Portsmouth Employment Relations Network (PERN)

Employment Relations Research Cluster – the Portsmouth Employment Relations Network (PERN)

Welcome to the website of the Portsmouth Employment Relations Network (PERN). Based at the University of Portsmouth Business School, the main purpose of PERN is to stimulate teaching, research and scholarship in the field of employment relations. Members of PERN are engaged in research in a number of areas, including: the employment relations policies of the coalition government; public sector employment relations; trade union renewal; labour law; devolution and employment relations in the UK; offshoring and human resource management; and civil regulation and employment relations.

If you would like to become involved in PERN, find out more about it, or even make a contribution in some way, then please contact Steve Williams (Stephen.Williams@port.ac.uk)

Conference – the UK Coalition Government and Employment Relations

On 16th December 2013 PERN hosted its first conference, a one-day symposium devoted to the topic of The Coalition Government and Employment Relations, in association with the British Universities’ Industrial Relations Association Public Sector Study Group. The event took place at the University of Portsmouth Business School.

The morning keynote talk was given by David Renton, a barrister with Garden Court Chambers and the author of Struck Out, a book which catalogues the failure of employment tribunals to give workers effective justice. He also writes a lively and informative blog on employment law which carries the same title. David offered a specialist employment lawyers’ critique of some key coalition law reforms, such as the introduction of ‘compromise agreements’.

In the afternoon, the 2nd keynote talk was given by Sarah Veale, who is Head of Equality and Employment Rights at the Trades Union Congress (TUC). Sarah looked at the effectiveness and implications of the coalition’s employment law reforms, and highlighted both the TUC’s contribution to the policy-making process and its perspective on the changes.

In addition to these keynote talks, delegates were also treated to eight presentations from academics working on various elements of work and employment relations under the coalition government:

  • Enda Hannon (Kingston University):  The coalition government’s economic policy and employment
  • Melanie Simms (University of Leicester):  Skills for sustainable employment: policies to tackle youth unemployment
  • Andy Hodder (University of Birmingham), Sami Benassi (University of Birmingham), Nick McCarthy (PCS), Paul Hawkins (PCS) and Adam Mason (independent researcher): Workin' 9 to 5: union representatives and pressures on facilities time
  • Mick Pender and Steve French (Keele University):  Negotiating modernisation? Workers’ responses to the restructuring of Royal Mail within the context of the Conservative Lib-Dem coalition
  • Paul Latreille (University of Sheffield) and Susan Corby (University of Greenwich):  The Employment Appeal Tribunal: does the presence of lay members affect results?
  • Steve Williams and Peter Scott (University of Portsmouth): The UK government’s Employment Law Review: the dynamics of policy making under coalition
  • Ian Greer, Lisa Schulte and Graham Symon (University of Greenwich):  A moral crusade? The wider implications of welfare-to-work under the Coalition
  • Brian Abbott (Kingston University):  Unmasking the Big Society

Copies of presentation slides from the conference and other material will be posted here soon.

In October 2013 Julie Spurgeon joined Portsmouth Business School as a new research degree student. Her research is concerned with the understanding the management of volunteer labour.

Also in October 2013 Peter Scott and Steve Williams presented a paper on The Coalition Government and Employment Relations: Accelerated Neoliberalism by Stealth to a conference on Le Royaume-Uni á l’heure de la Coalition, Université du Sud Toulon-Var, France.

In November 2013 Kelly Tomlinson of the Unite trade union visited Portsmouth Business School to talk to undergraduate students.

In December 2013 a new book co-authored by Steve Williams – Globalization and Work – was published by Polity: http://www.polity.co.uk/book.asp?ref=9780745652115



PERN Newsletters

PERN publishes a regular newsletter, featuring news of employment relations developments in Portsmouth and beyond. You can read PERN newsletters by clicking on the relevant links below:

DescriptionFile Size
PERN Newsletter 1 (Spring 2010) pdf 90KB
PERN Newsletter 2 (Summer 2010) pdf 95KB
PERN Newsletter 3 Autumn/Winter 2010) pdf 101KB
PERN Newsletter 4 (Spring 2011) pdf 92KB
PERN Newsletter 5 (Summer 2011) pdf 74KB
PERN Newsletter 6 (Winter 2013-14) pdf 204KB
PERN Newsletter 7 (Spring 2014) pdf 206KB
PERN Newsletter 8 (Summer 2014) pdf 253KB

PERN staff

Follow the link provided for each member of staff for more information about their work, and for details of their publications from Parade'

Barry Hough

David Farnham

Iona Byford

Peter Scott

Dr Roger Welch

Rita Fontinha

Steve Williams

Vijay Pereira






PERN research students

Follow the links (where provided) for each student for more information about their project.

Wil Hunt

Patricia Kinsella

Bob Smale

Julie Spurgeon