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Front line or all fronts? Women's trade union activism in retail services

Conley, Hazel


Hazel Conley
Professor in Human Resource Management


This article draws on data from a case study of a trade union campaign to organize part-time women workers in a large supermarket chain. The data indicate that combining paid work, work in the home and increased trade union participation means that the work of women activists and the resistance they encounter in its execution is broader than the customer/ employee interface, or 'front line', that is the current focus in literature on service-sector work and trade unionism. The findings are used to argue that established feminist literature, in which the location and recipients of women's work are conceptualized as multiple and shifting but inter-related, still provide a useful analytical framework for service-sector work. Therefore an 'all fronts' approach may better describe the lives of part-time women workers and trade unionists in the sector. However it is argued that, far from simply being considered as an added burden, trade union activism was a powerful catalyst for change in the home and work lives of the working-class women in the study. © Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2005.


Conley, H. (2005). Front line or all fronts? Women's trade union activism in retail services. Gender, Work and Organization, 12(5), 479-496.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 1, 2005
Journal Gender, Work and Organization
Print ISSN 0968-6673
Electronic ISSN 1468-0432
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 5
Pages 479-496
Keywords trade-union organization, part-time work, front line
Public URL
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