How can a nation with thousands of years of history out of which just a short while ago she ruled the waves draw lessons conclusively from a nation born out of Britain's own bosom only few centuries ago notwithstanding the bloody conception
Nonetheless, Britain has good reason to approach and compare her performances with her staunchest ally. Just as in the case of every other issue, on a subject like trade unionism there is nothing so fulfilling as a comparison with the best, even if the lessons learnt turn out to be infeasible. (James J. Brudney)
There is a strong universal feeling hitherto unexpressed, especially among business circles that the world could do without trade unions. It is felt that trade unionism, like the socialist form of governance, has been a failure. Britain's tryst with collective bargaining has been particularly phlegmatic and uneventful. It is difficult to prove with any amount of conviction that something good has come out of trade unions. On the contrary, the identity of trade union has been riddled with anti-social activities, strikes, lockouts, go-slow tactics, union rivalries and even mayhem and murders. It may be for these reasons that nobody is really keen to be in the forefront when it comes to formations of trade unions in new corporations.
Nonetheless, it must be granted that the presence of trade unions has had a transforming effect on society. Thanks to the principles of collective bargaining, there is more appreciation for the working class, better salaries and working conditions, better living standards, more purchasing power, and recognition and justice for the less privileged and the exploited.
Therefore, the two extreme opposites of good and evil have dogged the trade union movement for such a long, disenchanting time that it stigmatized anyone to bring it up until the time was ripe for issue-based confrontations. One cannot but regard with a sense of amusement and awe the manifestation of potentials and capabilities hidden in the portals of trade unions. Come elections and employer-employee agreements, there is a beeline of the unlikeliest visitors humming and buzzing about damp, lackadaisical enclaves of the trade unionists hangouts.
The role of trade unions in Europe
The activities of trade unions have witnessed sharp decline in Europe. The trade union density is worst hit in France where it is merely 10% now. It is slightly better elsewhere in the continent. The position is much better in Britain where it is 44%. This is proof that in spite of claims of deteriorating working conditions by trade unions, Britain has one of the best employment regulation policies in the world.
The fall of the socialist regime in the erstwhile Soviet