The State, Industrial Relations and the Labour Movement in Latin America: Volume 1

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The question might arise on how ICT will help trade unions to reverse the decline of union membership. Furthermore, Freeman [60] points out that ICT such as the use of the Internet and website can help trade unions to revitalise union membership and union influence as it is cheaper. Some researchers argue that the use of new online technology can be an important tool for unions [61] and are confident with communication online benefits [20], while some have regarded the possibilities of digital media as a weapon that changes the conditions of the trade unions; for example, information on the Internet and social media is limited [5].

Masters [61] states that there had been a disagreement between the researchers and observers on the benefits of ITC to organise unions. It has been shown that the development of information technology among unions is very slow and their interest in membership is limited [63,64].

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The internal communications email, intranet and external communication websites and emails allow unions to exchange information easily and timorously, unlike the traditional way of communication that focuses more on the chat rooms and discussion boards [50]. The number of union websites in Europe includes the United Kingdom with , France with and Germany with The use of union website has risen rapidly, particularly in developing countries as unions have gone online.

Global Union Federations, as well as the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, consider the Internet an important weapon for their union activities [60]. Previous studies have examined the impact of ICT on trade union communication, more especially on the websites and emails and evaluated the extent to which the transformation of unions has been taking place. Fiorito [65] have explored the performance outcome of a trade union by using of ICT as the tool. Their findings were found positive for union organising measures change in trade union membership , while the characteristics of trade union and environmental variables were considered strongly related to the use of ICT.

In the study of Greer [66] on the analysis of union websites in the United States, the focuses on the information provision rather than opportunities for engagement. The increase of leadership, the use of ICT and the improvement of communication are regarded as important trends for the trade unions. According to Bryson et al.

Many employees often use social media and their networking features for the purpose of voicing concerns about work-related issues and connecting with their colleagues. In fact, Masters et al. White [69,70] states that union campaigns as well as social engagement serve as guidelines that highlight the importance of union awareness, informed channel selection, consistency and monitoring.

However, it is not yet known which of the trade unions are more likely to prioritise social media [71]. The question can arise, will unions move towards professional networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter, upload photo and video sites to retain communication among them? The potential of ICT to improve trade union communications has been of global interest for the past years.

Lee [5] states that the development of the Internet highlights positive views on how online communications can become a force of change for trade unions; however, Chaison [72] has criticised the use of the Internet as not beneficial and it might become destruction to some of the members.

ICT has opened new opportunities for trade unions, but on the other hand, it is seen as threats to its members [71]. Trade union membership ascended in the s and s and benefited from having contemporaneous forms of common experience [67]. Gerbaudo [73] said that some tools are associated with the protest action in Egyptian revolution of such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Thus, what is preventing modern trade unions from attracting millions of members with Facebook? The usage of mobile phones in Nigerian trade unions has shown growth. The use of mobile phone increases the ability for an adult to send and receive text messages for participation in union activities.

Additionally, the trade union leaders and members believe that the SMS usage is effective and empowering [75].

Content Metrics

Nwagbara et al. Egyptian trade unions gain information, updates on the latest news and interact with others by using Facebook and Twitter [77].

Content Metrics

Baglione [35] said that Egypt played a significant role in influencing Algerian unions to use Facebook, but many unions did not use it. The Internet penetration of Angola in was 21 percent. The access to amobile phone in Angola has increased from 62 percent in to 63 percent in [78].


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However, some of its trade unions still lag behind and do not use Twitter and Facebook effectively. The new ICT became an important source for communication that can transfer information email and website and allow the users to interact using Web 2. Web 2. According to [13], there are limited studies based on the potential of new ICT and Web 2.

However, almost all unions have a website and only few trade unions allow the two-way communication opportunity such as online interaction [19]. Masters et al. Secondly, unions should be able to identify their members who are high-intensity users of IT. Thirdly, unions must be aware that their membership falls into two broad categories: networked and nonnetworked. Lastly, union members must ensure that there is strong communication among them. Therefore, the ICTs are a significant contribution of union revitalisation especially in the Anglo-Saxon countries because it has an impact on both internal and external communication [50].

