Unions on the defensive: Conditions for survival and possibilities for renewal in a changing political economy: (The case of automotive unions in the Philippines)

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies

Subject Categories



College of Liberal Arts


Political Science

Thesis Adviser

Eric Vincent C. Batalla

Defense Panel Chair

Julio C. Teehankee

Defense Panel Member

Ma. Divina Gracia Z. Roldan
Francisco A. Magno
Antoinette R. Raquiza
Benjamin T. Tolosa, Jr.


There is vast literature on union decline and emerging literature on union renewal but the phenomenon of union survival remains under-examined. This study looked to literature on organizational theory for how and why organizations survive or adapt to changing environments. It used an integrative theory that rejects the notion that only organization (the voluntaristic orientation) or only environment (the deterministic orientation) determines adaptation and argues that the interplay of both organization and environment shapes adaptation. It also borrowed from the dialectical approach to organizational analysis.

Four trade unions from the automotive industry were studied and compared. The automotive industry was chosen because this is where the traditional base of unions is (still) found and automotive unions are in fact one of the oldest unions in the country. Moreover, the automotive industry is exposed to global competition and hence the global trend of contractualization is highly visible in the said industry.

The four case studies reveal that it is the dynamics of continuous cooperation and conflict that shapes union survival and that there is dialectics in survival/adaptation. Surviving or adapting thus is not simply a matter of adjusting or conforming to a new environment because in adapting, new dynamics emerge, and it is the sequence or continuance of new dynamics that cause unions to survive. Moreover, dialectical relations need to be brought into arenas beyond the enterprise. Industry-wide unionism combined with a welfare-oriented development policy is the best possible combination that can lead to union growth.

Abstract Format






Accession Number


Shelf Location

Archives, The Learning Commons, 12F Henry Sy Sr. Hall


Automobile industry and trade--Labor unions--Philippines; Labor unions--Philippines

This document is currently not available here.