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Multi-unionism cannot be defined precisely because descriptions of union structure are dependent upon the structure of collective bargaining.
Multi-unionism resulted in because individual unions evolved with no central body taking responsibility for their evolution, and because no theory of design played any significant part in their development.
In particular, this paper examines the issue of inter-union collaboration, an area largely under-studied because of a general belief that multi-unionism is necessarily associated with chaos and conflict rather than cooperation.
Better yet, a comparative study across different nations with such representation would help identify what is typical and what is not in New Zealand's experience of multi-unionism.
Contrary to the belief that multi-unionism prompts competition and chaos, the unions in this sample were generally respectful of each other's territory and expertise and comfortable to organise only in areas that made the most sense, in terms of both effective representation for the workers and cost-effectiveness for the unions.
This provided much valuable statistical information not just on the provision of industrial relations training, but on, for example, the numbers of shop stewards, and on the extent of multi-unionism, which the CIR subsequently published separately as CIR Study No.
Among the main findings was that the total number of shop stewards was considerably in excess of previous estimates of 175,000-200,000 and that the degree of multi-unionism was less than commonly supposed.
We are able, however, to illuminate some controversial issues--among them, the impact of both bargaining group size and workplace size on strike incidence, the part (if any) played by multi-unionism in boosting strikes, and the extent to which the same bargaining groups strike from year to year.
There is a very strong association between multiple bargaining units and multi-unionism in our data.
The likelihood of a strike for a particular bargaining group is higher with multi-unionism in the workplace than with single unionism.
It is possible, therefore, that what passed in Prais's work for a plant size effect is, in fact, a multi-unionism effect: a larger workplace is more at risk of a strike simply because it has more bargaining units.
Finally, by initiating, or agreeing to, a compulsory unionism arrangement with a moderate union, employers minimise the consequences of multi-unionism, and also avoid having to deal with a more militant rival (Hanson, Jackson and Miller, 1982: 13; Geare, 1989: 233; Gill and Zappala, 1990: 3).
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