Trade Unionism in Recession

By Duncan Gallie; Roger Penn et al. | Go to book overview

oped, it was not characterized by significant membership losses, increasing inter-union conflicts, or systematic de-unionization. Rather, it was manifested in the conservatism and traditionalism inherent within the institutional structures that 'held the line' during the 1980s. As a consequence of their preoccupation with collective economic instrumentalism, trade unions were poorly equipped to deal with such issues as gender and ethnic exclusion within the institutional nexus of which they formed a part. Nor were unions well prepared to deal with the evolving training system in Rochdale. Indeed, they had little input into either company training provision or the battery of Training Agency programmes. In our view, it was the relative success of unions in Rochdale during the 1980s that, paradoxically, revealed the real difficulties for trade unions in Rochdale (and, in all likelihood, elsewhere in Britain). The overwhelming focus of trade unions in the locality upon economic issues had rendered them ill equipped to deal with the wider parameters of social change in the town.


NOTES
1.
For extensive analyses of the historical development of trade unionism in Rochdale, see Penn ( 1983 and 1985a).
2.
See Towers ( 1988b). Union derecognition is not a general phenomenon in Britain at present. Its incidence is concentrated in shipping and publishing.
3.
There were bitter recriminations between the TGWU and GMB and the AEU. See, for instance, GMB Journal, May 1988; ACTSS Magazine, June 1988; and the AEU Journal, June and July 1988.
4.
The example of enskilling was CADCAM and of deskilling was CNC punching machinery. However, the MSF official stated that the effect of new computerized machinery upon skill levels was, in his view, more a function of managerial intentions than intrinsic to the equipment itself.

-285-

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