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									Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose        1

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Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                         2


Self Evaluation Activity 1.2: What ‘employment relations’ includes

Your list may not be an exhaustive one as we have not dealt with every aspect yet but you might have

identified some of the following:


Trade unions, union federations, employers‟ associations and employers‟ federations, the TUC, the CBI,

trade councils, industrial tribunals, joint industrial councils, government ministries, works councils,

Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

Actors (individuals and groups)

Shop stewards, convenors, full-time officials of unions and employers‟ associations, personnel officers,

directors, conciliators, arbitrators, tribunal chairpersons, judges, ministers of state and employees

themselves organised collectively or as individuals.


Bargaining, negotiating, settling disputes, settling grievances, handling discipline, handling

redundancies, achieving union recognition, policy-making, rule changes, tribunal hearings, calling

strikes, avoiding industrial action through disputes procedures, referrals to conciliation or arbitration.


Pay, hours, conditions of work, content of work, contracts of employment, termination of employment,

industrial policy, government policy, political decision making, internationalism, union membership or

non-membership, political affiliation, union duties and activities, maternity benefits, discrimination,

discipline, picketing, strikes and lock-outs, safety, employee participation and technological change.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                        3

Self Evaluation Activity 1.3: The three management industrial relations


1. Company X has a traditional industrial relations management function and style. There are no

   personnel or industrial relations specialists. The handling of employment relations problems is left to

   unqualified line managers and the Transport Director and dealt with on a „fire-fighting‟ basis.

   Employment relations procedures hardly exist, and the manual workforce derive little benefit from its

   employer‟s reluctant recognition of the unions. In short, the employment relations management of

   Company X is poor in the extreme.

2. The improvements you might have suggested include:

      the recruitment of an industrial relations or personnel director and one or two qualified specialists

       in personnel;

      the personnel and industrial relations team could then devise an appropriate policy for the conduct

       of industrial relations and personnel matters;

      the devising of written procedures covering disputes, discipline, grievances, redundancy,

       discrimination etc;

      recognition of trade unions for all employees with regular meetings of joint committees

       comprising management and union representatives;

      more workplace communications; and

      adequate training and development of employees.

   These improvements would change the employment relations management style and function to one

   approaching the „sophisticated‟ function. A further development which you may have thought of is

   the eventual appointment of an HRM director who would oversee the personnel and industrial

   relations policies and practices of the company.

Self Evaluation Activity 1.5: Dispute resolving services of ACAS

1. By referring to the characteristics of each of arbitration, conciliation and mediation given above you

   should be able to identify the main differences between them. The main differences are:

      With conciliation, the conciliator actively intervenes and helps both parties to reach a mutually

       acceptable settlement. The settlement reached is determined by the parties themselves through

Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                          4

       With arbitration, the third party, appointed by ACAS, adjudicates and sets the terms of a


       With mediation, the third party recommends a potential solution to the dispute but they still carry

        on negotiating to find their own details for a settlement.

2. You would, at this stage, probably find that the conciliation alternative is more acceptable to the

    negotiating parties at Strikes Ltd. This is the least constraining alternative and there should be enough

    industrial relations expertise and experience on both sides to reach an amicable, mutually acceptable


Self Evaluation Activity 1.6: Pay pressures

There is no easy solution to this problem which affected a large number of companies during this period,

but you may have thought of the following points:

   Part of the problem is to do with the supply of and demand for labour. During the 1950s and 1960s

    skilled labour was relatively scarce. It therefore became possible for skilled employees to work for

    companies offering higher rates of pay. Employers found that they were competing with each other

    for scarce labour. Those offering the highest rates had no problem attracting and retaining labour.

    Those such as ABC that adhered to industry -wide pay rates had problems retaining labour; this was

    particularly the case where there were several competing employers within the same geographical


   In order to face up to this problem, ABC management would have to offer rates of pay superior to

    those of its competitors. It could do this by negotiating at organisation level with its own trade union

    representatives, the shop stewards. These negotiations would be much less formally structured than

    those conducted with the full-time union officials at industry level.

   As a trade-off with its employees, ABC management could offer negotiations concerning working

    practices and productivity. The trade-off would be higher wages for increased productivity, and the

    aim would be to secure a productivity package acceptable to both parties. Organisational level

    negotiations concerning productivity became known as productivity bargaining.

   One of the consequences of what Salamon calls the „shift in the locus of regulation‟ (p. 18), would be

    a decline in the use of the employers‟ association and the EEF for the purpose of industry -wide pay

    determination. This could result in the company‟s eventual withdrawal from the employers‟
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                            5

    association, which is what happened in 1962.

During the 1960s the situation existing at ABC became a fairly widespread phenomenon which affected

much of manufacturing industry. The trend towards the development of organisational bargaining was

accompanied by:

   an increase in the power of work groups;

   a greater input by shop stewards in negotiations with management on behalf of work groups;

   a resultant increase in the gap between workplace union organisation with shop steward

    representation, and the formal, „official‟ union organisation comprising regional and national


   an increase in „unofficial‟ industrial action (action determined by union members and shop stewards

    rather than by the officials of the union); and

   the tendency for employers to conduct their own negotiations rather than negotiating through the

    employers‟ association at the industry level.

Self Evaluation Activity 1.7: Summarising

Early developments up to the 1920s included

   The growth of trade unions themselves from purely local organisations representing skilled

    craftspeople to larger bodies representing workers on a national and industrial basis.

   The development of employers‟ associations and federations.

   The development of industry -wide collective bargaining dealing with substantive and procedural

    issues and the establishment of formalised arrangements and agreements industry -wide.

Later developments until 1979 included

   Rapid decline in trade union membership during the 1920s and 1930s which corresponded with high

    unemployment and recession during that period.

   Consolidation of industry -wide bargaining until the outbreak of the Second World War.

   A rapid erosion of industry -wide bargaining during the 1950s and 1960s.

   An increase in local, organisational bargaining, spearheaded by shop stewards and local employers

    which gave rise to the „two-tier‟ system of industrial relations (local versus national).

   M uch greater state legislative involvement in industrial relations, starting in 1971 with the Industrial
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                         6

    Relations Act and continuing apace during the 1980s and 1990s.

   Government policies combined with recession and continuing high levels of unemployment resulted

    in a weakening of trade union power on the one hand, and a strengthening of the „rights‟ of

    management to manage industrial relations.

   The emergence of a „new realism‟ affecting trade unions and managements.

The reform of British industrial relations was considered necessary by both political

parties during the mid-1960s for the following reasons

   Full employment, relative economic buoyancy and rising expectations of material consumption,

    amongst other factors gave rise to a general „feelgood‟ factor encapsulated in the popular phrase

    „you‟ve never had it so good‟.

   This led to increased pay bargaining activity at organisational and local level which tended to

    establish local pay rates at higher levels than those established at industry level.

   Local bargaining, unlike industry bargaining, tended to be informal and fragmented and was reflected

    in the large number of local, unofficial disputes.

   Some commentators, such as Flanders (1975) argued that we now had a two-tier system of industrial

    relations which created increased conflicts and tensions within the industrial relations system as a


   The changing locus of regulation highlighted the growing influence of local negotiators – the shop

    stewards who were increasingly in conflict with the official full-time union officers who still regarded

    their role as industry-wide negotiators.

Self Evaluation Activity 1.8: Summarising unitary and pluralist perspectives

Whichever one you choose, try to write a statement of similar length to reflect the opposite philosophy.

You should, of course, have identified the above statements as part of a unitarist perspective. Identified

below are some example statements which are pluralist in nature:

We recognise trade unions as representing the legitimate interests of all our employees for the purposes

of wage determination.

We also accept that trade union representatives can advise and even help make decisions jointly with

management relating to areas of management decision making.

Our organisation is a broad church and we seek to accommodate a diversity of views and interests, even
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                          7

where those interests may conflict with those of the organisation.

We recognise that conflict is often unavoidable and even an inevitable part of organisational life. Much

of this conflict can be managed in a jointly acceptable way through the operation of procedures which

have been negotiated with our union representatives.

Self Evaluation Activity 1.9: Summarising

The radical perspective, then, presents us with a critical rather than negative view of capitalism.

Industrial conflict, according to this perspective is a reflection of the fundamental economic division and

inequality within capitalist society, and trade unions are seen to play an important part by collectively

mobilising the working classes in order to change capitalism or even replace it. If trade unions do not

share this wider view of their role, then they are not fulfilling their primary purpose. Both unitary and

pluralist ideologies/perspectives obviously do not share this concern: according to the radical

perspective, unitarists and pluralists merely seek to legitimise the power of employers and in so doing

reinforce the inequalities within the workplace and within society as a whole. The radical perspective is a

valid theoretical analysis of capitalist society and broadens our understanding of the industrial relations

processes within it.

Self Evaluation Activity 1.11: Can the state be neutral?

