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Conservative Legislation And Trade Union Power

2484 words - 10 pages

Conservative Legislation (during the 1980s and early 1990’s) and Trade Union Power

Trade Unions can be defined as:
‘ Organisations of workers set up to improve the status, pay and conditions of employment of its members’.
Salaman, ‘Industrial Relations’, P77

From the end of the second world war, and up until the 1970’s trade unionism was continually growing. By 1979, 57.3% of all people employed were members of trade unions.

Annual abstract Statistics, 1990, ‘Industrial relations’, M.P. Jackson, 1991, P57

‘Trade unionism may be seen as a social response to industrialisation and capitalism’
Salaman, Industrial relations, P79

In the early days of trade unionism, there was a direct need for workers to be represented, in areas such as manufacturing, there were little channels of communication and as a result of this workers had little or no representation.

The collective bargaining approach, is a system used by trade unions to regulate industrial conflict. If conflict arises, the collective bargaining approach allows the trade unions to come together in a public forum to discuss any conflicting issues. The collective barganing approach in Trade Unionism assumes that the Trade Union is bargaining for the collective group rather than individuals. The collective bargaining group is given the opportunity to resolve any conflicting issues and in some cases but not all can prevent disputes from occurring. Harbison concludes that collective bargaining

‘Provides a drainage channel for worker dis satisfaction’
Harbison in Industrial Relations, M.P.Jackson

In 1970, Britain saw the return of the Conservative government under the power of Edward Heath. After the minors strike, the Conservative government lost power and Britain reverted back to a Labour government. After the ‘winter of discontent’ in 1979, Britain once again saw the return of the Conservative government, however this time it was under the power of Margaret Thatcher.

Previous to Margaret Thatcher, the government had always seen their main focus to be the achievement of ‘full employment’, a solution which in times of 1979 could prove somewhat impossible. The new Conservative government saw their future, as one of creating more jobs and encouraging greater success in competitive product markets, this was in an attempt to achieve full employment. The main priority of the new Conservative government was to reduce inflation. The one associated problem with this, was that in order to reduce inflation, the government would have to allow unemployment to occur. The government used monetary policy over demand management, and concentrated on the control of the rate of interest in an attempt to stop low levels of unemployment causing inflation. The government decided to use collective bargaining as a means of setting rates of pay for the first time, the government no longer required Trade Unionists as negotiators of pay, because private negotiating bodies were now used. It was...

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