NERI Seminar Dublin: Whither Industrial Democracy? Irish Trade Unionism and the Cooperative Commonwealth

5 June 2019

Topic:  Whither Industrial Democracy?  Irish Trade Unionism and the Cooperative Commonwealth

Speaker:  Cian McMahon, Postdoctoral research position, Saint Mary's University, Nova Scotia

Date:  5th June, 2019

Time:  Tea and coffee from 15:50.  The seminar will commence ant 16:00

Venue:  Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) offices, 31/32 Parnell Square, Dublin 1, DO1 YR92


The economic and political turmoil of the 1970s and 1980s witnessed an upsurge of interest and activism surrounding experiments in radical workplace democracy. Yet, the movement for workers’ control lost momentum in subsequent decades, following the neoliberal restructuring of global capitalism and general decline of the labour movement. This paper presents research on the rise and fall of such cooperativist initiatives within the Irish trade union movement. In particular, we chart the Irish worker cooperative development experience, which included efforts to democratise production within Irish state-owned enterprises. The parallel evolution of social partnership in the South and the peace process in the North provides an all-island macro-institutional context. Mindful of contemporary economic, social, and environmental challenges, we conclude with a consideration of the present state of affairs and future prospects for a Cooperative Commonwealth.



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Irish Congress of Trade Unions, 31/32 Parnell Square, Dublin 1, DO1 YR92

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