Workers' perceptions of industry, and their commitment to their union
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
In the field of industrial sociology, little research has been done which views industry and the organisations associated with it, from the worker's perspective. There is agreement among those associated with the field in this country, that very little is known about the attitudes, perceptions and expectations that the New Zealand industrial worker has of industry, employer and job. It is important that research be done on the worker's views, since this would establish a better basis for our industrial relations policy. The present research was designed as an exploratory study, to examine workers' perceptions of their industry, their relationship with their employer, and their union. Essentially, there were two specific points considered. The first was an examination of the adequacy of Marxian theory as an explanation for the relationship that exists between employer and worker in the New Zealand industrial setting. The second was a preliminary analysis of the validity of a model, which attempts to predict the commitment of workers to their union, on the basis of certain preconditions which are outlined as a series of five stages. The research consisted of interviews with workers sampled from two unions in the Christchurch area. The analysis of the data did not use any sophisticated statistical techniques, since these were not appropriate for a preliminary study, or the size of the sample involved.
The conclusions reached on the first point were, that although these workers do display certain characteristics that would be expected on the basis of a Marxian perspective, they also have other characteristics (notably an awareness of the interdependence of worker and employer), which Marxian theory cannot explain adequately. With regard to the model, the trends that it predicts definitely occur in this data, but the model does not account for all factors affecting the commitment of union members. It needs refinement and further, more rigorous, testing, before any final conclusion can be reached regarding its validity. As is appropriate for an exploratory study, a considerable number of suggestions for further research have been generated.