Trade unions as employment facilitators for disabled employees

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Can trade unions be effective representatives of disabled employees? The paper presents a qualitative case study of views and experiences of a range of trade union stakeholders related to a novel UK Union Learning Fund (ULF) project designed to represent neurological impaired employees employed in the UK rail/transport industry. The case study is the UK's Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) Neurodiversity project that began in 2012. The findings are based on analysis of focus groups with TSSA members, interviews with neurologically impaired employees, Neurodiversity Champions and TSSA organisers. The findings suggest the Neurodiversity project attracted positive sentiments from TSSA members and neurologically impaired employees, with Neurodiversity Champions and TSSA organisers reporting successes with individual case work and shaping trade union-employer bargaining agendas. Despite examples of resistance from some employers, an increased number of employers took active steps as the project progressed to support neurologically impaired employees, and incorporate neurodiversity practices into organisational strategy. The study makes a unique contribution to wider debates, showing how trade unions can be effective representatives of disabled employees.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1642-1661
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number14
Early online date29 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Trade union
  • TSSA
  • Neurodiversity
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Asperger syndrome


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