In the perspectives that we have already considered, we have assumed that the state takes a broadly

neutral position, and you may well have arrived at that conclusion. However, critics such as Farnham

(1997) argue that in practice the state is never neutral. The extract from Farnham reproduced below

provides a justification for this point of view. Before you read the extract, note that:

   the term „voluntary collective bargaining‟ is used in relation to traditional collectivism;

   the term „neo-laissez-faire‟ is part of liberal individualism which we examine next; and

   the terms „bargained corporatism‟ and „corporatism‟ are sub-divisions of the corporatist perspective.

       Politics, the state and the law are never neutral in employee relations. The roles of the state – as

       legislator, economic manager, employer or third party conciliator – its governmental agents, and

       the courts are crucial in determining the contexts within which employee relations decisions are


       During the nineteenth century, in the age of classical laissez-faire, or the doctrine that economic
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                        8

      decisions are best guided by the autonomous decisions of free individuals in the market place, the

      state’s role in employee relations was a minimalist and restrictive one. With the steady growth in

      the size, power and scope of the state in the twentieth century and the continued democratisation

      of society it was inevitable that the roles of government and the law would increase in employee


      In the liberal, market-centred state, voluntary collective bargaining provides the model for

      employee relations where unions are strong. This was the dominant model for much of the post-

      war period . . . It was characterised by bi-partisan Conservative or Labour governments, with

      demand-management economic policies and legal abstention in employee relations. Where unions

      are weak in the liberal state, the model is described as neo laissez-faire. This was the case . . .

      since the early 1980s. During this period, Conservative governments supported supply-side

      economic policy and legal intervention in employee relations. (pp. 23–5)

Self Evaluation Activity 1.12: Filling in the gaps

See Figure 1.3(b) - Views associated with different perspectives to fill in the gaps.

Self Evaluation Activity 1.14: Summarising monetarism and Keynsianism

See Figure 1.4 - Contrasting policy statements.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                        9


Self Evaluation Activity 2.1: The notion of a ‘good employer’

You may have thought of how well workers might have been treated by paternalistic employers who,

while obviously endorsing the constraints of the market, nevertheless accepted the view that labour was

not merely a commodity to be ruthlessly exploited. According to Child‟s research, the Quakers had four

guiding principles which ideally should govern the nature of the employment relationship within Quaker


   a dislike of exploitation and profit at the expense of others;

   an emphasis on hard work and service of others;

   equality and democracy; and

   a dislike of social conflict.

While the Quaker movement had a great deal of influence over Quaker firms, only two of these

principles were acted upon as being more compatible with the demands of the market – that of service to

others and the abhorrence of conflict. Gospel and Palmer state:

    Quaker employers were spurred to produce an articulate defence of management in social terms . . .

    They argued that employers had the moral and social responsibility to lead their organisations

    effectively and use the most efficient managerial techniques. This would enable them to serve the

    community by improving the pay and conditions of their employees . . . The Quaker employers led the

    way in introducing welfare measures for employees like paid holidays, sick pay, pensions and in

    providing a better quality of working life. These benefits would traditionally have seemed harmful to

    employer interests because they raised labour costs, but there were real economic returns in terms of

    reduced labour turnover and increased productivity. Enlightened policies did not alter the basic

    authority relationships at work or represent any radical rejection of employer objectives posited by

    classical economic theory. (p. 38)
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                     10

Self Evaluation Activity 2.3: Power bases at the disposal of management

Reward power often underpins individual aspects of the employment relationship. For example, the

incentives the employee thinks management can offer may range from promotion to increases in pay

based on appraisal of performance. This type of power is more manifest in non-unionised contexts.

Within unionised organisations, reward power is mediated by collective bargaining and joint

consultation arrangements, and there may be jointly negotiated procedures for promotion and other


Punishment power can be coercive and are often expressed as threats such as „If you don‟t like the

wages I pay then go elsewhere – there are plenty of others queuing up for a job.‟ and „You‟re not paid to

think, you‟re paid to do as you‟re told.‟ and „If you can‟t work harder than that there are plenty who will

– go and collect your cards.‟. A manager or supervisor can have an employee‟s pay withheld for late

attendance or allocate him the most troublesome work. M ost work organisations now have disciplinary

rules and procedures and if these rules and procedures are breached, this can lead to disciplinary action

from suspension without pay to the ultimate sanction of dismissal.

Power based on assumed ownership of information can give rise to industrial relations problems. For

example, in a negotiation situation between management and employee representatives, information

concerning investment, downsizing, contracts and other financial matters may be withheld from the

employee representatives. M ore generally, management may or may not decide to communicate certain

information to employee representatives.

Legitimate power or authority, is that power which is deemed to be legitimate and therefore acceptable

and which stems from the formal position and status of a manager within the organisational hierarchy. In

this sense, rules and procedures are developed which govern aspects such as promotion, selection and

training of employees, the administration of pay and reward systems and the determination of issues

subject to negotiation with trade unions. Delegated authority to line managers ensures the supervision of

allocation of work to employees and the monitoring of standards of performance.

Expert power has become more important as specialist knowledge grows, and is based on a division of

managerial work. In the industrial relations context, for example, there are specialisms within human
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                    11

resource and personnel management which facilitate control over labour (see page 68 onwards).

Referent power is based upon personal qualities and charisma and is more commonly a manifestation of

the „informal‟ organisation where getting results may depend more upon the quality of interpersonal

relationships than upon the operation of formal rules and procedures. For example, the informal

relationships between members of negotiating teams often exert a disproportionate yet beneficial

influence upon the outcome of negotiations.

Self Evaluation Activity 2.4: Examples of management control over the


Examples of control include:

   Technological: work is controlled by machinery and the assembly line. Arguably the traditional

    assembly line imposes the greatest degree of control while craft technology imposes the least.

   Bureaucratic: workers are controlled by rules and procedures and the detailed specification of work

    content and method.

   Financial: concerns issues such as investment decisions (what particular plant and machinery to

    buy), and remuneration decisions (determining levels of pay for the workforce).

    In addition, Thompson (1990) argues that control of work involves the mechanisms whereby

employers direct work tasks, procedures whereby performance is supervised and evaluated, and the

apparatus of discipline and reward.

Self Evaluation 2.6: Illustration of Braverman’s thesis

In this example, we have:

   a de-skilling process which transforms, or degrades craft work into unskilled work; and

   the implicit transfer of control from craft worker to management.

This follows Braverman‟s view. Braverman did not see the use of automation to de-skill jobs as an

expression of the inevitable impact of technology per se, but as a product of the need to control the

labour process in order to increase profits. Braverman would accept that the reason for technological
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                         12

change derives directly from managements‟ attempts to seek control over the labour process.

Taylorism as a form of managerial control and the contribution of Braverman have triggered a lively

debate concerning the claim of a single universal trend towards the deskilling of work. The ramifications

of this debate need not concern us here, but there are a few criticisms of Braverman‟s argument which

are relevant to the management of the employment relationship (Grint, 1991; Wood, 1982; Thompson,


   Braverman assumes that the drive for profit requires management to take control over the labour

    process away from the workforce, and that one particular strategy, Taylorism, is the most appropriate

    way of achieving this. This argument has been questioned on the grounds that firstly, there are other

    strategies available for management to control labour and that secondly, these strategies may not

    involve a deskilling of jobs and reduction in worker autonomy. Friedman (1977), for example, has

    argued that a Taylorist strategy of „direct control‟ may be appropriate for semi-skilled or unskilled

    „peripheral‟ workers, but that a strategy of „responsible autonomy‟, which delegates a certain amount

    of discretion to workers in order to gain their commitment to management goals, is more appropriate

    for skilled „core‟ workers (for example, skilled engineers) who are strategically important to the

    production process.

   A second criticism suggests that Braverman presents a picture which suggests that the workforce

    passively accepts the deskilling of its jobs and offers no resistance to, or at least makes little attempt

    to influence, management plans.

   A third criticism concerns Braverman‟s assumption that the employment relationship is characterised

    by conflict and low trust. This leads to the erroneous conclusion that the workforce always needs to

    be controlled by management and ignores the possibility of common interests that may exist between

    management and workforce (for example, a common interest in the survival of the firm).

Self Evaluation Activity 2.7:              Relating style to particular cases


The style of management at Garibaldi is undoubtedly unitarist, according to Fox‟s initial classification.

Later refinements of both Fox and Purcell and Sisson places Garibaldi‟s management style within the

traditional category as labour is viewed mainly as a factor of production and is subject to the vagaries

and whims of management and its assumed prerogatives. Trade unions are opposed but may be „forced‟
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                        13

upon the organisation by government legislation. This in itself may not be enough to re-categorise

Garibaldi‟s management style unless other changes such as the introduction of proper procedures,

provision for staff development and consultation arrangements are introduced.

Home Office

Unlike Garibaldi and from the evidence provided, the basic Home Office management style would

appear to be predominantly pluralist and more specifically, could be argued to demonstrate a

combination of „constitutional‟ and „standard modern‟ styles. You could refer to relevant quotes and/or

policy to justify this.

