Trade Union Education

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Trade Union Education

Education is regarded as fundamental to the work of trade unions. Myriad forms of education take place as unions work toward achieving their goals of improved political, social and economic outcomes for working people, ranging from professional development for union staff, to workshops for delegates, to informal meetings in workers homes.

While the union movement has the common purpose of empowerment of working people, there are differing views on how this is best achieved, resulting in different motivations and approaches in union education.

Some union education is intended to teach union members the skills and knowledge they need to organise for effective engagement with employers around distributing the benefits of increased production. This education often follows a criteria-based instrumental approach focussing on measurable outcomes.

In contrast is union education centred on a belief that the relationship of workers and management is one of conflict. Education in this framework often follows a radical pedagogy, which encourages critique of political and social structures and involvement in social transformation. This education draw upon the ideas of community and social change educators such as Paulo Freire, Myles Horton and Saul Alinsky, incorporating dialogue, reflection and analysis of participant experience and working towards social change outcomes.

Union Education Resources