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Why do non-union employees want to unionise? Evidence from Britain


  • Charlwood, Andy


The introduction of a statutory recognition procedure offers British unions the opportunity to reverse membership decline by organising non-union workers. The aim of this paper is to test theories of individual union joining in order to assess the likely impact of the new procedure on British union membership. Responses of a nationally representative sample of non-union employees to the question ''how willing would you be to join a union if one were available at your workplace?'' are analysed. Results suggest that the new legislation will cause union membership to rise among manual employees, but that unions will face a much harder challenge organising non-manual employees. Unless unions can change their environment, or change themselves then long-term decline is likely.

Suggested Citation

  • Charlwood, Andy, 2001. "Why do non-union employees want to unionise? Evidence from Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20116, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:20116

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paul Willman, 2001. "The Viability of Trade Union Organization: A Bargaining Unit Analysis," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 39(1), pages 97-117, March.
    2. Farber, Henry S & Saks, Daniel H, 1980. "Why Workers Want Unions: The Role of Relative Wages and Job Characteristics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 349-369, April.
    3. Towers, Brian, 1997. "The Representation Gap: Change and Reform in the British and American Workplace," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198289463.
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    More about this item


    Trade Unions; employee attitudes; unionisation;

    JEL classification:

    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations


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