BUIRA 2017: The Changing Face of Industrial Relations: New Borders, New Frontiers

University of Portsmouth

Click here to download the programme.

The University of Portsmouth was delighted to host the 67th BUIRA annual conference. Although the weather was rather disappointing, especially for colleagues who may have wanted to explore the nearby seafront attractions, the highly stimulating conference sessions, and the evening social events, made BUIRA 2017 a particularly memorable event.


The varied contributions highlighted the relevance and vitality of employment relations as a field of study. We had 55 paper presentations over three days. The two special symposia – one on Kelly’s Rethinking Industrial Relations, another on alternatives to state socialism – were particularly successful features of the conference. Other notable highlights were the two plenary sessions. Charles Woolfson (Linköping), Ben Willmott (CIPD) and Hannah Reed (TUC) offered highly informative and insightful perspectives on the implications of ‘Brexit’ for employment relations, prompting some lively discussion. The second plenary, on employment relations in the ‘gig’ economy, featured stimulating and enlightening contributions from Alex Wood (Oxford), Uma Rani (ILO), Jeremias Prassl (Oxford) and Mags Dewhurst (IWGB). BUIRA 2017 also featured a session for doctoral students, on getting published and getting a job in academia, convened by Melanie Simms, Ed Heery and Linda Clarke. The exhibition devoted to the oral history of construction workers in the 1950s and 1960s, supplied by Linda Clarke and Joern Janssen, was most informative.


Unfortunately, poor weather meant that the Wednesday evening barbecue was restricted to indoors, but it did mean that the Rees Hall bar was near at hand. For the drinks reception and conference dinner on the Thursday we were delighted to have use of Boathouse 4, part of the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard; with excellent service and high quality food in a venue which not only provided a wonderful prospect of Portsmouth Harbour, but also internal views over the boatbuilding skills training centre, it provided a real sense of being in Portsmouth which we’re sure delegates will remember.