Silent voices: Representation at the Eurotunnel call centre

Paul J. Gollan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - This research aims to examine non-union and union representative arrangements at the Eurotunnel call centre and assesses their effectiveness in representing the needs of employees. Design/methodology/approach - The research examines these issues over a five-year period using a series of employee surveys, interviews and focus groups. This period has also allowed a review of consultation arrangements before and after union recognition and an examination of the outcomes from such arrangements. Findings - The evidence suggests that the non-union voice structures at Eurotunnel are used as devices for information and communications rather than true consultation mechanisms or bargaining agents. However, the challenge for the trade union at the Eurotunnel call centre is that what can be regarded as a success in some aspects (increased trade union membership and presence) has not resulted in a change in attitudes towards unions by a majority of Eurotunnel employees. This could be seen as one of the major challenges for union-employer partnership arrangements. Research limitations/implications - Generalising the findings of this case to other call centres in non-union workplaces and firms can be problematic, given the unique ownership and structure of Eurotunnel. Practical implications - These results would suggest that, while trade unions may provide greater voice than non-union arrangements, the strength of voice is dependent on the legitimacy and effectiveness of trade unions in representing employees' interests at the workplace. Potentially it could have far-reaching implications for employers, unions and government policy regarding the structures needed for providing effective consultation and representative structures. Originality/value - Uniquely, it highlights the potential limitations and dangers for employers and unions in not addressing the needs and expectations of workers in any workplace.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-450
Number of pages28
JournalPersonnel Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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