Date(s) - 6 Jun
4:30 pm - 7:00 pm


Tuesday 6 June 2023


4.30pm for 4.50-7.00pm (Tea/coffee from 4.30pm)


Room L195, University of Westminster Business School, 35 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5LS (opposite Madame Tussauds and nearly opposite Baker Street tube)



For two countries that sit side by side, the industrial relations systems of France and UK, and in particular the role of unions, appear remarkably different. Or are they? Odile Join-Lambert and Cécile Guillaume have researched and are familiar with both systems and, through the examples they present, throw important light on this question.


To reserve a place, please use this link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/buira-history-of-industrial-relations-study-group-tickets-558825591387


For further information, email Michael Gold (m.gold@rhul.ac.uk) or Linda Clarke (clarkel@wmin.ac.uk).




4.30-4.50pm: Tea/ coffee/ refreshments


4.50-5.00: Welcome: Michael Gold and Linda Clarke (Chairs)


5.00-5.25: Odile Join-Lambert


Trade Unions Facing Transformations of the Public Sector: The Case of the French Post Office (1931 to the Present)

In order to understand the transformation of industrial relations in the public sector, it is important to take into account the public or private trajectories of companies. This presentation hypothesises an alignment of industrial relations in the public sector with the model of collective relations in the private sector through the history of social and cultural activities, co-managed within the French Post Office by the trade unions and associations. By looking at the history of the management, consultation and financing of social and cultural activities (housing, catering, holiday camps, day-care centres, mutual aid and loans, financial aid, sports and cultural associations), the presentation aims to examine the existence of a social model specific to the French Post Office compared with French electricity and rail companies. Despite changes in its administrative structures, the French Post Office demonstrates continuity in the way it managed social activities until 2017, when it became a social and economic committee (CSE), with important consequences not only for the social protection of postal workers but also more generally for trade unionism. Comparisons with the UK will be made as appropriate.


5.25-5.50: Cécile Guillaume


Mobilizing Employment Discrimination Law: Comparing Litigation Strategies of British and French Trade Unions

Based on cross-national comparative research conducted in France and the UK, the presentation explores to what extent and under what conditions unions situated in different legal systems have turned to the courts to challenge discrimination at work. It investigates the interplay between a broad range of structural factors that offer specific opportunities, and the way unionists interpret contexts to promote legal mobilisation in addition to or in place of other repertoires of action. In so doing, it contributes to the understanding of the enforcement of employment discrimination law and the role of micro-level actors in enabling litigation strategies.


6.00-6.30pm: General discussion


6.30pm: Close (followed by drinks until 7.00pm)



The speakers:


Cécile Guillaume is Reader in Work, Employment and Organisations at Surrey Business School. One strand of her research focuses on gender equality in the trade union context. Her recent publications include: Organizing Women. A Study of Gender Equality Policies in French and British Trade Unions (Bristol University Press, 2022); ‘Mobilizing Employment Discrimination Law. The Litigation Strategies of British and French Trade Unions Compared’, Journal of Law and Society, Summer 2022 (with VA Chappe) and ‘Women’s Participation in a Radical Trade Union Movement that Claims to be Feminist’, British Journal of Industrial Relations, 56(3): 556-578.


Odile Join-Lambert is a Professor of History and Sociology at the University of Versailles-Saint-Quentin en Yvelines. She is the author of works on the social history of intermediate civil servants in France and on the history of the Ministry of Labour. Her recent publications include: Travailler au musée. Publics, gardiens et conservateurs du Louvre et du British Museum: regards croisés (1946-1981), Villeneuve d’Ascq, Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 2019; and ‘Politique d’emploi et transferts sociaux: les activités sociales des PTT (1931-1991)’, Entreprises et histoire, n° 105, 4, 2021 (with Romain Trichereau).