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New Survey Evidence on Recent Changes in UK Union Recognition

  • Jo Blanden
  • Stephen Machin
  • John Van Reenen

This paper reports results from a recent survey we conducted on the union status of over 650 firms in the private sector of the UK. Compared to earlier periods, the survey shows that since 1997 there has been a slight fall in derecognition, but a relatively large increase in union recognition. Almost 11% of firms report experiencing some new recognition, whilst 7% reported some derecognition. In the late 1980s new recognitions among similar firms were much lower (3% between 1985 to 1990 according to Gregg and Yates, 1991). In our survey, new recognitions were more prevalent in larger firms and in regions and industries where union membership was already high. New recognitions were less likely to have occurred in companies with higher wages, higher productivity and higher capital intensity. The 'blip up' in new recognitions is consistent with the idea that the incoming Labour government had a positive effect on the ability of unions to gain recognition, either through the 1999 legislation or more indirectly through changing the political climate.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0685.

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Date of creation: May 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0685
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  1. Stephen Machin, 2000. "Union decline in Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20191, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Neil Millward & John Forth & Alex Bryson, 2001. "Who calls the tune at work? The impact of unions on jobs and pay," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4996, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Alex Bryson & Rafael Gomez, 2003. "Segmentation, Switching Costs and the Demand for Unionization in Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0568, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. David Card & Richard B. Freeman, 2004. "What Have Two Decades of British Economic Reform Delivered?," NBER Chapters, in: Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980-2000, pages 9-62 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Roberto Torrini, 2005. "Profit Share and Returns on Capital Stock in Italy: the Role of Privatisations behind the Rise of the 1990s," CEP Discussion Papers dp0671, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  6. Stewart, Mark B, 1995. "Union Wage Differentials in an Era of Declining Unionization," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 57(2), pages 143-66, May.
  7. David Blanchflower & Alex Bryson, 2002. "Changes over time in union relative wage effects in the UK and the US revisited," NBER Working Papers 9395, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Stephen Machin, 2004. "Factors of Convergence and Divergence in Union Membership," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 42(3), pages 423-438, 09.
  9. Freeman, Richard Barry & Kleiner, Morris M., 1990. "The Impact of New Unionization on Wages and Working Conditions," Scholarly Articles 4632238, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Alex Bryson & Rafael Gomez & Tobias Kretschmer, 2005. "Catching a Wave: the Adoption of Voice and High Commitment Workplace Practices in Britain: 1984-1998," CEP Discussion Papers dp0676, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  11. Blanchflower, David G & Millward, Neil & Oswald, Andrew J, 1991. "Unionism and Employment Behaviour," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(407), pages 815-34, July.
  12. Brown, W & Hudson, M & Deakin, S & Pratten, C, 2001. "The Limits of Statutory Trade Union Recognition," ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers wp199, ESRC Centre for Business Research.
  13. Machin, Stephen J & Wadhwani, Sushil, 1991. "The Effects of Unions on Organisational Change and Employment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(407), pages 835-54, July.
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