A quarter of a century ago almost 75% of the workforce were enrolled as members of a trade union. Presently in the public sector 3 out of every 5 workers are union members and has greater aggregate membership than the private sector where only one employee out of 6 is a union member.
Sue Fernie and David Metcalf in their Book "Trade Unions: Resurgence or Demise" 2 (2005) analyses the decline of trade unions and its future prospects. It contains contributions from leading analysts on the labour movement including Richard Freeman, John Kelly, Paul Willman, Howard Gospel, Rebecca Givan, David Marsden, Morris Kleiner and Claus Schnabel. In Chapter 4 of the Book discussing "Social Movement Theory and Union Revitalization in Britain", John Kelly, paints a very gloomy picture on the future prospects of trade union movement in Britain. According to him a stage has reached where workers in Britain no longer feel the need for collective representation of their interests. In this treatise we shall try to understand how relevant Kelly's observations are.
The trends over the last two de...
Another disturbing trend noticed was the reluctance by the employers to recognise unions as representatives of their employees for collective bargaining. As a result of this unions have not been able to retain their authority at workplaces. It was noticed that with the erosion in their bargaining power there was a drop in the incomes of the unions adversely affecting their vibrancy. Managements started bypassing unions over work models, deployment/ redeployment of labour force, their recruitment and training etc, which were domains where unions had a dominating influence. Unions being circumvented by the managements had an adverse effect on union membership and its influence over the employees. Unhelpful government legislations in the 1980s further eroded union status and employers started taking advantage of the situation.
This state of affairs led to another far-reaching trend in workplace disputes. Meaningful two-way dialogue was a recognized form of unions' collective bargaining ethos. Gradually this form of two-way communication started to spillover beyond unions to non-union formats. This form of informal direct two-way dialogue with entities such as problem-solving groups and the statutory works council, etc, started making incursions into other domains of formal two-way dialogues also. It is of interest to note that in the United States under the Wagner Act the union voice is the only permitted form of dialogue for resolution of work place disputes.
Countries who have adopted democratic principles of governance for their society accepts only formal employee voice provided by recognised trade unions as an accepted arrangement for workplace dispute resolution. However, in Britain a new approach