Last Updated 23 Jun 2020

How Do Trade Unions Influence the Government?

Category Trade
Words 417 (1 page)
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In the past years and in recent times there have been several factors influencing the decline of trade unions, these are ;Business trends, structural changes to industry and labour market changes which involved a change from manufacturing sector to service sector, increase in self employment and more people taking up part-time jobs and temporary jobs. Other factors include individualism and HRM practices where employee management, development and training becomes the responsibility of HRM, employees having more performance related pay, and appraisal related to pay. The state however has been the most influential factor amongst those stated above in the decline of Trade unions in the UK.This is made evident by the high rate of Trade Union decline between 1979 and 1997 during the conservative Government leadership of which legislation was introduced.

Basically the conservative government, Magaret Thatcher being the prime minister at that time introduced legislation between 1979 and 1983 which involved a series of changes and events that resulted to a very high decline in trade union membership. One of the objectives of the conservative government was to exclude trade unions from any role in national policy making and this was achieved in 1979 and after 1979 was the regulation of the union’s decision making and electoral procedures (Henry 1989). During this period tactics such as secondary picketing which was used by miners (BBC NEWS) was made unlawful shown in the employment act of 1980 and 1982. Furthermore, there was abolition of statutory recognition procedure in 1980.Employment act of 1988 and 1990 ensured removal of immunities protecting closed shop. The abandonment of political commitment to full employment leading to unemployment rate decreasing from 5.2% in 1979 to 11.2% in 1983 and thus a decline in trade union membership.

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In conclusion looking at the above stated factors and how they affect the decline of trade union. Government legislation has been proven to be the most comprising factor in the decline, however it is important to note that government intervention by way of legislation was only a reaction to the adverse effects which was perceived by the government.


Paul,E.(ed) 2003. Industrial Relations Theory and Practice (2nd ed), Blackwell.

Lee,W. and Rooner,J.(2005).The Rise and Fall of Unionised Labour Market.

Hoque, K. and Bacon, N. (2008) Trade unions, union learning representatives and employer-provided training in Britain. British Journal of Industrial Relations. Vol 46, No 4, December. pp702-731.

Blanchflower, D.G. and Bryson, A. (2008) Union decline in Britain. CEP discussion paper. no 864. London: Centre for Economic Performance.

How Do Trade Unions Influence the Government? essay

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