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Changes in Collective Bargaining in the U.K

  • Addison, John T.

    ()

    (University of South Carolina)

  • Siebert, W. Stanley

    ()

    (University of Birmingham)

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.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 562.

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Length: 59 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2002
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: John T. Addison and Claus Schnabel (eds.), International Handbook of Trade Unions , Cheltenham and Northampton, 2003, 415-460
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp562
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  1. Richard B. Freeman, 1978. "Unionism and the Dispersion of Wages," NBER Working Papers 0248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Stephen Machin, 2000. "Union Decline in Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 38(4), pages 631-645, December.
  3. Lanot, Gauthier & Walker, Ian, 1998. "The union/non-union wage differential: An application of semi-parametric methods," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 327-349, June.
  4. Amanda Gosling & Thomas Lemieux, 2001. "Labour Market Reforms and Changes in Wage Inequality in the United Kingdom and the United States," NBER Working Papers 8413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. William Brown & Simon Deakin & Paul Ryan, 1997. "The Effects of British Industrial Relations Legislation 1979-97," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 161(1), pages 69-83, July.
  6. A Gosling & Stephen Machin, 1995. "The Changing Distribution of Male Wages in the UK," CEP Discussion Papers dp0271, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. Alex Bryson, 2002. "The union membership wage premium: an analysis using propensity score matching," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4953, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  8. Martin Conyon & Richard B. Freeman, 2004. "Shared Modes of Compensation and Firm Performance U.K. Evidence," NBER Chapters, in: Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980-2000, pages 109-146 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Alan Manning, 1991. "Pre-Strike Ballots and Wage-Employment Bargaining," CEP Discussion Papers dp0019, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  10. Stephen Machin & M Stewart, 1995. "Trade Unions and Financial Performance," CEP Discussion Papers dp0242, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  11. William Brown & Simon Deakin & David Nash & Sarah Oxenbridge, 2000. "The Employment Contract: From Collective Procedures to Individual Rights," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 38(4), pages 611-629, December.
  12. 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.
  13. Stephen Machin & Alan Manning & Lupin Rahman, 2003. "Where the minimum wage bites hard : the introduction of the UK national minimum wage to a low wage sector," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2452, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  14. William Brown, 2000. "Putting Partnership into Practice in Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 38(2), pages 299-316, 06.
  15. David Card, 1998. "Falling Union Membership and Rising Wage Inequality: What's the Connection?," NBER Working Papers 6520, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. John Addison & Stanley Siebert & Joachim Wagner & Xiangdong Wei, 2000. "Worker Participation and Firm Performance: Evidence from Germany and Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 38(1), pages 7-48, 03.
  17. repec:sae:niesru:v:161:y::i:1:p:69-83 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. 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.
  19. John T. Addison & W. S. Siebert, 1994. "Recent developments in social policy in the new European Union," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(1), pages 5-27, October.
  20. Addison, John T. & Heywood, John S. & Wei, Xiangdong, 2001. "Unions and Plant Closings in Britain: New Evidence from the 1990/98 WERS," IZA Discussion Papers 352, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  21. 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.
  22. Addison, John T. & Belfield, Clive R., 2002. "Unions and Establishment Performance: Evidence from the British Workplace Industrial/Employee Relations Surveys," IZA Discussion Papers 455, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  23. Addison, John T. & Belfield, Clive R., 2002. "Unions and Employment Growth: The One Constant?," IZA Discussion Papers 479, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  24. David G. Blanchflower & Richard B. Freeman, 1993. "Did the Thatcher Reforms Change British Labour Performance?," NBER Working Papers 4384, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Booth, Alison L & McCulloch, Andrew, 1999. "Redundancy Pay, Unions and Employment," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 67(3), pages 346-66, June.
  26. Machin, Stephen J, 1991. "The Productivity Effects of Unionization and Firm Size in British Engineering Firms," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 58(232), pages 479-90, November.
  27. John T. Addison & W. Stanley Siebert, 1991. "The Social Charter of the European Community: Evolution and controversies," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 44(4), pages 597-625, July.
  28. Machin, Stephen, 1997. "The decline of labour market institutions and the rise in wage inequality in Britain," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(3-5), pages 647-657, April.
  29. Richard Freeman & Jeffrey Pelletier, 1989. "The Impact of Industrial Relations Legislation on British Union Density," NBER Working Papers 3167, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. Coutts, Ken, et al, 1981. "The Economic Consequences of Mrs. Thatcher," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 81-93, March.
  31. Addison, John T & Belfield, Clive R, 2002. "What Do We Know about the New European Works Councils? Some Preliminary Evidence from Britain," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 49(4), pages 418-44, September.
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