A few decades ago, the trade unionism in the United Kingdom used to be very vibrant. Almost all the workers in both the public and private sectors were represented in the trade unions in UK (Blyton and Tumball, 2004). The trade unions had a huge representation of male workers who worked in the mass production industries. However, from 1979 trade union density in the country began to drop according to Blyton and Tumball (2004). Before this unfortunate decline, statistics show that membership in the trade unions considerably high; during this time, more than half of the entire workforce in the UK belonged to one form of trade union or another.
This is stark contrast to the situation today when the trade unions only have 26% of UK workers as their members (Labour Force Survey Report, 2006). The private sector only contributes a mere 12% of its workforce as members to trade unions in the UK. The same statistics show that the majority of union workers are those who are in the public sector. Very few part time employees enrol in any of the unions. According to Butler’s (2005) analysis, there are fewer men than women in the most trade unions.
Workers from across the country, regardless of whether they were working in public or private organizations were all affected by this decline. There are a number of factors that led to the decline of trade union membership in the private and public sector and they will all be discussed in this paper.
The decline of trade union membership density in the UK started to be felt after Margaret Thatcher took over the premiership in 1979. Though her leadership is not the sole reason for the decline, it played a major role in not preventing the decline of trade unions in the United Kingdom.
Right after Thatcher became the Prime Minister of Britain, there were several civil unrest cases throughout the whole country according to Butler ...
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