Self Evaluation Activity 2.9:            Changing industrial relations strategies: the

ongoing case of Rover

We can identify at least three distinct approaches to the management of industrial relations at BL/Rover:

   the approach adopted during the pre-Edwardes era;

   the approach adopted by M ichael Edwardes; and

   the approach adopted by Graham Day and his successors.

Pre-Edwardes British Leyland, formed from many different companies had to consolidate its industrial

relations. Insofar as there was a strategy, it tended to mirror the approaches adopted by its constituent

companies, and while management styles tended to be pluralist and „standard modern‟ in nature, levels

of conflict tended to be high during most of the 1970s. The typical approach adopted by management

was to recognise trade unions (membership density was high) and to adopt a „firefighting‟ approach to

everyday industrial relations problems. There were inconsistencies and marked variations in handling

important issues between the constituent plants. The two systems of industrial relations referred to by the

Donovan Commission Report (See Chapters 1 and 4) were very much in evidence at British Leyland; the

formal system of joint consultation and collective bargaining, and the informal system of shop stewards.

There were many unofficial disputes and interruptions to the production process which typified industrial

relations in the car industry during this period. On the other hand, however, there were attempts to

reform industrial relations, which for management often meant aspiring to gain control of industrial

relations at the workplace, an example of which was the attempt to reform wage structures by

introducing a system of „measured daywork‟ (a flat rate with no bonuses).
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                       14

The Michael Edwardes era was characterised by what became known more generally as „macho

management‟. M acho management was characterised by:

   Thatcherite assumptions about union power and the encouragement given to employers to mount an

    anti-union offensive in the workplace;

   sweeping away of restrictive practices;

   intensification and reorganisation of work;

   marginalisation of unions; and

   forging „a new more direct relationship with their weakened workforces who gave their consent to

    these changes and came to identify with the fortunes of their employer‟ (M acInness, 1987, p. 92).

If macho management actually became a general phenomenon, at least within media currency, then

Edwardes was the pioneer of it. In his interpretation of his role at British Leyland Edwardes stated:

    The real problem was that management was still striving to get into the driving seat, having been out

    of it for many years . . . we needed to re-establish management authority . . . We could either regain

    control of the company, or in the event of failure, concede that closure was the only viable option.

    (Edwardes, 1983, pp. 78–85, quoted in Blyton and Turnbull, 1994)

In 1979, Edwardes successfully sacked the senior convenor Derek Robinson, ostensibly for opposing

management‟s policies for the company. He then pushed through wide-ranging changes in working

practices and several very low wage deals. Examples of this management tendency in other organisations

included British Steel, where the workforce was reduced by almost two-thirds by 1986 and News

International at Wapping where the firm relocated production of its newspapers and introduced new

technology using a non-union workforce. These high profile examples of macho management did not

herald an era of wholesale confrontation with unions. M ost organisations adopted a more subtle

approach emphasising communication, employee involvement and consultation, and when Edwardes

departed, the new Rover management followed this latter approach.

The post-Edwardes phase is characterised by a more consultative style of industrial relations and a

strategy which emphasises both HRM and industrial relations issues. Rover remains a highly unionised

organisation, and the strategic shift to a more constructive relationship with unions is counterpoised by
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                      15

an emphasis upon techniques designed to enhance individual employee commitment, that is to embrace

both collectivist and individualist policies and procedures.

Rover: a postscript – the end of the ‘New Deal’?

BM W, the highly profitable luxury car maker, had invested £2.5 billion in Rover since it paid more than

£800 million to buy it from British Aerospace in 1994, but even this level of investment could not

counteract projected losses of up to £400 million for 1999. This is despite the agreement between the

TGWU and Rover, endorsed in a ballot of Rover‟s 39 000 workforce in 1998 entailing the loss of 2500

jobs and the introduction of flexible working patterns which would help close a 30 per cent productivity

gap with BM W‟s German plants, save £150 million a year and end overtime in an industry whose

employees had lived off such bonuses. The BM W board had also, supposedly, sanctioned a further £1.3

billion to rebuild the Longbridge plant and put in a new line to produce up to 500 000 medium-sized cars

a year to replace the 200 and 400 series, but this would be dependent upon government subsidies, which,

if not forthcoming could see the closure of the Longbridge site. By the end of 1999 it became clear that

the BM W board had decided that Rover was a liability, and a large part of the company, including the

Longbridge Plant, was eventually sold off in 2000 to a management consortium.

Self Evaluation Activity 2.10:             Definitions and models of personnel


The first definition relates to the normative model, while the second is an example of the descriptive-

functional model. The normative models usually stem from a unitary perspective while the descriptive-

functional models share a pluralist perspective.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                      16


Self Evaluation Activity 3.1: A ‘living wage’

The Webbs argued that the doctrine of „a living wage‟ which was taken up by trade unions in the late

19th century and throughout the 20th century would ensure, or at least offer the prospect that workers

could expect to receive a wage sufficient to guarantee „an efficient and vigorous working life‟ (Webb

and Webb, 1898, p. 591). Essentially, it assumes that wages should keep pace with the cost of living, and

that the best organised groups with substantial bargaining power through their trade unions could achieve

this, while, conversely, those groups who were least organised and with little bargaining power would

remain at or below subsistence level.

Self Evaluation Activity 3.3: The development of the trade union movement

You may have thought of the following points

   Trade unions emerged as a collective response to capitalism, and the need to resolve conflicts of

    interest between buyers and sellers of labour on a collective basis.

   Organisationally, trade unions evolved from the trade clubs of the 19th century.

   Trade unionism was initially concentrated within traditional industrial sectors such as coal-mining

    and engineering. The emergence of national union organisation during the mid-19th century was

    facilitated by industrial changes, the widening market for labour and goods, greater mobility of

    workers and the growth of employers‟ associations.

   The repeal of the Combination Laws and the trade union legislation of the late 19th and early 20th

    century progressively established the legal status of trade unions.

    Political factors such as the growth of the Labour Party, the granting of immunities to trade unions

     and the gradual incorporation of the TUC and the trade union movement in general into the

     mainstream of economic and political decision making, established the basis for the „bargained

     corporatism‟ of the immediate post-war decades.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                       17

Self Evaluation Activity 3.4:            Craft bypass

One example is printing a previously skilled craft which has been superseded by capital-intensive

computerised processes. Another example is vehicle building, a craft based on hand-built skills which

has been overtaken by assembly-line technology.

Self Evaluation Activity 3.5: Industrial representation

It could be argued that within the railway industry the union formerly known as the National Union of

Railwaymen (NUR) was a genuinely industrial union, but on closer inspection, train drivers evolved a

separate union to organise foot-plate workers (ASLEF), and clerical workers maintained their own

white-collar union (TSSA). The NUR has now merged with the National Union of Seamen (NUS) to

form the National Union of Rail, M arine and Transport Workers (RMT).

Self Evaluation Activity 3.6:            Advantages and disadvantages of general

union structure

Advantages of the general union type include:

the       ability to provide a more extensive range of services for members than smaller unions;

     the ability to develop specialist expertise for particular categories of members which has the

      advantage of retaining existing membership and attracting new groups and even smaller unions to

      merge with the larger union (as in the case of the Boilermakers and the GM WU to form the GMB);


     the ability to play an important role in influencing decisions within the TUC and the wider labour


Disadvantages of the general union type include:

   the danger that bureaucratic and remote methods of policy -making might undermine internal


during periods   of chronic unemployment and falling union membership generally, as in the 1980s


    1990s, the general union is more vulnerable than many smaller, more specialised unions; and

the   potential for conflict between shop stewards and full-time union officials may be heightened.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                       18

Self Evaluation Activity 3.7: Place crosses in some boxes

You should have placed your crosses as follows:

              Open         Closed       Vertical      Horizontal

GMB           X                                       X

UNISON        X                                       X

NUM                        X            X

NUT                        X            X

   The GM B is „open‟ in its recruitment policies, with a wide spread of members across industries.

   UNISON is a union recruiting mainly within public services and local authority areas, although there

    is now more emphasis on recruitment within private services, including „contracted out‟ services,

    hence it is more „open‟ than „closed‟. Consequently, membership coverage is broad (horizontal),

    although there is some vertical recruitment, particularly in the former NALGO sector.

   The NUM is a „closed‟ union which recruits vertically.

   The NUT competes with other teachers‟ unions, and to all intents and purposes is closed, and recruits


Self Evaluation Activity 3.8: The birth of UNISON and Amicus-MSF

It is unlikely that further increases in membership could be achieved through additional amalgamations.

One of the aims of UNISON is to build and develop the union‟s organisation at the workplace and

extend it to areas of public service provision where there is no union. A further aim is to recruit and

organise at least 1.5 million members by the year 2000 with particular priority given to the recruitment

of young people. In addition, the consolidation of its membership base in groups where membership is

already well-established (local authorities and healthcare for example) would be an appropriate strategy.

