Learning to Organise, London: unionlearn TUC (2004) The Quiet Revolution: The rise of the union learning representative, London: TUC TUC, Organisation and Services Department (2005) The Union Learning Representative, Challenges and Opportunities, London: TUC Unionlearn with the TUC (2007) Making a Real Difference, Union Learning Reps: A survey, London: unionlearn Unionlearn with the TUC (2010) Learning for Life Annual conference report 2010, London: unionlearn Wallis, E., Stuart, M., and Greenwood, I. (2005) “‘Learners of the Workplace Unite!’: An empirical examination of the UK trade union learning representative initiative”, Work, Employment and Society, 19(2): 283-304 Wallis, E. and Stuart, M. (2007) A Collective Learning Culture: A qualitative study of workplace learning agreements, unionlearn Working paper Series, No. 3, June 2007, London: TUC Wood, H. and Moore, S. (2004) The Union Learning Experience: National survey of union officers and ULRs, summary report, London: Working Lives Research Institute York Consulting (2003) Union Learning Rep Survey, London: TUC Learning Services

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Appendix – Indices

ULR Activity Question

Score

Provided information and advice to colleagues on learning opportunities?

1

Helped colleagues to get funding for learning?

1

Arranged (or helped to arrange) courses for colleagues?

1

Recruited (or helped to recruit) new members into the union?

1

Conducted a learning needs assessment?

1

Met and/or networked with ULRs from other workplaces?

1

Over the last 1 month has your activity: Increased a lot

5

Increased a little

4

Remained unchanged

3

Decreased a little

2

Decreased a lot

1

Range of scores 1 = activity has decreased a lot – not taken part in any activities 11 = activity has increased a lot – taken part in all activities mentioned in Q19

Union Learning Representatives – Activity, Impact and Organisation

51


ULR Impact Question

Score

Do you feel that your ULR activity has had any of the following effects? Raised awareness of learning amongst colleagues No 0

Increased interest in union membership Improved relationships between the union and managers Increased the number of colleagues accessing training

Unsure. 1 To some extent 2

Increased the amount of training for individual colleagues

Yes 3

Helped colleagues who had no/little experience of learning

(for each question)

Improved management/union dialogue on learning As a result of your ULR activity in the site(s) that you cover, has the number of your members involved inâ&#x20AC;Ś Training leading to nationally recognised vocational or academic qualifications Apprenticeships Job-related training not leading to formal qualifications

Increased a lot 5 Increased a little 4 Same 3

Training in basic literacy and numeracy skills

Decreased a little 2

Continuing Professional Development

Decreased a lot 1

Personal interest/leisure courses

(for each question)

Range of scores 6 = had none of the effects and number of members involved in each type of training decreased a lot 51= had all the effects and number of members involved in each type of training increased a lot

52


Other research papers in the series All these research papers are free of charge and can be ordered by going to: www.unionlearn.org.uk/policy/learn-1852-f0.cfm

Paper 1

Paper 6

Union Learning, Union Recruitment and Organising By Sian Moore and Hannah Wood Working Lives Research Institute, London Metropolitan University

Estimating the Demand for Union-Led Learning in Scotland By Jeanette Findlay, Patricia Findlay and Chris Warhurst Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Strathclyde

Paper 2

Paper 7

Organising to Learn and Learning to Organise: Three case studies on the effects of union-lead workplace learning By Chris Warhurst, Paul Thompson and Patricia Findlay Scottish Centre for Employment Research, University of Strathclyde

Migrant Workers in the Labour Market: The role of unions in the recognition of skills and qualifications By Miguel Martinez Lucio, Robert Perrett, Jo McBride and Steve Craig University of Manchester Business School and University of Bradford School of Management

Paper 3

Integrating Learning and Organising: Case studies of good practice By Sian Moore Working Lives Research Institute, London Metropolitan University

A Collective Learning Culture: A qualitative study of workplace learning agreements By Emma Wallis and Mark Stuart Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change, University of Leeds Business School

Paper 4 Training, Union Recognition and Collective Bargaining: Findings from the 2004 workplace employment relations survey By Mark Stuart and Andrew Robinson Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change, University of Leeds Business School

Paper 5 From Voluntarism to Post-Voluntarism: The emerging role of unions in the vocational education and training system By Bert Clough Unionlearn

Paper 8

Paper 9 The Impact of the Union Learning Representative: A survey of ULRs and their employers By Nicholas Bacon and Kim Hoque Nottingham University Business School

Paper 10 Learning Representative Initiatives in the UK and New Zealand: A comparative study By Bill Lee and Catherine Cassell University of Sheffield and University of Manchester Business School

Paper 11 Unions and Skills Utilisation By Francis Green Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies, Institute of Education, University of London

Union Learning Representatives â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Activity, Impact and Organisation

53


Published by unionlearn Congress House London WC1B 3LS Tel 020 7079 6920 Fax 020 7079 6921 www.unionlearn.org.uk February 2011 Cover image by Pixel Photography Design by Rumba Printed by Precision Printing Company Ltd

54

Research Paper 12  

Results of the 2009 survey of ULRs and managers Richard Saundry, Alison Hollinrake and Valerie Antcliff, Institute for Research into Organis...

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