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'How could management let this happen?' Gender, unpaid work and industrial relations in the nonprofit social services sector

Cunningham, Ian and Baines, Donna (2017) 'How could management let this happen?' Gender, unpaid work and industrial relations in the nonprofit social services sector. Economic and Industrial Democracy. pp. 1-33. ISSN 0143-831X (In Press)

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Abstract

This article explores recent strike action in two highly gendered nonprofit social services agencies who had long term union agreements, a history of labour peace (upwards of twenty years) and a reputation for participatory, cooperative IR cultures. Drawing on qualitative interview data collected in case studies in two liberal welfare states namely Scotland and Canada, the article investigates a management shift resulting from government funding restraints (passed on down to the line to agencies, workers and service users), as well as a concomitant shift in industrial relations culture in which management moved away from more cooperative, participatory approaches to more hostile, oppositional approaches. Drawing on the following three components - - the voices of workers in our data, mobilisation theory (Kelly 1998) and feminist political economy - - the article analyses union-management relations in under-funded, contracted-out government services in both countries studied. The objectives of the article are to explore: 1. whether conditions still exist for a progressive culture of management-union relations given widespread restructuring and what that means for this highly gendered sector; 2. moblisation theory and feminist political economy, particularly in relation to gender and the NPSS; 3.whether austerity policies such as government funding cuts are leading to a possible convergence between private and nonprofit approaches to union-management relations.