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Changes in Collective Bargaining in the U.K

Author

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  • Addison, John T.

    (University of South Carolina)

  • Siebert, W. Stanley

    (University of Birmingham)

Abstract

Perhaps no other country in recent years has witnessed greater change in its collective bargaining framework than the UK. This paper describes the dramatic developments and their consequences. Like Gaul, it is in three parts. The first part charts the six major pieces of legislation – conventionally described as ‘anti-union’ – that were enacted by successive Conservative administrations between 1980 and 1993, and links them to the subsequent decline in unionism and to improvements in firm performance and that of the macro economy. The second part examines the accession of ‘New Labour’ and reviews its domestic reform agenda, today largely in place. That agenda comprises two general pieces of employment and employment relations law plus a new national minimum wage. At first (and second) blush these changes do not return Britain to the mid-1970s even if they do imply an increase in union membership and rising costs for business. For evidence of more profound change one has to turn to the third part of our story: the social policy agenda of the European Union. Almost immediately upon taking office, New Labour signed up to the social chapter. This means that a slew of new legislation seeking to regulate the employment relation (mostly decided by qualified majority) is now in immediate prospect. Europe is therefore set to impact the theory and practice of British industrial relations. We provide a brief review of recent and prospective legislation.

Suggested Citation

  • Addison, John T. & Siebert, W. Stanley, 2002. "Changes in Collective Bargaining in the U.K," IZA Discussion Papers 562, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp562
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Wels, Jacques, 2020. "The role of labour unions in explaining workers’ mental and physical health in Great Britain. A longitudinal approach," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 247(C).
    2. John T. Addison, 2016. "Collective bargaining systems and macroeconomic and microeconomic flexibility: the quest for appropriate institutional forms in advanced economies," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-53, December.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    union legislation; Thatcher; New Labour; EU social policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • K31 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Labor Law
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects
    • J53 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Labor-Management Relations; Industrial Jurisprudence
    • J58 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Public Policy
    • J81 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Working Conditions
    • J83 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Workers' Rights
    • J88 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Public Policy

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