Blowing the Whistle to the Union: How Successful is it?

Wim Vandekerckhove, Cathy James


This paper analyses data from the Public Concern at Work advice line in the UK, to find out to what extent trade unions are recipients of whistleblower concerns, and whether raising a concern with a trade union is successful. We consider that successful whistleblowing involves both where it has been safe for the whistleblower and effective in stopping wrongdoing. Our findings show that trade unions are not the first choice recipient for workers who want to raise a concern about wrongdoing. Workers tend to raise a concern with other recipients first, if they raise their concern at all with a union. Our findings suggest that it is safer for a whistleblower to raise a concern with a union than it is with other recipients. However, our findings also suggest that raising a concern with a union is less effective in stopping wrongdoing than using other external or internal recipients.

Keywords: internal whistleblowing, external whistleblowing, effective whistleblowing, whistleblower protection, successful whistleblowing, union.

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