Über den Kurs

Welcome to our FREE online course Trade Unions in Transformation!

This is an online course discussing how trade unions are transforming and using their agency and power resources in the changing world of work. It demonstrates how workers and their organisations can mobilise their Power Resources to improve working and living conditions.

This course is developed by an international team of trade unionists, labour researchers, and academics, coordinated by the Global Trade Union programme, the Trade Union Competence Centre (TUCC) at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) in partnership with the Global Labour University.

The course is designed for learning together and for discussing strategies and ideas that identify and use power resources in our trade unions and workers’ organisations. It brings together people from around the world and a variety of experiences in the labour movement.

This course will run in an interactive and participatory phase for three weeks from 31 March to 17 April 2020. Afterwards, the course will be available for groups and individuals to work on their own and at their own pace.

What will I learn?

In this course, you will learn how unions can transform. Transformation refers to fundamental changes in how an organization operates so that it can cope with shifts in its environment. For trade unions, environments have changed dramatically. We have witnessed how financial markets and Transnational Corporations have come to dominate the world’s economy. In their search for profits, the burden is placed on the backs of society, the environment and workers. While the rich get richer, workers are forced into precarious, ultra-flexible and informal work. You will learn how trade unions can use their structural, associational, institutional and societal power to meet new challenges in the world of work such as climate change and digitalisation.

What do I need to know?

The course requires a working level of English. Theoretical concepts are explained in an accessible and well-illustrated way, so it is also possible to participate in the course using skills and knowledge acquired outside formal education. The mix of video lectures, readings, exercises and interaction with other course participants will enable you to engage easily in the debates.

Course workload

The estimated workload is 5-6 hours per week if you read also the key reading for each unit. You can complete this course with the support of an online tutor during the three weeks starting on 31 March 2020. You can also study at your own pace, any time you want.

Certificates and Scholarships

You can enrol and complete this course for FREE and get a Certificate of Participation if you wish so.

You can obtain a Certificate of Participation at any time after completing the course. This means watching all the videos and responding to the quiz questions of each video. The Certificate of Participation costs 29€. If you are from a non-OECD country or a trade unionist from an OECD country, you can apply for a scholarship, by sending an email to Shane.Choshane@fes-southafrica.org indicating your organisation and the country you are from.

How to use the course materials?

You can organise a local workshop on the topics of the course combining the course materials with local experts from trade unions, labour research institutes and universities.

If you work for a university, trade union or any other labour-related institution you are welcome to integrate the course material into your education and training programmes. All video lectures and interviews, readings, online resources, and exercises can be downloaded separately and used for free.

Course Structure

The course consists of three chapters. Each uses examples from case studies to present different aspects of the power resources approach and providing examples of case studies. The chapters are divided into units, each unit has a video lecture, followed by a quiz section and supplemented by additional material and a space for discussions and questions.

Chapter 1: Trade Unions in Transformation: Introducing the Power Resources Approach

This chapter introduces you to our project: “Trade Unions in Transformation.” It is a project about how trade unions can innovate by using their power resources and developing their capabilities. We want to take you on a trip to discover the dimensions of power in the hands of workers and their unions. And show how unions have been able to advance workers interest in contexts of changing economic and political condition. You will learn about what we mean by power resources.

Chapter 2: Explaining the Varieties of Power Resources: Associational, Structural, Institutional and Societal Power

This chapter introduces you to essential varieties of power resources. Associational Power, Structural Power, Institutional Power and Societal Power. Building associational power is the relationship between leadership and participation within unions. Structural Power is about labour market and workplace bargaining power, and power to disrupt. Institutional Power is securing and stabilising influence through institutional set-ups. Finally, Societal Power is the Power beyond the workplace: agenda-setting, alliances, coalitions.

Chapter 3: Power Resources in Practice: Capabilities, Gender and Context

This chapter is about developing capabilities to recognize and use power resources. And it focusses on power resources from a gender perspective and power resources in a global and regional context. New and practical ways for meaningful participation of union members, specific measures for empowering women, attracting new members and increasing international solidarity are explored.

Course team

Dr. Michael Fichter (Senior Lecturer, Global Labour University, Germany)

Mirko Herberg (Coordinator, Global Trade Union Programme, FES, Germany)

Shane Choshane (Project Manager at FES Trade Union Competence Centre, South Africa )

Bastian Schulz ( Director, FES Trade Union Competence Centre, South Africa)

Bruno Dobrusin (Trade Union Activist)

Warren McGregor (GLU-Wits Programme Coordinator)

Dr Melisa Serrano (Professor, School of Labour and Industrial Relations, University of the Philippines)

Marggie Peters (Trade Union Activist)

Jacob Omolo (Senior Lecture, Department of Applied Economics, Kenyatta University, Kenya)

Sarah Hinz (Researcher, Department of Labour, Industrial and Economic Sociology, University of Jena (Germany)

Arbind Singh (Founder of National Association of Street Vendors of India)

Aelim Yun, PhD. (Research Fellow, Centre for Labour & Welfare Law, Seoul National University, South Korea)

Didice Godinho Delgado ( Social Worker and former trade unionist, CUT, Brazil)

Dr. Edlira Xhafa (Coordinator of the Global Labour University Online Academy)

Course instructors (in order of appearance)

Mirko Herberg (Coordinator, Global Trade Union Programme, FES, Germany)

Dr Melisa Serrano (Professor, School of Labour and Industrial Relations, University of the Philippines)

Jacob Omolo (Senior Lecture, Department of Applied Economics, Kenyatta University, Kenya)

Sarah Hinz (Researcher, Department of Labour, Industrial and Economic Sociology, University of Jena (Germany)

Arbind Singh (Founder of National Association of Street Vendors of India)

Aelim Yun, PhD. (Research Fellow, Centre for Labour & Welfare Law, Seoul National University, South Korea)

Marggie Peters (Trade Union Activist)

Didice Godinho Delgado ( Social Worker and former trade unionist, CUT, Brazil)

Warren McGregor (GLU-Wits Programme Coordinator)

Bruno Dobrusin (Trade Union Activist)

Shane Choshane (Online tutor)