News Room

BUIRA Conference Plenary Announcement

We are very pleased to announce that 'BUIRA Conference 2021: The past, present and future of industrial relations and the politics of work' will feature plenary contributions from: 

Judy Wajcman

Anne McBride

Sian Moore

Kirsty Newsome

Jean Jenkins

The conference will also feature an 'Early Career Researcher Plenary Pannel' and a 'Work in the Real World' a Special Session with Ian Allinson (President of the Manchester TUC) and others.

Call for Abstracts 

Due to Covid, the 2021 conference will be a virtual online event, but with potential for some hybrid participation at Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, if public health allows. A decision regarding on campus activities will be communicated no later than 30 April 2021. Information about plenary speakers and non-paper sessions will be provided once confirmed. 

The 2021 conference will be FREE to BUIRA members. Non-members will only need to pay the £40 BUIRA (£20 for PhD students and associate members) membership fee.

Call for papers 

BUIRA turning 70 last year presents a good opportunity to reflect on the past, present and future of industrial relations. This was the topic of the postponed 2020 conference, and, if anything, is more salient than ever. Despite facing recent challenges, the field of industrial relations continues to be a vital topic of academic and practitioner enquiry. Issues that have long been central within the study of industrial relations, such as pay, collective bargaining, rights at work, employee representation, national and transnational forms of regulation, health and safety, job (in)security, precarity, equality and diversity, and workplace conflict are highly prominent within many current political and academic debates. Understanding the politics of work, grounded in a critical social science tradition, is crucial for academics and policy makers alike.  

Where are we now? How have we got here, and what should the future of the field look like? Reflecting on historical developments in industrial relations is crucial in order to ground and contextualise current developments in the world of work. History matters in helping us to understand the changing nature of industrial relations, and yet is often overlooked in modern accounts of work relations. It is also important to reflect on pressing current issues. Most notably, what has/will continue to be the implications of Coronavirus for employment relations and the future of work? This was the subject of the BUIRA Special Seminar on November 4th 2020, and an ongoing research issue for BUIRA members. What about the continuing impact of austerity and the 2008 financial crisis in a more financialised world, increasing inequality, as well as economic and social challenges caused by the Covid pandemic and Brexit? What have been the consequences for public sector industrial relations? What is the impact of patterns of precarious work and non-standard employment relationships on the changing nature of work and employment, skills and the quality of work? Across all of these questions, issues of social class, equality and diversity remain more relevant than ever before. Looking to the future, one key question concerns the extent to which unions can play an active role with social movements to tackle climate breakdown. How is power deployed and distributed at work? How much voice and influence do employees have? Whither economic and industrial democracy at work?

We welcome empirical (both quantitative and qualitative), analytical, conceptual and methodological papers that concern any area of industrial relations, or fields cognate to industrial relations. We would particularly appreciate submissions from early career researchers and doctoral students. Papers concerning topics under the following headings will be particularly welcome:


Abstracts of papers should be submitted here

Abstracts should be a maximum of up to 4000 characters including spaces in length (around 500 words) and cover the following headings:

11th January 2021