British Unions: Dissolution or Resurgence Revisited
AbstractUnion membership rose by 100,000 in 1999 ending two decades of sustained membership losses û the longest, deepest decline in British labour history yielding a cumulative fall of over 5 million members. This paper analyses that haemorrhage in membership and asks whether or not the recent increase augurs a resurgence in unions' fortunes. Membership data and voice arrangements are described first. Then the decline in membership in the 1980s and 1990s is analysed, emphasising both the failure of unions to achieve recognition in newly established workplaces and plummeting density where unions remain recognised. The health of unions turns, in part, on their appeal to potential members, so their ''sword of justice'' impact is set out next showing how unions have an egalitarian effect on the distribution of pay, cut accidents and promote both family friendly and equal opportunity policies in the workplace. It is unlikely that employment will grow disproportionately in unionised sectors of the economy. So any revival of unions depends on organising activity among both individuals and firms. The pivotal importance of new recognitions is discussed by analysing three forms of marriage between capital and labour û true love, convenience and shotgun. The paper concludes that a twin track organising strategy would help unions partially reverse their membership losses û signing up new employers but also focusing on the 3 million plus free riders who are covered by collective agreements but not members.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0493.
Date of creation: Apr 2001
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Sandy, Robert & Elliott, Robert F, 1996. "Unions and Risk: Their Impact on the Level of Compensation for Fatal Risk," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(250), pages 291-309, May.
- Metcalf, David, 1991. "British Unions: Dissolution or Resurgence?," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(1), pages 18-32, Spring.
- Alex Bryson, 2000. "Have British Workers Lost their Voice, or Have they Gained a New One?," PSI Research Discussion Series 2, Policy Studies Institute, UK.
- David Metcalf, 1993. "Industrial Relations and Economic Performance," CEP Discussion Papers dp0129, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
- A Charlwood, 2005. "The De-Collectivisation of Pay Setting in Britain 1990-1998: Incidence, Determinants and Impact," CEP Discussion Papers dp0705, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
- Vassilis Monastiriotis, 2003. "Union Retreat and Regional Economic Performance: the UK in the 1990s," Urban/Regional 0302006, EconWPA.
- A Charlwood, 2003. "The Anatomy of Union Decline in Britain: 1990-1998," CEP Discussion Papers dp0601, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
- A Charlwood, 2001. "Why Do Non-Union Employees Want To Unionise? Evidence from Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0498, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
- Panagiotopoulos, Miltiadis, 2005. "The Evolution of Trade Unions in Britain," MPRA Paper 4290, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2007.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.