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New Survey Evidence on Recent Changes in UK Union Recognition

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  • Jo Blanden
  • Stephen Machin
  • John Van Reenen

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Jo Blanden & Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 2005. "New Survey Evidence on Recent Changes in UK Union Recognition," CEP Discussion Papers dp0685, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0685
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Machin, Stephen J & Wadhwani, Sushil, 1991. "The Effects of Unions on Organisational Change and Employment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(407), pages 835-854, July.
    2. 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, September.
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    4. Stephen Machin, 2000. "Union Decline in Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 38(4), pages 631-645, December.
    5. Millward, Neil & Forth, John & Bryson, Alex, 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.
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    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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Walsh, Frank & Strobl, Eric, 2009. "Recent Trends in Trade Union Membership in Ireland," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 40(1), pages 117-138.
    2. J. Shackleton, 2007. "Britain’s Labor Market Under the Blair Governments," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 454-476, July.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    unions; productivity; employment legislation;

    JEL classification:

    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects
    • K31 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Labor Law
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance

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