Trade unions see the use of the IT as one of their strategies [81] and it provides information via emails and websites for its members and the public [20]. Trade union revitalisation is very difficult,it is a slow process for the union and it involves internal change [58]. The roles of unions should be re-negotiated. Cockfield [81] points out that the potential use of ICTs are shaped by how unions deal with the internal political processes; however, it does not mean ICTs will not have a positive impact on union revitalisation. The ICTs contribution to trade union revitalisation should not be dismissed.

Based on the strategic choice perspective [83], trade unions need to implement a particular strategy for the purpose of its revitalisation [24]. Concerning the challenges that trade unions are facing, they may adopt some combination of strategies. When implementing these strategies, trade unions are trying to shift their focus from the traditional way to the new way of using IT []. The following strategies for the use of websites by unions are identified in the work of Bibby [84] in Figure 1.

Bibby [84] explains that potential members can be reached through trade union websites. On the website are forms the members can complete and are able to pay their first membership subscription via the mechanism of the website [84]. As White [88] states, union membership among young people is low and young individuals use media through multiple channels. He further mentions that unions that want to recruit young people to the unions need to invest in relevant and modern creative graphic design and adapt to it [88]. Communication is one of the main roles for trade union websites to communicate with their union members.

Lawrence [89] emphasise that the interaction of trade union members either on websites or between themselves is essential for the union website. The more trade unions members interact with each other, the better the sense of togetherness. Moreover, for the trade unions to loginto the website, their name and password registration will be required to enter and enjoy the services offered such as online training, discussion forums, internal union information and so forth [89].

The potential of electronic communications is an important tool during the industrial disputes and it was highlighted at an early stage of the development of the Internet [84].


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This is done by emailing their members or presenting the union case on the public over the Internet. The website allows unions to access it at low cost as well as informing members or public about the bargaining issues [53]. According to Bibby [84], trade unions were offering traditional training as well as learning opportunities to their members.

However, trade unions are exploring the potential of using the website content for online learning that includes the training material found over the Internet. In the past, many trade unions played an important role to ensure that their union members found work. The craft-based union used the traditional method and discovered the potential of the Internet use.

Interuniversity Research Centre on Globalization and Work (CRIMT)

Vacancies are advertisedonline and members have to complete the registration form and upload their CV online. It is encouraged that union members who are leaving their employment should maintain loyalty to their unions [84]. International unionism and liberalisation have led to the increased mobility of capital. The introduction of IT and knowledge process outsourcing KPO has resulted in leveraging low cost of labour particularly on emerging economies and developing countries [90]. Watermen link the new labour internationalism to ICT and he asks the question if the labour communication using computer will bring on a fifth international.

Leischa [91] mentions cyber union website as the potential of the ICTs to revitalise trade unions and to allow unions to communicate with each other directly. The ICTs or cyber unions are seen as the use of new spaces rather been seen as putting it in space as a tool for revitalisation.

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Pantland [43]; Leischa [91] identify two strategies for union revitalisation using ICT, namely top-down strategies and bottom-up strategies. Trade unions have a history towards technological change as change damaging them. Technology played a major role in causing trade union crisis and complicated the attitude of unions in using technologies as part of organising. Trade unions have a historyof technological development [93], with regard to the need to improve productivity, cutting costs and increasing profits; however, unions have long recognised the potential of offering work to its members [94].

Since industrial revolution began, people have lost their jobs; deskilling and flexibility increased due to new technology.

Pantland [43] emphasises that the most common response of trade unions to the use of ICT is the Web 2. Furthermore, trade unions who embraced these technologies appeared to use them without any clear understanding or strategy. Darlington [96] said that trade unions have to adapt to the new technology for their survival and ignoring the potential of ICT is not an option.


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  5. Union leaders are aware that the potential of ICT will provide the renewal with the movement and attract new members; however, they are worried that this new technology will undermine their powers [57]. According to Pantland [43], the top-down strategies have created the online joining facilities that will allow people to join online rather than downloading the forms.