Trade union responses to ageing workforces in the UK and Germany

Matthew Flynn, Martin Upchurch, Michael Muller-Camen, Heike Schroder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Ageing workforces are placing conflicting pressures on European trade unions in order to, on the one hand, protect pensions and early retirement routes, and, on the other, promote human resource management (HRM) policies geared towards enabling their older members to extend working life. Using interviews from German and United Kingdom (UK) trade unions, we discuss how unions are both constrained and enabled by pre-existing institutional structures in advocating approaches to age management. In Germany, some unions use their strong institutional role to affect public policy and industrial change at national and sectoral levels. UK unions have taken a more defensive approach, focused on protecting pension rights. The contrasting varieties of capitalism, welfare systems and trade unions’ own orientations are creating different pressures and
mechanisms to which unions need to respond. While the German inclusive system is providing unions with mechanisms for negotiating collectively at the national level, UK unions’ activism remains localized.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45–64
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • age management
  • institutional theory
  • older workers
  • trade unions
  • Germany
  • UK


Dive into the research topics of 'Trade union responses to ageing workforces in the UK and Germany'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this