The Decline in Union Membership has Helped to Improve Industrial Harmony

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The Decline in Union Membership has Helped to Improve Industrial Harmony Assess whether the decline in Union membership has helped to improve industrial harmony. From 1979, the British labour market has experienced an era of de-unionisation that is still occurring at present. In 1979, 53% of workers were union members (Machin, 2000) and by 2004 only 27% of all workers were affiliated to a union. In the 10 year period between 1991 and 2001, there has been a fall in membership of 15% (Labour Market Trends, 2001) Trade Union Memberships, Britain, 1989-2003 Source: office of national statistics The historically low figures seem to indicate continually improving industrial relations in…show more content…
Why would a worker belong to a trade union? Trade Union’s use their collective identity to help individuals receive the best treatment from their employers; in working conditions, and matters of pay and entitlements. Unions work for their members to ensure wage mark-ups are in-line with the changes in the economy and in harmony with expectations of the workers. A by product of a trade unions work is to influence a more equitable dispersion of wages in the economy. All the outlined objectives appear only to be positive, making it questionable as to why union membership would decline for any reason other than the opinion that working conditions are good and a union’s interference is considered unnecessary. In fact, there are several reasons for the decline in trade union membership that are not directly due to improved relations at work. The composition of the labour force has dramatically changed in Britain where the 1970’s tradition of the working class male in industrial heartlands has been replaced with equal proportions of men and women now working in a predominantly service based economy. The compositional factors of de-industrialisation and the increase in female participation have undoubtedly lowered membership
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