The role of unions in achieving a family-friendly workplace

Katherine Ravenswood, Raymond Markey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)


The role of unions in achieving a family-friendly organization can be pivotal through bargaining for family-friendly provisions. This role is determined not only by union monopoly power and the gendered structure of collective voice of the workforce, but also by national trends in the organization of work and the role of trade unions, as well as the relationship between individual unions and organizations. This case study of a New Zealand local government organization particularly focuses on the contrasts in family-friendly provisions of collective agreements negotiated by different unions at the same workplace. Using Gregory and Milner's (2009) framework of 'opportunity structures', the article confirms that unions may have a key role in the provision of family-friendly policy, and provides a contextual picture of the relationships between family-friendly policy and organizational and union characteristics. This article suggests that strengthening the positions of unions and collective bargaining may be an effective route for the instigation of family-friendly policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)486-503
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • collective bargaining
  • family-friendly policy
  • unions
  • work-life balance

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