Trade Unions and the 2016 UK European Union Referendum

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This article reports on pre and post interviews with trade union leaders and senior Trades Union Congress (TUC) and union officials who held campaign responsibilities for the 2016 UK European Union (EU) Referendum. The article considers the development of union policy towards the EU, the determination of unions’ final positions, campaign resources and media, the arguments made and the drivers of and constraints upon active campaigning. Campaign intensity, resourcing and strategic decision-making varied widely across unions and was frustrated by resource constraints, fear of alienating members and in some cases lack of priority. The article concludes that unions must be better prepared to commit material resources and national officers’ time so that campaign issues are effectively framed in terms of member concerns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-409
JournalEconomic and Industrial Democracy
Issue number1
Early online date27 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


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