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Is The Decline Of Trade Unions Membership And Density In Advanced Industrial Nations A Product Of A Disaggregating And Dissolving Working Class?

3003 words - 12 pages

The decline of trade union membership and density in advanced industrial nations is the result of changing political, economic, social, technological and legal factors which have caused trade unions to adapt the way they operate to represent a changing working class. The membership numbers of a trade union are not definitive of its strength, as density within the work place is what gives a union its power when negotiating. Within this essay evidence will be taken from Britain's industrial history as to why trade union membership has decreased and whether the working class is decreasing or reshaping.The definition of working class is important when considering the density of trade unions and their membership. The definition of working class is often given as those who work in manual labour. The definition that will be used within this essay however, is that the working class are those who have to sell their labour to live and not just those who work with their hands, receive low pay or believe they are working class. This definition incorporates the changing role of the working class as employment moves away from the manufacturing industry and towards the service industry. The first part of this question asks whether the decline of union membership and density is a result of a disaggregating and dissolving working class. This part of the question refers to the decline in numbers of people and the splits of the working class employed. The second part of the question deals with the time lag in the reshaping of the working class against a background of job insecurity and structural change. This part is dealing with the redevelopment of the working class as it undergoes structural change in the move away from the manufacturing industry and towards the service industry. Also after periods of depression such as the 1980's in Britain, a time lag occurs before the workforce is confident in a period of gradual growth and increases union membership in order to protect and improve living standards.The need for trade unions stems originally from the industrial revolution when the working classes were largely employed in unskilled manual work in the factories of the time. The unions of this time were largely general, which had little distinction of job roles and encouraged political intervention to improve the working conditions of the masses. The formation of unions was aided by the geographical location of the potential members, who in many instances were grouped, in similar conditions around the large industrial centres of the time. At the turn of the 20th century trade unions began to realise the importance of the government to their operations and supported the Labour party in their election campaign because the party has a stronger link with the welfare of the working classes.The role of trade unions within modern day society has evolved for a number of reasons into that of new unionism. The aims of the new unions are employment, stable economic growth,...

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