• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS COURSEWORK SPRING 2005 Assess whether the decline in Union membership has helped to improve industrial harmony. From 1979, the British labour market has experienced an era of de-unionisation that is still occurring at present. In 1979, 53% of workers were union members (Machin, 2000) and by 2004 only 27% of all workers were affiliated to a union. In the 10 year period between 1991 and 2001, there has been a fall in membership of 15% (Labour Market Trends, 2001) TRADE UNION MEMBERSHIPS, BRITAIN, 1989-2003 SOURCE: OFFICE OF NATIONAL STATISTICS The historically low figures seem to indicate continually improving industrial relations in the United Kingdom but these figures are possibly misleading. Is the sharp decline in union membership and strikes truly attributed to more peaceful industrial relations of recent years, or instead, might less positive alternative factors such as unions being outdated, a lack of union organisation, employer opposition or restrictive barriers formed by contemporary laws ruin the notion that striking is the traditional tool used to gauge poor workplace relations? Withdrawing one's labour from the market is no longer the ultimate demonstration of individual discontent. The association of a union decline with fewer strike occurrences is possibly not indicative of more peaceful attitudes at work. ...read more.

Middle

coal workers). Machin (2001) is revealing in his findings, stating that "For men it used to pay to be in a union in the early 1990's, and it used to pay to join a union, but by the end of the 1990's it does not. For women...it does pay to be in a union, but not by as much as it used to, and it does not pay to newly join". The opportunity cost of withdrawing cooperation is calculated to be an expensive and often unnecessary mistake. The increased cost in organising stoppages due to new legislation such as 1980 Picketing Act and the implementation of Secret Postal Balloting in 1993 has made union processes expensive and provided many administrative, as well as legal, barriers when complying with the law. The tightening up of the law has reformed the actions of trade unions and again decreased their involvement in industrial matters. A legislation index calculated by Freeman and Pelletier (1990) suggested that the changes in the law were "responsible for the entire decline" in union membership density levels. Conversely, individual rights in the workplace have heightened, the individual voice being given more notice and the right of appeal encouraged. The law has undermined collectivism - possibly the greatest reason for the demise of unionism. ...read more.

Conclusion

It would appear that the impact of fewer collective strikes under the umbrella of the trade union is offset by individual grievances and disruptions. In conclusion, it is likely that discontent within industries will be present even without the confidence of guaranteed support from a union. Unions are considered unwelcome and unnecessary by many employers and employees. The era of militancy seems to be over but it is an impossibility to keep all British the workers happy. The rising occurrence of tribunals and ACAS cases are perhaps illustrating the increasing difficulties unions have in expressing the views of the workforce due to legal and administrative restrictions imposed. Individuals have at their disposal alternative options which they can pursue leading to more lucrative rewards, and because of the currently booming economy that has not encountered a severe recession in the last decades, there is more likely to be a disregard for a collective bargaining tool that battles for positive real wage growth; this is already present. Industry composition factors and attitudes against unions make union membership far less appealing and not as essential as was evident in previous decades. Finally, it is understood that discord in the workplace is an inevitability, but is not clear as to the extent to which declining membership levels can be directly correlated to more harmonised relations in the workforce. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Trade Unions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Trade Unions essays

  1. Explain fully and clearly the importance of negotiation within industrial relations to resolve disputes

    Some trade unions use high profile campaigns on equal opportunities - like the RESPECT festival, which is held in the summer to celebrate multi-cultural diversity. E2: Set out the aims and the objectives of both parties in a clear, logical format.

  2. Account for the much lower level of strike incidence in Britain in recent years. ...

    the explanation being that inflation leads to concerns about maintaining real income. So it would seem that reductions in inflation have contributed to reduced strikes. But evidence that economic conditions have had a clear and uniform effect on strike levels is very limited.

  1. Growth and Decline in Size and Density of Australian Trade Unionism.

    This is typified in the hard labour sections where employees were uneducated and under-skilled. Employers would take full advantage of their employees and offer much lower wages and poorer working conditions, but with the help of unions, this was not the case.

  2. Why did the General Strike of 1926 take place?

    They also agreed to try and resolve the situation by negotiating with the government. If the negotiation had gone successfully then the strike would have been prevented, so this factor was important in leading to the strike but not the most important.

  1. Select any ONE U.K.trade union. Explore their current levels of membership, and services for ...

    A major contributor factor to trade unions such Amicus finding being increasingly less influence has been the radical transformation of global capitalism with liberalization of the currency markets, coupled with the advancement in IT and telecommunications has made transactions and flow of information even faster and resulted in a negative impact on the trade unions.

  2. Describe and analyse the key developments in British industrial relations over the past 20 ...

    In many ways this removed the need for trade unions. The first main bit of legislation concerning Trade Union activity was passed in 1980 (amended in 1982). The Employment Act restricted picketing, and made secondary action unlawful except in certain limited circumstances.

  1. "Management strategy towards collective bargaining is now characterised by decentralisation and flexibility" Discuss.

    There is therefore a rationale for hidden centralisation within large firms taking the form of guidelines and communication between top and local managers concerning the long-term efficiency of the firm. While decentralisation to plant level gives individual flexibility it does not follow that there will be co-ordination, which may be

  2. Conflict at work: Industrial Disputes

    over the new deal and the PF's deal on pay and conditions hangs in the balance. January, 2002 saw the threat of strike action go down at Manchester airport. Strike became more of a possibility on 22.01.02, as security staff voted in favour of the industrial action.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work