Elizabeth’s academic background is in political philosophy, as a student at UCL and as a part time lecturer and research assistant, Birkbeck, working for A.C. Grayling and A. Lipow. In the early 1990s she worked as a project coordinator for two global union federations, running trade union education programmes in the Former Soviet Union (Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan). These were part of the EU’s funded work with civil society organisations as part of the ‘democratization’ process post 1989.
In 1999 Elizabeth became the Head of Education and Programmes for the ICEM, a global union federation representing 20 million trade union members in the energy, mining and chemicals sectors, headquartered in Brussels. She has worked in over 30 developing and transition economies carrying out education programmes, human rights campaigns and negotiations with MNCs and IGOs. Some of this work is reflected in her recently co-authored publications, Global Unions Global Business. Areas of expertise include participatory education and campaigning, negotiations and collective bargaining, CSR and regulatory mechanisms, HIV/AIDS and precarious work.
In 2007, Elizabeth returned to live in the UK and took up part time lecturing at Middlesex University and writing with a longstanding colleague, Professor Richard Croucher. She also started the process of training in adult psychoanalytic psychotherapy at the Tavistock Clinic in London.
BA Philosophy, University College London, London University (1991)
MA Philosophy, University College London, London University (Melhuin Scholarship, 1992)
Following the publication of Global Unions Global Business, Elizabeth is currently involved in a number of connected research projects. These currently are:
Precarious Work: Defining the nature and avenues for regulation of precarious work with particular emphasis on case studies and trade union organising activities. Currently developing a paper on recent organizing initiatives of Colombian trade unions with Tony Royle, Galway.
Multilateralism: framing the global unions within an international relations tradition using Ruggie’s concept of multilateralism and related concepts. Currently developing a paper with Rebecca Gumbrell-McCormick, Birkbeck.
Participatory Education & Organising: exploring current trade union education and its roots in participatory education and impact on trade union capacity to organise.
HIV/AIDS & Co-investment: looking at recent developments in HIV/AIDS provision in the extractive industries and development of public private partnerships in developing countries.
Wellbeing & Resilience: connected to building new teaching on wellbeing and resilience, researching two under-articulated but increasingly important workplace concepts. Specific interest in methods for developing skills for public sector and key workers in managing mental health in the workplace and building individual and organisational resilience.
Elizabeth is currently developing postgraduate and CPD teaching on work and wellbeing, with particular focus on skills development for practitioners. This work is being developed with Professor Jeremy Cooper, responsible for the UK’s mental health tribunals, and Sophie Howarth from the Young Foundation and is informed by current mental health theory and therapeutic practice. This is a new and innovative area of teaching for the Business School, to be piloted during the 2010/2011 academic year.
She is an active part of the university’s response to climate change and is a member of two groups set up to green the curriculum and the campus at Hendon. She is also a member of the UCU’s national working group on the environment to look at the future needs of students and universities in relation to the impact of environmental change.
In addition Elizabeth teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate courses on international employment relations and the regulation of work.
Global Unions Global Business (2009), Middlesex University Press. Co-authored with Richard Croucher. This book as been received well by reviewers:
‘A unique contribution....throwing new light both on the international trade union movement and its relations with multinational companies’
Political Sociology, American Sociological Association Summer 2009: 17.
‘A fine book’
Relations Industrielles/Industrial Relations; 64 (4), September 2009
‘Global Unions, Global Business: Global Union Federations and International Business, by Richard Croucher and Elizabeth Cotton, is a standout in the field.....there are noteworthy books in this field that raise important questions. This is among the rare ones that answer them as well.’
British Journal of Industrial Relations Early View online published April 2010. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8543.2009.00777_5x
Global Unions, Global Business is a fine book; it will provide a solid basis for a new wave of theoreticallyinformed yet empirically robust research for transformation in global labour studies.’
Global Labour Journal1(1), 2010: 203-4.
‘Powerfully argued and impressively documented, this stimulating book provides a readable, insightful introduction to the challenges facing global trade unionism. It will prove of tremendous value to both union activists and to academics teaching international business, employment relation and HRM.’
Labour/Le Travail65, 2010: 243-246.
‘For the first time for many years, the attention of those interested in sectoral trade union organization beyond the nation state is drawn to the world level, and from a perspective that avoids as far as possible the ‘Eurocentric’ position....This timely book is aimed at a wide audience....makes a refreshing addition to the literature....excellent discussion of the little known structure and organization of the GUFs.’
Historical Studies in Industrial Relations25/6 : 289-92
‘An excellent overview’
S.Williams, D. Adam-Smith: Contemporary Employment Relations. A Critical Introduction (2ndedition, Oxford University Press, 2010.)
‘It is very rare to find a work with this sort of dual nature, as the authors have been able to create an uncommonly empirically rich and approachable book: as academic experts in industrial relations they can both at the same time use their extensive practical experience of union development and educational work in different countries......Global Unions, Global Business makes available a fund of empirical material from countries that remain terrae incognitae even for experts, in a lively form and integrated into a coherent argument.’
Joint organiser of an ESRC funded seminar series looking at the regulation of work during 2010-2011 focussing on precarious work, migrant labour and the impact of private equity and financialisation on the regulation of the employment relationship. For further information on the series please contact Elizabeth.
Links with partner/business organisations
Links to Global Union Federations, National Trade Unions, International Labour Organisation, INGOs and labour related IGOs.