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Account for the decline in trade union power, 1964-1990

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Khalimov Murad ?Account for decline in trade union power, 1964-1990?. Long before Mrs. Thatcher came into power in 1979, Trade Unions were very important for the post war consensus governments. Both, Labour and Conservative party had been, in some way, dependent on Union?s support for their governments. Workers also had public support, which only strengthen their position and influence in the country. But with the time, Trade Unions started to demand more and more, undermining government and having exaggerated opinion about their own power. These led to actions from government that wanted to reduce their power and led to clashes between workers and decision makers. Soon it led to political crisis?s; energy crisis and loses of support of public by Trade Unions. The refusal for compromise led to a loss of the ?war? to Mrs. Thatcher in 1984 and Unions were never as strong as they were in post war consensus era anymore. One of the first modern clashed with trade unions happened during Wilson?s Prime Ministry. Labour was depended on Union?s support, as any other party that would be in charge, and thus in order to keep them happy Wilson appointed trade unionist Frank Cousins minister of technology. Wilson also relied on keeping good relations with the TUC (Trade Union Congress). He also proposed Price & Incomes policy. This policy was meant to stop wage rise by negotiating with unions in order to keep inflation down. ...read more.


All unions need to be on government register. However the policy did not work as expected. None of the unions registered in the government. TUC and CBI were opposed to it. The IRC proved to be ineffective in dealing with disputes. Also it did not prevent strikes, there were 2 major strikes in 1972, by the miners in January and by the railwaymen three months later. Miners strike lasted six weeks during the time of harsh winter weather. The strike stopped the movement of coal around the country. The energy crisis began which led to a so-called ?3 day week? which was introduced in order to conserve energy suppliers. This strike not only angered the government but voters as well. They blamed unions in cut of energy supplies and introduction of the ?3 day week?. The NUM leader, Joe Gormley, was a moderate Lancastrian with a good sense of public relations. He negotiated a generous wage settlement accompanied by other concessions. Although the strike looked like a clear victory against businesses and government it was arguably the main point when unions were doomed to decline in the future. Margaret Thatcher would learn on Heath?s mistake. Also, unions seemed to lose public support. Although miners did hard and dirty job, people could not tolerate the level of impudence unions had which led to emergency situation in the country. However unions were still strong and inspired by big victory and were looking for further actions. ...read more.


The key factor in the defeat of the NUM was probably Arthur Scargill himself. Scargill alienated moderates; he never got the support of the Labour Party leadership. Many people felt sympathy for the mining communities and many disapproved of Margaret Thatcher?s description of the strikers as ?the enemy within? but it was easy for Thatcher and her allies in the press to demonise Scargill as a dangerous revolutionary challenging the democratically elected government. Scargill?s all-or-nothing tactics almost certainly made the final defeat of the NUM worse; pit closures would have happened anyway but more pits were closed than would have been the case if the NUM had negotiated with the National Coal Boar (NCB), rather than gamble on a politically motivated strike. The results of the miner?s strike went far beyond the coal industry. The power of the unions was dramatically reduced. By 1990 total union membership was only two-thirds of what it had been in 1979. Other state industries such as British Steel and British Airways were reorganized with massive job loses. The ability of the unions to intimidate governments was gone for good. Previous Union victories played big roles in this. Although they were benefiting for themselves they angered public as their actions led to disastrous consequences for the country. Also Thatcher government new it is going to face challenge from Unions and thus prepared by storing coal which was used during the NUM strike 1984-1985. Union?s uncompromised position to ?In Place of Strife? and any other attempt of negotiation led to their loss at the end as they had too many enemies being against them. ...read more.

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