Self Evaluation Activity 3.9: The ‘new unionism’ of the GMB

The democratic structure and processes within the GM B incorporates both horizontal and vertical

representation; horizontally across, and vertically within sections, which reflects not only the diversity of

membership but also its changing composition. The Turner classification of union types would place the
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                        19

GM B firmly within the „popular bossdom‟ category (heterogeneous membership; mainly unskilled/semi-

skilled; and generally low participation rates). Nevertheless, as with the example of the TGWU, the

GM B leadership would endorse the image of promoting the idea of a „popular democracy‟, encouraging

broad-based membership participation in union and membership issues as evidenced by its adoption of

the „New Bargaining Agenda‟.

Self Evaluation activity 3.10: Expectations of the steward’s role

1. With regard to the external role set, the trade union may indicate in general terms the formal duties

   of a workplace representative which may include:

      assistance with negotiations on wages and/or conditions of employment;

      helping members to handle and resolve grievances;

      representing members with disciplinary problems;

      helping to recruit new employees to the union;

      representing members concerning health and safety issues; and

      collecting members‟ union dues – a declining aspect of the steward‟s role.

   The union will not specify how the steward should proceed with his or her representative functions

   either in terms of representing members to management and union, or representing the union to

   members and management. The steward‟s role behaviour will also be influenced by the expectations

   of the full-time union officer(s) with whom he or she comes into contact. This relationship can be

   fraught with problems. For example, research into the causes of the 1997/1998 Liverpool docks

   dispute has revealed a history of friction and conflict between dockers‟ representatives and the full-

   time officials of the TGWU (Lavalette and Kennedy, 1996). M ore generally, union officials are often

   regarded as being too remote from the workplace, leaving stewards to get on with the job as best they

   can. On the other hand, stewards may become too dependent upon the full-time official (Boraston,


2. An important element within the steward‟s internal role set is the membership which, in theory,

   elects the steward and to whom the steward is accountable. One factor which may influence

   membership expectations of the steward role is the extent to which leadership qualities are conferred

   on the steward by the membership. The assumption that the steward is an informal leader has given
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                      20

   rise to a number of studies such as that of Pedlar (1973) which attempt to identify leadership

   functions. Pedlar proposes a threefold typology of steward leadership attributes:

      Initiator who is proactive and encourages members to take up issues which concern them.

      Responder who is reactive and deals with problems when they arise.

      Representative who acts as spokesperson in dealing with other members of the internal role set.

   If the workplace is large enough, there may be several shop stewards belonging to the same trade

   union who may form a S hop S teward Committee which benefits individual stewards by providing

   mutual psychological support and reinforcement of collective bargaining. M ulti-union workplaces

   with stewards from more than one union may have a Joint S hop S tewards Committee which assists

   inter-union co-ordination over a whole range of workplace-based issues. Where such committees

   exist, one or more stewards may assume the role of senior shop steward.

   A further significant influence within the internal role set is management which, in organisations

   having decentralised bargaining arrangements, will engage in direct negotiations with senior stewards

   and full-time officers. However, too close an identification and involvement of stewards with

   management may have undesirable as well as beneficial outcomes. For example, a study of the effects

   of the implementation of the „Total Quality Initiative‟ at Rover Cars during the late 1980s revealed

   considerable disaffection with senior stewards amongst sections of the Longbridge assembly plant‟s

   workforce. The senior stewards were regarded as collaborating too closely with management

   concerning changes, the consequences of which were not adequately communicated or properly

   understood (Rose and Woolley, 1992).

Self Evaluation Activity 3.12:            Membership decline during the 1980s and


The GM B research paper entitled „Changing Job Patterns and GMB Recruitment Prospects‟ (1997),

offers a unique insight into the problems of declining membership faced by trade unions such as the

GM B. The extent of membership decline up to the end of 1997 is indicated in Table 3.3. The combined

membership of all unions which today form the GM B totalled 1.4 million in 1979, and by the beginning

of 1997, in common with the vast majority of unions, GM B membership had fallen to some 715 000.

The paper states:
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                      21

   Over the past 18 years all unions have been handicapped by a hostile working environment. High

   levels of unemployment and a long series of anti-union laws have turned recruiting and representing

   members into much tougher tasks. (p. 1)

   The paper goes on to make the following points:

      Unemployment has sapped confidence and undermined negotiating strength.

      Workers have become well aware of their vulnerability when faced with macho management.

       Many thousands have had to seek assistance from bodies like the Citizen’s Advice Bureaux

       because their employer has refused to recognise a union.

      Some of our stewards and staff representatives have suffered at the hands of belligerent bosses

       backed by an aggressive government.

      Shrinking workplaces have made organisation and recruitment more difficult where the union is

       already established.

      Our biggest problem has been in establishing union organisation on new sites in the face of

       hostile employers who refuse recognition.

      Our membership strength in manufacturing . . . suffered severely . . . As the manufacturing sector

       shrank, GMB numbers sank.

      GMB strength in the (public) utilities suffered as that sector saw its share of total jobs halved due

       to privatisation.

      Our modest level of membership in financial services left us poorly placed to win the race to

       recruit as the number of jobs in banking and insurance boomed. We did better elsewhere in the

       business services sector – notably in the security industry – a sector whose share in total

       employment increased by 50 per cent by the mid 1990s.

      Our base in distribution, hotels and transport allowed us to offset some of the losses elsewhere by

       successful recruitment in these private sector services.

      Were it not for the traditional GMB strength in public services, and the relatively stable share that

       non-marketed services like local government and the NHS have taken in total employment since

       1979, GMB membership might have sunk like a stone.

In essence, then, the reasons given by the GM B paper for decline in its membership are structural

(decline in manufacturing during the 1980s, and unemployment generally), government policy and
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                           22

legislation, management and employer attitudes towards trade union recognition, declining size of

workplaces, and privatisation of public utilities. Before considering the more general reasons for decline

in membership, (many of which are hinted at by the GM B paper), we now briefly look at the nature of

the decline.

Self Evaluation Activity 3.13: Explanations of union membership decline

Taken together, the above factors would seem to provide a credible explanation of the decline in trade

union membership. However, there are certain important caveats that should be borne in mind. The

business cycle and employment composition explanations, as Waddington and Whitson point out, may

account for the bulk of the sharp membership decline of the early 1980s which witnessed a steep rise in

unemployment and incomes together with the decline in manufacturing, while the effects of legislation

and employers’ policies were less relevant as explanations. During the later 1980s and 1990s the

relative importance of these explanations changed somewhat as the cumulative consequences of the

legislation and employers‟ policies became more apparent. M ore recent research by Elias (1997) casts

some doubt over the validity of the trade cycle explanation. Gallie et al. (1997) argue that Elias‟s


   shows that there is in fact no significant relationship between changes in the national rate of inflation

   and trade union membership. There is somewhat more evidence in favour of an effect of the national

   unemployment rate, but the effect is rather weak. In general, he (Elias) concludes that business-cycle

   theories have little explanatory power and that the more important influences on membership lie in

   individual labour market experiences and in the characteristics of the employment situation. Much more

   important than the national unemployment rate was people’s personal experience of unemployment. The

   strongest influences of all were the characteristics of the jobs people held. Those who were employed in

   the public sector, in larger-sized establishments, in manufacturing, or in transport and communications

   were notably more likely to be union members. (p. 24)

Self Evaluation Activity 3.14:              Responses to de-recognition

This depends on whether you think that derecognition is a short-term phenomenon which will disappear

as a result of the 1999 legislation in this area, or whether, as Claydon suggests, „there seem to be grounds

for thinking that purposive derecognition might become more widespread‟ (p. 179). M etcalf (1991)
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                        23

argues that unions could possibly prevent derecognition by:

   agreeing to negotiate at local level when there are situations where employers decide to end national

    collective bargaining arrangements; and

   by moving towards single-table bargaining and adopting a more co-operative industrial relations


In relation to M etcalf‟s argument, it should be noted that the introduction of localised bargaining

arrangements not only fragments an industry‟s workforce but also makes staged, purposive

derecognition easier to accomplish. In addition, the term „cooperative industrial relations‟ can be used to

describe a number of employee relations practices, mainly instigated by management and in situations in

which unions have no choice but to accept these practices, and in the process will probably concede

control over main aspects of the employment relationship. We may, therefore, agree with Claydon when

he argues that „while cooperative industrial relations may in some circumstances reduce the incentive for

managers to attempt derecognition, unions ignore their traditional sources of power at their peril. The

seemingly intractable issue facing trade unions, however, is precisely how to maintain these traditional

sources of power in the face of the movement towards union exclusion which has increasingly come to

define the “new industrial relations” ‟. (pp. 171–2)

Self Evaluation Activity 3.15: Extent to which recruitment aims are


The GM B example represents a move to what has been described as „managerial unionism‟ with its

„emphasis on the union operating proactively and seeking to discover what will attract workers to the

GM B and retain them in membership and then harnessing its internal resources to ensure appropriate

services are delivered‟ (Heery, 1997, p. 190). However, in order to do this effectively, unions in general

need to ensure that local officials are sensitised and receptive to new recruitment ideas and methods and

that local union offices are appropriately resourced. Gallie et al. (1997) reinforce this cautionary note

and argue on the basis of extensive case material and survey evidence of union organisation in Rochdale

undertaken by Penn and Scattergood (1997) that:

