Mobilizing solidarity in factory occupations: activist responses to multinational plant closures

Gibbs, E. and Kerr, E. (2022) Mobilizing solidarity in factory occupations: activist responses to multinational plant closures. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 43(2), pp. 612-633. (doi: 10.1177/0143831X20931928)

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Factory occupations are rare and sporadic events which shed light on the processes associated with the collective mobilization of workers’ power. This article utilizes Kelly’s agential and Atzeni’s structural explanations of worker mobilization to examine two disputes which took place during Britain’s long experience of deindustrialization: the occupations of Caterpillar’s tractor factory in Uddingston, Scotland, during 1987 and Vestas’ wind turbine plant on the Isle of Wight during 2009. Each occupation shared the context of multinational divestment and collective workforce grievance based on a common perception that their plant was economically viable and vital to the local economy. However, contrasting sources of leadership mobilized this sentiment in each case: union stewards from within Caterpillar, socialist activists from outside at Vestas. The article concludes that an effective explanation of occupations must synthesize structural and agential factors, emphasizing the coalescing role of activist networks and workers’ perceptions of their labour’s social utility.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Deindustrialization, industrial democracy, mobilization, solidarity, trade unions.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gibbs, Dr Ewan
Authors: Gibbs, E., and Kerr, E.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Economic and Social History
Journal Name:Economic and Industrial Democracy
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1461-7099
Published Online:17 June 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Economic and Industrial Democracy 43(2): 612-633
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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