Will the UK’s resurged unions ever catch up with EU framework?

By on May 12, 2021

first_img Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Will the UK’s resurged unions ever catch up with EU framework?On 31 Jul 2001 in Personnel Today Britain has seen a fairly constant decline in trade union influence sincethe 1970s and the causes have been much debated. The Thatcher reforms to unionlaw, and the shift from heavy industry to a service-centred economy weresignificant. So too was high unemployment. The recent emergence of a tighter labour market, however, and the LabourGovernment’s changes to labour law, signalled a renaissance in unionmembership. Union influence is now recovering from low levels. But how typicalis it of other European countries? The general picture across the EU is of stable levels of influence. Unionsin Europe are underpinned by supportive institutional frameworks and workscouncils. These frameworks are largely accepted by European managers andprovide a stable basis for unions at an enterprise level. The countries most similar to Britain in terms of union decline are Finlandand Sweden. However, in both Finland and Sweden unions continue to enjoy highlevels of legitimacy within the political system. The trend towards reducedinfluence in all three countries (and, to a lesser extent, in Germany) isexplained by an increasing trend towards decentralised bargaining. Unions findit difficult to move from sectoral to enterprise bargaining. Other countries demonstrate a different trend. In France and Spain, forexample, the number of organisations reporting increased influence outweighsthose reporting the opposite. Even though union membership in these countriesis low, the institutional frameworks and labour markets are supportive. TheSpanish economy, in particular, has shown high levels of growth during the1990s. Unions in European countries are clearly moving in different directions interms of their influence in organisations. This creates a challenge formanagers in devising Europe-wide policies. last_img read more

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