    The central source of weakness of the local unions was . . . the acute understaffing of the unions at
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                      24

   local level and the deeply entrenched traditionalism of views about recruitment. The local union

   offices were hopelessly under-resourced. Officials in three of the major unions were unable even to

   provide estimates of the number of members they had in Rochdale. In some cases, union officials

   were unaware that they had members in certain establishments. The picture that emerges is of local

   officials sometimes at a distance from the locality, working exceptionally long hours, lacking relevant

   information and overloaded by the demands placed upon them. This helps, in part, to account for the

   fact that local union organisations showed relatively little initiative in trying to widen their

   recruitment bases. Despite calls from the national union organisation to launch major campaigns to

   extend recruitment among women and to find ways of incorporating peripheral workers into union

   structures, there was little evidence of any substantial drive at local level to open up major new areas

   of membership. The traditionalism of the unions was reflected in th eir structure, with women and

   Asians still heavily under-represented within the unions’ own local leadership. Their internal

   structure made them poorly equipped to formulate the types of demands that would extend their

   membership. (pp. 27–8)

There can be no doubt, then, that unions have a new orientation to recruitment by defining new

collective needs relevant to gender, race, age and contract status, and by offering incentives to potential

members (personal pensions, mortgages and personal loans), but as we have argued, unions still face

problems in translating these needs and aims into practice. Nevertheless, recent evidence concerning

union recognition and membership recruitment suggests grounds for optimism.

Self Evaluation activity 3.16: Beginnings of the distancing of New Labour

from the union movement.

The following extract provides some of the reasons you may have considered:

   Under its new Leader, Tony Blair, the Labour Party has distanced itself more than ever from union

   influence. Blair has openly sought to reform Labour from the ground up and turn it into a modern

   social-democratic political platform which, after sixteen years in opposition, is capable of winning

   the next election by attracting the middle-class vote (which, of course, it has done). One of the party’s

   top priorities is therefore to tackle the power of unions and their leaders. The proposal to scrap

   ‘Clause 4’ elicited strong protests from some unions. According to Clause 4, Labour’s role was ‘to

   secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their indus try and the most equitable
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                        25

    distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of

    production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and

    control of each industry or service’. For seventy years this was the principle underlying the party’s

    efforts to nationalise the foundations of the British economy. The proposal to drop Clause 4 was

    adopted by 27 of the 30 branch organisations of the constituency party, but only a narrow majority of

    unions voted in favour of this move. Powerful unions, such as the TGWU (14 per cent of conference

    votes) and UNISON (11 per cent), cast their block vote against the proposal without consulting their

    members beforehand. Attempts by the unions to make their approval contingent on undertakings to

    work towards full employment, re-nationalise the railways, overturn Conservative anti-union

    legislation and introduce a national minimum wage came to naught. (Visser and Ruysseveldt, 1996,

    p. 61)

Another reason for the distancing of Labour from the union movement is electoral. In order to broaden

its electoral appeal the „New‟ Labour Party had to win over the middle class (the so-called „middle

England‟ factor) with policies which contrasted radically from those of the „old‟ Labour Party. The

electoral success of „New‟ Labour in M ay 1997 appeared to vindicate the party‟s approach, although it is

too early to assess the impact of these embryonic policies upon the trade union movement in particular,

and industrial relations generally, despite the introduction of the national minimum wage and the

Employment Relations Act, 1999. However, as part of its „re-launch‟, the TUC has broadened and

deepened its contacts with the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative party, and has established

presences at the annual conferences of these parties. To be sure, relations between the TUC, the trade

union movement generally and government have improved, and there is at least a minimal consensus

with the Labour government concerning policies in relation to Europe, minimum wages, employment

protection and union recognition. Nevertheless, the TUC will not be as influential in influencing

government policy decisions as it was during the post-war „corporatist‟ decades prior to 1979. The

TUC‟s bid for „social partner‟ status with government, which includes strong ties between trade unions

and left leaning governments and the „need‟ of such governments to depend upon union co-operation in

managing the economy is likely to be frustrated. The main reasons for this include:

   The overall economic policies and strategies of the government which maintains a continuity with

    many elements of the previous Conservative government‟s economic policies.

   The commitment to maintaining UK labour market flexibility and reluctance to strengthen individual
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                    26

    and collective employment rights beyond those contained in the Employment Relations Act.

   The ongoing process of distancing the party from its traditional union base together with attempts to

    build new support and bases among the business sector and the private-sector middle class.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                      27


Self Evaluation Activity 4.1: Redressing the power imbalance

As we have seen in Chapter 3, from the early 19th century onwards workers attempted to organise into

trade unions: the principle of collective action and „strength in numbers‟ was established as the most

effective antidote to capitalist economic and power relations. M arx and Responses to Self evaluations

Engels recognised the considerable potential of trade unions as significant vehicles of working class

political action and consciousness. Unions could serve as instruments for challenging the system of class

domination, and as „schools of solidarity‟ generating consciousness for the class struggle, provided they

retained a role as political movements, aiming and working to overthrow capitalism and its inequalities.

Thus, according to M arx, organised manual workers‟ demands reflecting a truly socialist commitment

would be oriented towards issues of control, towards questioning the principles of ownership,

organisation and the system of power relations in production rather than being simply economistic in

nature – that is, attempting merely to alter the worker‟s market position within the structure of

capitalism, for example by concentrating upon pay and conditions. Action of the latter kind would

generate only „trade union consciousness‟ and not the revolutionary consciousness necessary for the

overthrow of capitalism.

Self Evaluation Activity 4.2: Summarising pluralism and marxism

The pluralist perspective rests on the idea that power in liberal democracies is not and cannot be

concentrated since these societies possess means of influence, representation and redress, and

responsiveness of leadership, and politicians (as „honest brokers‟). Government, as neutral arbiter, must

choose between competing policy alternatives, the choice being an outcome of the relative efforts of the

various interest groups (such as the TUC and CBI) and of government‟s judgement of what is popular.

Since we all have the opportunity to mobilise pressure and make our views felt, all individuals have

some chance of influencing decisions, with the result that West ern societies in particular manifest a fluid

structure of power with a diversity of influential interest and pressure groups and „power units‟.

The Marxist perspective is based on the view that the state and government serve the interests of the
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                       28

dominant capitalist class or bourgeoisie because that class owns the means of production which enables

it to exploit other classes (the proletariat) economically and socially. In order to maintain and legitimise

its dominance, the bourgeoisie allow limited incorporation of other interests but debar these interests

from wielding any power or authority within society. Government is seen as a tool of the bourgeois ie and

perpetuates the ideology and values of capitalism thereby ensuring that these values are endorsed by all

members of society.

Self Evaluation Activity 4.3: Becoming a corporate state

The British economy has become increasingly dominated by large corporations, and the trade union

movement is equally dominated by a small number of very large unions. For e xample:

   By 1998 the top 50 companies employed around 5 million people, over 20 per cent of all people in

    employment. Between them, central and local government and the National Health Service employed

    some 18 per cent of all employees. In the private sector, the tendency for companies to merge and

    „rationalise‟ their operations continued.

   Trade union membership shows a similar concentration (See Chapter 3). In 1970 there were 565 trade

    unions, and by 1991, as a result of merger and amalgamation, this had declined to 315. With the

    decline in trade union membership and the ongoing trend towards amalgamation, the concentration of

    union membership within a smaller number of large unions has continued.

   There has also been an increasing tendency for post-war governments to concentrate and centralise

    power. This concentration of power led to a situation in which participation in government decision

    making was based not so much upon the principles of liberal or parliamentary democracy but on

    bargains struck outside parliament among representatives of the appropriate functional groups and

    agencies – employers, trade unions and government – to which individuals belong. This process was

    very much in evidence, for example, in the 1970s preoccupation with tripartite control (involving

    employer, union and state representatives) of quasi government institutions such as:

       The National Economic Development Council.

       The M anpower Services Commission.

       The Health and Safety Commission.

       The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.

       The Employment Appeals Tribunal and the Industrial Tribunal system.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                        29

Self Evaluation Activity 4.4: Summarising

Collective laissez-faire is the view that the parties to industrial relations should be allowed complete

autonomy in their relationships and that government should not intervene in these relationships except in

order to protect the employment interests of individuals when no other means are available and to uphold

the wider interests of society as a whole when these are threatened by particular industrial pressure


   Bargained corporatism represents a consensus approach to industrial relations, taking the view that

many areas of economic and industrial relations policy -making and management should be shared

between government, employers (represented by the CBI and other employers‟ associations) and unions

(including the TUC).

Self Evaluation Activity 4.8: Effects on employment

Without going into the intricacies of the model, it clearly indicates that if there is an increase in

withdrawals, for example in savings or taxation, or if there is a fall in injections, for example, a reduction

in government expenditure, there will be less to spend on goods and services, less income for firms, less

available to pay wages, and thus a fall in demand for labour. This will not necessarily lead to

unemployment as the intended consequence might be to reduce excess demand for labour and thus

counter cost-push inflation. The opposite is also true. For example, an increase in government

expenditure or a decrease in taxation will put more money into the circular flow. If this is spent on more

goods and services, it leads to an increase in economic activity, and hence to increased employment. But

the level of increase is eventually limited by the capacity of the economy.

