Skip to Content

Edmund Heery Research Seminar

Civil Society Organisations: A new employment actor in the UK

Topic: Civil Society Organisations: A new employment actor in the UK
Speaker: Edmund Heery, Professor of Employment Relations, Cardiff University
Venue: Executive Boardroom, Unions NSW, Level 3, Trades Hall, 4-10 Goulburn Street (enter via 377 Sussex Street) Sydney
When: 27th November, 2014, (Thursday)
Time: 3:00pm - 4:00pm


A key event in the British employment year is the publication of the Workplace Equality Index each January, a ranking of the top 100 'gay-friendly' employers by Stonewall, the UK's main campaigning organization for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Stonewall also runs a membership scheme for employers, Diversity Champions, through which it promotes good practice in the management of LGBT employees, and operates an advisory service for global employers who may deploy gay staff to countries with hostile legal regimes. In similar vein, a key issue on the British employment scene is the Living Wage, a wage calculated to provide a minimum, decent standard of living to workers who receive it. This issue has become prominent in recent years as a result of campaigning by the community network, Citizens UK. The latter's sister organization, the Living Wage Foundation operates a procedure through which more than 900 employing organizations have been accredited as Living Wage Employers. These two examples point to an important development in British employment relations. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), like Stonewall and Citizens UK, are playing an increasingly prominent role; acting as representatives of particular constituents within the working population, directly seeking to shape the practices of employers and campaigning for new law and changes in public policy. They have become significant employment actors. In this paper, original research is used to identify the different ways in which CSOs seek to shape the world of work and the reasons why they have become more employment-focused in recent years. It also reflects on their significance, by identifying the kinds of effects they generate within the employment system and the implications of their role for other, more established employment institutions.


Edmund Heery is Professor of Employment Relations at Cardiff Business School and an expert in UK Industrial Relations, best known for his work on trade unions. He has led projects on union organizing, union responses to contingent work, the changing role of the TUC, the involvement of unions in Amnesty International, and union policy on equal pay and work-life integration. More recently, Edmund has been involved in research on the role of civil society organizations in representing working people and has begun work on new forms of collective action by employers, looking in particular at Employer Forums that promote employer engagement with questions of equality and diversity at work.

Edmund has been an advisor to the UK's central trade union organization, the Trades Union Congress and has provided numerous reports and given numerous presentations to UK trade union audiences. He has also undertaken research work for Amnesty International UK, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, and the Welsh Government. He serves on several editorial boards, including those of the British Journal of Industrial Relations, Journal of Industrial Relations, Labor Studies Journal, Economic and Labour Relations Review, and Work and Occupations. Among Edmund's publications are Union Voices: Tactics and Tensions in UK Organizing (Cornell University Press, 2013) (with Mel Simms and Jane Holgate), Reassessing the Employment Relationship (Palgrave MacMillan, 2011) (with Paul Blyton and Peter Turnbull), and Perspectives on Work: Unitary, Pluralist and Critical Analysis in the 21st Century (forthcoming with Oxford University Press).