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Competition and the Retreat from Collective Bargaining

Author

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  • Brown , W.
  • Bryson , A.
  • Forth , J.

Abstract

For most of the twentieth century, collective bargaining provided the terms on which labour was commonly employed in Britain. However, the quarter century since 1980 has seen the collapse of collectivism as the main way of regulating employment. Our argument is that the tacit settlement between organized labour and employers was undermined by increasing product market competition. The paper first provides an overview of the changing map of collective bargaining, focusing on the private sector. It then moves on to ask why the retreat took place, and to explore the part played by product market competition and, in particular, by the profitability of different industries. The paper concludes with an analysis of the consequences of privatisation.

Suggested Citation

  • Brown , W. & Bryson , A. & Forth , J., 2008. "Competition and the Retreat from Collective Bargaining," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0831, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:0831
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    File URL: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/research-files/repec/cam/pdf/cwpe0831.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Brown, W., 2006. "The Influence of Product Markets on Industrial Relations," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0652, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
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    Cited by:

    1. John T. Addison & Alex Bryson & Paulino Teixeira & André Pahnke, 2011. "Slip Sliding Away: Further Union Decline In Germany And Britain," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 58(4), pages 490-518, September.
    2. John T. Addison & Alex Bryson & Paulino Teixeira & André Pahnke & Lutz Bellmann, 2013. "The Extent of Collective Bargaining and Workplace Representation: Transitions between States and their Determinants. A Comparative Analysis of Germany and Great Britain," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 60(2), pages 182-209, May.
    3. Crafts, Nicholas, 2017. "The Postwar British Productivity Failure," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1142, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    4. Devicienti, Francesco & Manello, Alessandro & Vannoni, Davide, 2017. "Technical efficiency, unions and decentralized labor contracts," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 260(3), pages 1129-1141.
    5. Alex Bryson & Harald Dale-Olsen & Kristine Nergaard, 2016. "Gender Differences in the Union Wage Premium? A Comparative Case Study," DoQSS Working Papers 16-15, Department of Quantitative Social Science - UCL Institute of Education, University College London.
    6. Alex Bryson & John Forth & Patrice Laroche, 2009. "Unions and Workplace Performance in Britain and France," CEP Discussion Papers dp0920, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    7. Nicholas Crafts, 2013. "Returning to Growth: Policy Lessons from History," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 34(2), pages 255-282, June.
    8. Crafts, Nicholas, 2012. "Creating Competitive Advantage: Policy Lessons from History," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 91, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    9. Crafts, Nicholas, 2012. "British relative economic decline revisited: The role of competition," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 17-29.
    10. Dr Alex Bryson & John Forth, 2010. "Trade Union Membership and Influence 1999-2009," National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) Discussion Papers 362, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
    11. René Böheim & Martina Zweimüller, 2009. "The employment of temporary agency workers in the UK – with or against the trade unions?," Economics working papers 2009-12, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    12. Crafts, Nicholas, 2011. "British Relative Economic Decline Revisited," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 42, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    13. William Brown & David Marsden, 2010. "Individualisation and Growing Diversity of Employment Relationships," CEP Discussion Papers dp1037, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    14. Erling Barth & Karl O. Moene, 2009. "The Equality Multiplier," NBER Working Papers 15076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    collective bargaining; trade unions; competition; privatisation.;

    JEL classification:

    • D40 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - General
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J50 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - General
    • L33 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprise and Nonprofit Institutions; Privatization; Contracting Out

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