Looking at this in another way, when people spend their income on buying domestically produced

goods, they are creating income for the firms who make those goods. The firms use that income to pay

their workforce, their suppliers and their shareholders, who thus receive income which they in turn

spend. Now consider what would happen if, instead of spending all their income on domestically

produced goods, they spent part of it on imports. This spending does not create income for domestic

firms, who therefore suffer a fall in income. Payments to their shareholders, their workforce and their

suppliers will therefore be reduced. Since these groups will have suffered a fall in income, they in turn

will reduce their spending, and so on. In theory this process would continue until a new equilibrium
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                          30

would be reached at a lower level of national income since, in each successive spending round, the size

of the fall in spending will become less and less.

The overall drop in national income (that is, the change in the equilibrium level) which is brought about

by the initial withdrawal will, however, be larger than the size of the initial withdrawal. This is the so-

called multiplier effect which we described in Chapter 1. As another example, lower government

expenditure leads to lower national income, and as the converse is true, any given change in injections or

withdrawals has a magnified impact on national income. Each of the three forms of injection or

withdrawal will have a similar impact in terms of raising or lowering the equilibrium level of income.

Self Evaluation Activity 4.10: Inflation according to…

It would be demand-pull. As we were to discover in the credit boom of the late 1980s, too much money

in circulation „pulls‟ prices up – particularly for things like property and shares. There is a general

willingness to spend more, and if the things people want to buy are in short supply, prices must rise.

M onetarists would also argue, however, that too much money in circulation enables unions to „push‟ for

higher wages, there being less resistance from employers able to pass on the increases to their customers

who are willing to pay more owing to the easy availability of credit and so on.

Self Evaluation Activity 4.11: Obstacles to the market

Supply-side policies seek to remove rigidities in the labour market in the belief that trade unions can

introduce rigidities which hinder the smooth operation of market forces. They therefore advocate that

measures should be taken to curb the powers of trade unions and they call for legislation to change the

institutional framework within which the labour market operates. For example, various statutes designed

to protect employees from unfair dismissal and to provide compensation for redundancy are believed to

discourage potential employers from taking on new workers because the cost of dismissing them, once

hired, is so high. The repeal of such statutes, it was argued, would increase the willingness of employers

to recruit new workers. Supply -siders also, of course, advocated the abolition of wages councils, which,

it was argued, kept wages artificially high and therefore reduced the level of employment in such

occupations. For similar reasons, supply -siders opposed the introduction of a national minimum wage,

arguing that it would result in higher unemployment. Other obstacles included:
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                         31

   the bargaining power of trade unions, largely deriving from their legal immunities;

   inefficient and expensive state monopolies; and

   disincentives to work and invest, such as high personal and corporate taxation levels.

Self Evaluation Activity 4.13: The exceptions

One of the problems with exceptions such as these is that they are not all compatible with each other.

Any attempt to improve the position of the low paid, for example, is bound to disturb relativities and

thereby generate pressure for further exceptions. Similarly, the productivity exception can disrupt

relativities or comparability in a way that undermines the long-term stability of the policy. Productivity

can grow at different rates in different industries for reasons that are quite unrelated to the relative

attributes of the workforce. M oreover, in some sectors productivity is difficult, if not impossible to

measure. Even where it can be measured, there is considerable scope for „bogus‟ deals, which was one of

the major problems to emer ge in the 1965 policy. Other reasons for exceptional treatment have included

equal pay (following the 1970 Act), „unsocial hours‟ and so-called „special cases‟. The rationale behind

the latter two has typically been either the need to placate some group with sufficient bargaining power

to destroy an incomes policy (such as the miners) or to reward some group which can command

widespread public sympathy (such as the nurses).

Self Evaluation Activity 4.14: Institutional and political constraints

The main institutional constraints are:

   The decentralised nature of collective bargaining in the private sector is an important constraint (See

    Chapter 6). The large number of bargaining units at national and local level makes it very difficult to

    monitor compliance with an incomes policy, be it voluntary or statutory.

   If, on the other hand, the private sector is not restrained – as happened during the 1980s – the heavy

    reliance on comparability in determining public sector pay makes it virtually impossible for the

    government to control its own pay bill without generating considerable resentment.

   Variations in settlement dates for wage and salary agreements impede the successful implementation

    of incomes policies by including some groups but not others. Any groups „trapped‟ in this way may

    well feel aggrieved.

    The main political constraints are:
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                       32

   Despite post-war consensus, the underlying adversarial nature of the two-party political system and

    the relatively short life of a government means that incomes policy is continually being undermined

    for short-term electoral gain.

   Both Conservatives and Labour have fought elections on a „no incomes policy‟ basis, only later to be

    forced, admittedly by circumstances beyond their control, to introduce such policies. Each

    government in turn, however, has then endeavoured to move back towards „free‟ collective

    bargaining in time for the next election. The result is that incomes policies have been short -lived, and

    any short-term beneficial effects have been nullified by subsequent events, such as the so-called

    „Winter of Discontent‟ in 1978–9.

Self Evaluation Activity 4.15: Functions of labour law

As far as the auxiliary function is concerned, we have made some progress. Trade unions do not yet

have a right to recognition; but if and when they are recognised the law gives them a range of rights,

such as the right to information for collective bargaining purposes – which help to promote effective

collective bargaining. A major step in this direction was the statutory duty given to the Advisory,

Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) to „promote the improvement of industrial relations, and in

particular to encourage the extension of collective bargaining and the development and, where necessary,

reform of collective bargaining machinery‟ (section 209, TULR(C)A, 1992).

The regulatory function of the law is probably where we have made most progress. Employees now

have a substantial „floor of individual rights‟ ranging from the right not to be discriminated against

during the course of employment to the right not to be unfairly dismissed.

In relation to the restrictive function, the general position is virtually unchanged. Trade union

immunities have been drastically reduced, but the law remains largely „negative‟ as it still focuses on

what trade unions cannot do rather than on what they can do.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                         33


Self Evaluation Activity 5.1: Commitment and HRM

Guest (1995), argues that organisational commitment is important for four main reasons.

Firstly, „by holding out the prospect that committed workers will be highly motivated and will go

„beyond contract‟, it promises higher performance‟.

Secondly, „committed workers can be expected to exercise responsible autonomy or self-monitoring and

self-control, removing the need for supervisory and inspection staff and producing efficiency gains‟.

Thirdly, „committed workers are more likely to stay with the organisation thereby ensuring a return on

the investment in careful selection, training and investment‟.

Finally, „but central to the discussion of HRM and industrial relations, it is assumed that a worker who is

committed to the organisation is unlikely to become involved in „industrial relations‟ or any type of

collective activity which might reduce the quality and quantity of their contribution to the organisation‟

(ibid.: p. 113).

Self Evaluation Activity 5.2: Industrial Relations Change

Some of the main changes are:

   a fall in the number of strikes, in the number of workers involved in strike action, and in the number

    of working days lost;

   a decline in trade union recognition;

   the move from industry-wide or national multi-employer bargaining to single employer or

    organisational bargaining and a shift from multi-establishment to single-establishment bargaining;

   a decline in trade union membership and density;

   a decline in the coverage and scope of collective bargaining, especially in the private sector and the

    privatised industries and services; and

   a decline in and eventual abolition of the closed shop.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                        34

Self Evaluation Activity 5.4: Extrapolating

1. In the future, a clear majority of British employees will work in non-union workplaces, where their

   pay and terms of employment will be largely determined by their employer, and that the proportion of

   employees working for employers where the „traditional‟ system of union membership and

   representation, collective bargaining and joint regulation will decline.

2. The growth and development of non-union workplaces will be characterised by an emphasis on

   „employee relations‟, joint consultation, an employer-employee relationship based on individualism,

   not collectivism, and growth in a range of policies and practices designed to increase employee

   commitment, motivation and involvement.

3. Where union representation and collective bargaining are retained, many employers will seek,

   probably successfully, to limit their activity, scope and importance. M any employers will also

   undoubtedly seek to steer their workplace relations towards the non-union employee relations model.

4. Should the unionised sector continue to demonstrate the clear wage and conditions of employment

   premium which, at present, results from collective bargaining and union representation, employees

   could well become disillusioned with the „new‟ employee relations model. Furthermore, labour

   market movements might well paradoxically, favour the „old‟ unionised workplace industrial

   relations system.

5. The 1990 workplace survey clearly demonstrates the important role played by structural changes in

   the British economy and the labour laws enacted since 1979, in dramatically reducing the dominance

   of workplace union representation and collective bargaining. It is not unreasonable to anticipate that

   these fundamental trends will continue largely unchecked.

