Exploration roles and responsibilities of trade unions in preventing and responding to emergencies against epidemics: The case of COVID-19

J Emerg Manag. 2023;21(7):203-212. doi: 10.5055/jem.0751.


Background and aim: The coronavirus disease 209 (COVID-19) pandemic has been affecting various strata of society including different guilds. Each of these segments has its role to play in controlling epidemics. Accordingly, this study aimed to explore trade unions' roles and responsibilities in the prevention and emergency response to epidemic, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

Materials and methods: The present qualitative research was conducted using directed content analysis. Participants were selected by a purposeful sampling method. Data were collected through semistructured interviews and field notes and validated through Lincoln and Guba's (1985) evaluative criteria. Data were analyzed by MAXQDA software.

Results: Data analysis, constant comparison, and class integration provided a total of seven main themes, which were extracted into four domains of Plan, Implementation, Review, and Action. The main themes were categorized into the dimensions of each domain, so that the Plan domain included three dimensions of union/guild contexts, leadership and staff participation, and planning. The Implementation domain included two dimensions of support and operations. The Assessment domain had a performance evaluation dimension, and the Action domain was made up of an improvement dimension.

Conclusion: Relying on their organizational and social capacities, trade unions can facilitate the leadership and participation of employees and communities for appropriate policies and making resilient decisions to control epidemics and other roles and responsibilities related to health.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Emergencies
  • Humans
  • Labor Unions
  • Pandemics / prevention & control
  • Qualitative Research