Representing Workers: Trade Union Recognition and Membership in Britain

Representing Workers: Trade Union Recognition and Membership in Britain

Representing Workers: Trade Union Recognition and Membership in Britain

Representing Workers: Trade Union Recognition and Membership in Britain

Synopsis

Pushing forward the boundaries of academic research on unions, this book takes an interdisciplinary approach to the questions of employee representation, trade union recognition and membership of unions in Britain.

Excerpt

Profound changes have taken place during the last quarter of a century in both employee representation and voice. Union membership has declined by over five million, the closed shop is almost extinct, half the present workforce has never belonged to a union and now, in the private sector, only one worker in five is a member. Simultaneously there has been a big move away from representative voice to direct voice. Representative voice occurs via a recognized trade union or works council. Direct voice bypasses these intermediate institutions. Instead, management and employees communicate directly with one another through, for example, team briefings, regular meetings between senior management and the workforce, and problem solving groups such as quality circles.

The Leverhulme Trust realised that these alterations in industrial relations required more attention and initiated a research programme on the Future of Trade Unions in Modern Britain. This research is being carried out in the Centre for Economic Performance and the Industrial Relations Department at the London School of Economics, and includes colleagues from other institutions like King’s College London, Oxford and Sheffield Universities and the Policy Studies Institute. the team are very grateful to the Leverhulme Trust for this financial support. in particular the successive Directors, Barry Supple and Sir Richard Brook, have greatly helped us with their wisdom and flexibility.

Programme research is organized around a number of themes: membership; interaction with employers and the state; adapting to change; performance outcomes; and public sector and public policy (see http://cep.lse.ac.uk/future_of_unions. the various outputs will be distilled into a trilogy to be published by Routledge over the next two years. This volume, edited by Howard Gospel and Stephen Wood, focuses on trade union recognition and membership. It analyses the reasons for the decline in membership, what unions do for younger workers and women, the . . .

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