6. There are two largely unpredictable factors which could change the future of workplace industrial

   relations and divert the present clearly detectable trends. First, as the result of Britain‟s acceptance of

   the M aastricht Treaty and despite Britain‟s opt out from the Social Chapter, EU policies might well

   restore trade union influence and legal interventions in the labour market which would favour the

   „old‟ unionised industrial relations model. Second, the appeal and popularity of trade unionism might

   well return, as the Thatcher era retreats into history and disillusionment with free markets, economic

   individualism and enterprise culture grows. (op. cit., pp. 397–8)

The first prediction is based on the continuation of existing trends and assumes that the trend towards

individualising the employment relationship will persist. However, as the research by Penn and
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                         35

Scattergood demonstrates, traditional patterns of unionism still exist and may well persist. The

government White Paper entitled Fairness at Work (1998) and the ensuing Employment Relations Act,

1999, established the principle of enforcement of trade union recognition where a majority of the

workforce want it. This may well encourage an increase in trade union membership and a decline in non-

union workplaces.

The second prediction will be valid for larger non-union firms, but smaller firms will continue, in

general, to adopt an ad hoc approach to these types of policies.

The validity of the third prediction depends upon the degree of receptivity the unionised workforce have

towards HRM policies and practices and the nature of workplace bargaining power.

Prediction four is largely speculative, as is prediction six, although with regard to the latter, Britain has

now endorsed the Social Chapter.

Prediction five insofar as it acknowledges the importance of structural factors, would appear to have

some validity as workplace union representation depends upon the level and density of union

membership which is stabilising after a long period of national decline.

Self Evaluation Activity 5.5: The Ford workplace

Fordist production systems such as the one described above still operate in manufacturing industry and

tend to have adverse rather than beneficial consequences for workplace industrial relations. The main

industrial relations issues within unionised workplaces using Fordist production methods stem from the

nature of the work, control over work and low-trust relationships between managers and workers. Work

is arduous and monotonous and may give rise to feelings of alienation (Blauner, 1964 – where workers

view their work as being meaningless and where workers have little or no control over the work

process). High levels of job dissatisfaction can result in high rates of absenteeism and labour turnover.

Fordist systems tend to facilitate management control over the work process (Braverman, 1974) and low-

trust relations between supervisors and workers characterised by conflicts over control and the speed of

the line. Hyman (1980) argues that:

   Through the process of negotiation of order the ‘frontier of control’ in each workplace is set. It is a

   fluid and shifting frontier: the limits of management authority and employee obedience are imprecise

   and always open to renegotiation. In some situations this instability may take the form of recurrent

   overt conflict, as either party takes advantage of temporary shifts in the balance of workplace power
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                         36

    to alter the basis of the control relationship. (p. 315)

Self Evaluation Activity 5.7: Flexibility in three contexts

Both are examples of increasing numerical flexibility, and both operate towards the lower end of the

retail market. Competition is based largely on price rather than (but not entirely excluding) quality of

products and/or service. This places a priority on reducing operating costs rather than on investing

heavily in staff skills and expertise. Cost control very much focuses on labour costs, and the increased

use of part-time and casual labour reduces both wage and non-wage costs in the following ways:

   staff are only paid when their services are needed;

   depending on the number of hours worked each week, part-time staff qualify for fewer statutory

    rights such as sick pay, paid maternity leave and protection against unfair dismissal (but this is now

    under government review); and

   given the high levels of labour turnover and absenteeism in retailing, „nil hours‟ contracts can provide

    a pool of labour to cover temporary gaps among full-time and permanent part-time staff.

Ackers et al. (1996) add:

    Evidence of the creation of a new ‘periphery’ through the growth of non-standard employment and

    employers’ strategic use of this group to change the employment opportunities of workers and

    weaken or exclude trade unions is thin. While case evidence suggests substitution of full-timers by

    part-timers and a dilution of union influence, employers overwhelmingly use atypical or non-

    standard employees – temporary workers, part-timers, contract workers, freelancers, etc. – not to

    strategically segment and weaken the bargaining position of workers and trade unions (although, of

    course, this may be one consequence) but for conventional reasons of covering for sickness absence

    and short-term peaks in demand or to supply specialist skills. (p. 14)

Self Evaluation Activity 5.9: Employment relations in call centres

You might have concluded that, given the nature of the control and supervisory systems which operate in

call centres, together with the seemingly relentless pace of work, adversarial industrial relations would

have been the order of the day. However, surprisingly enough, from the research and survey data

available, albeit limited and to some extent inconclusive with more research required, staff in most
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                        37

centres appear to be contented, and that higher pay rates tended to compensate for the extra stress (call

centre pay is often a combination of performance-related-pay and a fixed basic rate). The composition of

the workforce is also of relevance with the gender and age profile, mainly female and relatively young

who prefer a team atmosphere and the new working environment to a cramped office. Labour turnover is

relatively high, mainly because of „burn-out‟, and according to Fernie and M etcalfe, eighteen months is

„about as much as a computer telephonist can cope with‟. Some of the research dealing with industrial

and employment relations is considered briefly in the following section.

Self Evaluation Activity 5.10: Organising and servicing approaches

The TUC ‟s „New Unionism‟ initiative referred to earlier endorses the view t hat in expanding beyond the

traditional boundaries of trade unionism, there is both scope and necessity to introduce innovative

organising techniques in order to establish workplace union structures that are both relevant and

sustainable (Simms et al., 1999, TUC 1998; 1999). The organising techniques most commonly used

include the use of organising committees; identifying potential members based on the likelihood or

probability to join a union and the use of workplace „activists who recruit on their own rat her than

relying on the services of the full-time union official‟.

The servicing approach stresses the importance of the full-time official as recruiter and the provision of

services to members if they need it. Earlier in this section we also identified t he sweatshop perspective

on work organisation which emphasises highly bureaucratic and constraining workplaces with high

levels of surveillance and a low-trust employment relationship, and was contrasted with the more

positive MCB image, which, while acknowledging the constraining factors characteristic of the

sweatshop approach also addresses the „enabling‟ characteristics of call centre work. In considering the

wide diversity of call centres and the equally broad spectrum of employment conditions within t hem, it

would seem reasonable to assume that unions would target particular call centres and workforces in their

recruitment drives and strategies. Therefore within the „sweatshop‟ environment, more traditional

methods of recruitment utilising the „servicing‟ approach would seem the most appropriate. Conversely,

within M CB type environments, the more innovative „organising‟ approach would be the more suitable

one to adopt (See Chapter 3 for a more detailed account). Simms et al.‟s research tends to confirm this

hypothesis, albeit on the basis of examining one particular call centre.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                           38


Self Evaluation Activity 6.2: Webbs’ view and criticism of Flanders

Flanders presents a summary as follows:

   To sum up my argument so far, the fundamental mistake of the Webbs – and the source of confusion

   inherent in the term ‘collective bargaining’ – lay in their assumption that one econom ic process was

   being replaced by another as individual, or so they thought, gave way to collectiv e bargaining. They

   did not appreciate . . . that they were not comparing like with like. Negotiation is not the same

   process as bargaining in markets. A collective agreement is not truly a collective bargain. Trade

   unions do not sell the labour of their members; nor do employers’ associations, unlike individual

   employers, buy it. When, however, one goes out from the alternative premise that what is known as

   collective bargaining is primarily a political institution because of the two features already

   mentioned – that is a rule-making process and involves a power relationship between organisations –

   no logical difficulties obstruct a satisfactory definition . . . (p. 220) . . . Because the Webbs treated

   collective bargaining as an economic process, a position which followed logically from regarding it

   as a collective equivalent of individual bargaining, they tended to overlook, as others have done who

   followed in their footsteps, all of its non-economic aspects. (p. 224)

Self Evaluation Activity 6.3: Which pe rspective is most useful?

To a certain extent this will depend upon the scope of the bargaining exercise. Where there is limited

scope for bargaining, the marketing perspective comes into play. Where the bargaining scope broadens,

and as more substantive and procedural issues are negotiated, and as the focus moves from market to

managerial issues, then the managerial concept itself will feature strongly. Flanders favours the

managerial concept, but this requires a willingness, particularly on the part of management, to share in

decision making over a wide range of issues. The British experience over the past twenty years or so

suggests the opposite (with some exceptions): unions have been derecognised and collective bargaining

has been marginalised. Even collective pay determination in some organisations has been eroded by

performance-related and merit pay packages. The contemporary reality of many employment situations
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                        39

suggests that where collective bargaining exists it does not extend too far beyond market and

governmental parameters.

Self Evaluation Activity 6.4: Ford Motors

1. Looking at each issue in turn:

      Pay and conditions falls mainly into the marketing concept of bargaining, although it should be

   noted that if there were to be a „pay off‟ for either side making concessions (promises of greater job

   security in exchange for agreement on the new shift system), then this would involve elements of the

   managerial concept.

      Proposed procedural agreements is largely a governmental matter as this concerns

   „constitutional‟ arrangements between the parties.

      The total quality initiative, the redundancies issue, communications and smoking policy are all

   managerial issues which extend beyond the basic economic and contractual matters.

