Reforming Trade-Union Governance: The Reorganization of the National Union of Public Employees – Historical Studies in Industrial Relations – article

Reforming Trade-Union Governance: The Reorganization of the National Union of Public Employees

R. H. (Bob) Fryer | Historical Studies in Industrial Relations

2019-10-22

In January 1975, the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) held a special national conference to discuss proposals from the national executive council (NEC) to reform the union’s long-standing mode of operation, organization, and government. The preceding years had seen NUPE members in the forefront of industrial action across the public sector, which was facing financial pressures and being radically restructured. New payment and management systems were being introduced. In a significant departure, NUPE had recently established union stewards. Bob Fryer and a team at Warwick University were commissioned to make recommendations to restructure the union. Their report proposed the devolution of authority and power, the strengthening of local organization and representation (in particular by strengthening the role of union stewards), increased women’s representation throughout the union (in particular ‘reserved seats’ for women on the NEC and divisional councils), and increased accountability for both elected lay officers and paid full-time officials. The report was accepted and NUPE began a radical new phase.

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