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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. Lanot, G. & Walker, I., 1993. "The Union/Non-Union Wage Differential: an Application of Semi-Parametric Methods," Papers 9337, Laval - Recherche en Politique Economique.
  2. 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.
  3. Richard B. Freeman, 1978. "Unionism and the Dispersion of Wages," NBER Working Papers 0248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Amanda Gosling & Thomas Lemieux, 2004. "Labor Market Reforms and Changes in Wage Inequality in the United Kingdom and the United States," NBER Chapters, in: Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980-2000, pages 275-312 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. William Brown, 2000. "Putting Partnership Into Practice In Britain," ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers wp178, ESRC Centre for Business Research.
  6. John T. Addison & W. Stanley Siebert, 1994. "Recent Developments in Social Policy in the New European Union," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(1), pages 5-27, October.
  7. 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.
  8. Alex Bryson, 2002. "The Union Membership Wage Premium: An Analysis Using Propensity Score Matching," CEP Discussion Papers dp0530, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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  10. A Gosling & Stephen Machin, 1995. "The Changing Distribution of Male Wages in the UK," CEP Discussion Papers dp0271, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  11. Machin, Stephen & Stewart, Mark, 1996. "Trade Unions and Financial Performance," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(2), pages 213-41, April.
  12. 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.
  13. repec:sae:niesru:v:161:y::i:1:p:69-83 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. 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.
  15. 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).
  16. William Brown & Simon Deakin & David Nash & Sarah Oxenbridge, 2000. "The Employment Contract: From Collective Procedures To Individual Rights," ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers wp171, ESRC Centre for Business Research.
  17. 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.
  18. Alan Manning, 1991. "Pre-Strike Ballots and Wage-Employment Bargaining," CEP Discussion Papers dp0019, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  19. 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.
  20. Stephen Machin, 2000. "Union Decline in Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0455, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  21. Stephen Machin & Alan Manning & Lupin Rahman, 2002. "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 20070, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  22. 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.
  23. Machin, S.J., 1988. "The Productivity Effects Of Unionisation And Firm Size In British Engineering Firms," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 293, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  24. 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.
  25. 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).
  26. David Card, 1998. "Falling Union Membership and Rising Wage Inequality: What's the Connection?," NBER Working Papers 6520, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. 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.
  28. David Card & Richard B. Freeman, 2002. "What Have Two Decades of British Economic Reform Delivered?," NBER Working Papers 8801, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. 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).
  30. 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.
  31. Booth, Alison L & McCulloch, Andrew, 1999. "Redundancy Pay, Unions and Employment," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 67(3), pages 346-66, June.
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