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Alternative trade union organizing of migrant workers in Northern Ireland in the wake of the Good Friday agreement

Stewart, Paul and Garvey, Brian and McKearney, Tommy (2013) Alternative trade union organizing of migrant workers in Northern Ireland in the wake of the Good Friday agreement. Warsaw Forum of Economic Sociology, 4 (1). pp. 91-108.

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Abstract

The paper deals with an organised labour response to recent migration to Northern Ireland from the New Member States (NMS) following EU enlargement in 2004. A trade union’s approach to the problems confronting migrant workers is analyzed in the context of neo-liberal reforms of the labour market and shrinking of the welfare state. These changes have taken place in the context of a specific region still struggling to overcome the legacy of a long-lasting conflict from the 1960s until 1998 Good Friday Agreement. Furthermore, an innovative approach to migrant workers organising combining elements of solidarity and membership mobilisation and aiming at promoting a political and class solidaristic cross-sectarian agenda developed by the Independent Workers’ Union (IWU) is examined. e results are based on a research programme undertaken by the IWU to uncover the nature of the relationship between migrants, labour market changes and the trajectory of sectarianism in the north.