2. The bargaining relationship at Ford M otors represents a mix of conjunctive/distributive bargaining

   and co-operative/integrative bargaining. In larger organisations within both the private and public

   sectors of industry, there is often a combination of both types of bargaining relationship, although a

   complex of factors will determine whether one type dominates over the other. As we have argued,

   over the past twenty years, with collective bargaining on the retreat, distributive/conjunctive

   bargaining is the dominant bargaining relationship type. The example of Ford M otors, however,

   demonstrates that

   co-operative/integrative bargaining is the more common bargaining relationship concerning total

   quality, redundancies, communications and smoking policy.

Self Evaluation Activity 6.6: Fac tors influencing bargaining power

1. BritChem

   In the case of BritChem, there are two levels of bargaining. Basically, BritChem is a single-employer

   bargainer for all its three main categories of employees and while basic conditions and procedural

   issues are negotiated centrally, there would appear to be considerable leeway at plant level to

   augment the central agreement and to include other local issues on the negotiating agenda. There is

   one union representing each of the main employee categories, and hence there are three bargaining

   units within the company. The scope of bargaining would appear to be quite broad at plant level,
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                        40

    where many plant related issues would be negotiated, while at the centre, it is both more limited but

    with a strategic focus. All centrally bargained agreements would be formal so that there is no

    ambiguity about the nature of the agreement amongst the workforce, and this would also be the case

    at plant level (remember that in the 1950s and 1960s, domestic bargaining was largely „informal,

    fragmented and autonomous‟), although the social relationships between employee representatives

    and local management could well be informal.

2. BritEng

    The bargaining arrangements at BritEng follow the traditional multi-employer industry -wide pattern.

    The most important bargaining level is that of the industry and any local bargaining is probably too

    insignificant for bargaining levels to be described as „two-tier‟. There is only one bargaining unit

    (the manual workers) as the single union represents all grades and skills, and the scope for bargaining

    is very limited at enterprise level.

3. BCS

    BCS, by paying „lip service‟ to national pay agreements for its 250 transferred staff is involved,

    although not actively, in local authority pay determination, undertaken nationally. The bargaining unit

    comprises the 250 transferred employees although no in-house bargaining actually takes place.

Self Evaluation activity 6.7: Collective bargaining: main trends and patterns

The 1980s and 1990s, then, have seen radical changes in the patterns of collective bargaining in Britain

as the above tables indicate. The main changes are now summarised:

   The decline in the importance of multi-employer bargaining in UK private manufacturing and service

    sectors has already been commented upon. This is part of an ongoing trend that we have traced back

    to the 1960s. By the early 1990s multi-employer bargaining accounted for only one-fifth of

    employees in the private sector (Brown and Walsh, 1991). During the latter half of the 1980s, many

    national bargaining arrangements were terminated including banking, shipping, quarrying, airports,

    food retailing and newspapers. The most significant of these terminations, as Blyton and Turnbull

    (1994) note was the withdrawal from collective bargaining by the Engineering Employers‟ Federation

    (EEF) in 1989 after a prolonged dispute with the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering

    Unions (CSEU) concerning a shorter working week.

   By 1990, single-employer pay bargaining featured prominently within private sector services for both
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                       41

    manual and non-manual employees. However, single-employer pay bargaining had declined in

    private manufacturing between 1984 and 1990, but this was accompanied by an increase in

    importance of enterprise-level pay bargaining for manual employees for that sector during the same


   Within the public (non-privatised) sector, multi-employer bargaining remained dominant for both

    manual and non-manual employees, although increasingly, within the local authority sector, many

    authorities modify national conditions to suit local circumstances.

Self Evaluation Activity 6.10: Main changes influencing collective


The public sector has witnessed significant organisational, managerial and economic changes as

government policies during the 1980s and 1990s sought to introduce and consolidate market -led reforms

designed, amongst other things, to decentralise collective pay determination and to make the public

sector more „commercial‟ and financially accountable. The privatised industries and services were

affected by these reforms to a much earlier and to a greater extent than local authorities, the NHS and the

Civil Service, as the need for these industries to be profitable before privatisation became paramount,

and this provided the main impetus for change within those industries. Within the public services the

following developments are noteworthy:

   Despite the many changes, there has been a thread of continuity with regard to collective bargaining,

    particularly within the NHS, local authorities, some parts of the Civil Service and most professional

    groups such as teachers and doctors, in that many of the traditional features of industrial relations and

    collective bargaining have persisted into the 1990s. Examples of such continuity include the

    maintenance of national bargaining in some areas, the continuing use of the comparability principle

    and the persistence for the time being of the pay review system.

   Decentralisation of bargaining and pay determination has forced many managers and unions to re-

    organise their respective organisational structures and processes. For example, the formation of

    UNISON makes possible the creation of single-union deals, and for management there are greater

    demands to rationalise grading structures, set up appraisal and reward systems geared more towards

    individual performance with senior management grades being taken out of collective bargaining

    altogether as has occurred within some privatised industries.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                    42

   Government reforms generally within the public sector have led to the re-shaping of „the context,

    organisation and policies of most public services‟ (Winchester and Bach, 1995, p. 330).

    There has been increasing fragmentation and diversity between and within the constituent parts of

     the public services and within the privatised industries
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                       43


Self Evaluation Activity 7.1: The employment relationship in small, non-

unionised businesses

We can, therefore, arrive at some conclusions about the nature of the employment relationship in small,

non-unionised enterprises. This type of business is characterised by the relatively informal nature of the

employment relationship, arising from its small employment size and the unit ary management

perspective and style adopted within it. Employees, who are often women, part timers, and younger

people, enjoy lower rates of pay and poorer working conditions than their counterparts in unionised

firms. The personalised and volatile relations often experienced by employees stem from the mainly

coercive exercise of power by the manager/owner which is dis guised as benevolence in „good times‟ and

naked aggression when the business is threatened by change or when employee behaviour does not

conform with unwritten custom and practice (which itself may change). This behaviour emphasises the

powerlessness of employees and the high degree of compliance often expected of employees under

continuous threat of dismissal. Conflict is usually expressed in terms of individual actions such as

absenteeism and high labour turnover, any overt conflict being countered by instant dismissal. M oreover,

„since they fail to recognise or accept any conflicts of interest as being legitimate, such attitudes play an

important role in both the determination of management style in non-union firms and the inability of

trade unions to organise such companies‟.

Self Evaluation Activity 7.5: Summarising the main strategies and styles

The main styles include fraternalism, where the employer is highly dependent upon the skills of the

employee, and labour management is more a matter of negotiation between the employer as a „colleague‟

and relatively powerful workers. Paternalism is where employer dependence on employees is less

pronounced and the power of employees lower, enabling the employer to foster feelings of strong

identification with employees. Autocracy is where the employer‟s position of power is clearly

established and which manifests itself either benevolently or exploitatively.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                     44

Self Evaluation Activity 7.6: Non-union approaches to the employment


With regard to AZTEC, the following points, according to M cLoughlin and Gourlay, emerge:

   The statement was not regarded as a literal account of the way employees were managed, but was

    valued in its objective of retaining a „small company spirit‟ through „organisational developments that

    promote the formation of small, locally -motivated groups of people‟.

   There was some conflict between the „people-centred‟ nature of the style statement and the fact that

    the company, particularly within its British establishment, was „technologically led‟. This means that

    personnel policy was lowly prioritised, with no specialist personnel manager or personnel specialis m

    within the British establishment. Line managers were largely free to make personnel decisions within

    the broadest of guidelines, and even outside them, if necessary.

   The „style statement‟ suggests a strong link with overall business strategy. However, a closer

    examination of personnel policies and practice in the British establishment revealed these to lack

    formalisation and to be poorly integrated, and line managers appeared free to choose what approach,

    if any, they were to adopt.

   The „style statement‟ emphasises the individual nature of the employment relationship, and is

    elaborated upon in the „Employee Handbook‟ with statements such as „employees should feel free to

    discuss any subject with their manager and have the confidence that he will be sincere in his efforts to

    provide you with a correct and full answer‟.

   The emphasis on direct, informal communication revealed a dislike for rules and procedures ranging

    from grievances to informing and consulting employees.

   The issue of trade unions met with varied responses ranging from overt hostility to the view that

    because employees had superior employment conditions and were well paid (the „substitution‟

    effect), trade unions were unnecessary.

   The management approach in the UK establishment lacked strategic integration (even though the US

    parent seemed to espouse „traditional HRM ‟), with an absence of formalisation and internal

    consistency of personnel policies and practices while placing strong emphasis upon individualism and

    informal relations between management and managed. This accords with the „benevolent autocracy‟


    The approach at IMPERIA L demonstrated many features of collective regulation, particularly w ith
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                   45

regard to the elected company council, pay deter mination, grievance processing and the

management of conflict. On the other hand, the approach to managing employees lacked strategic

integration and w as more opportunist and pragm atic, w ith personnel and industrial relations issues

subordinated to the production requirements of line management and dealt w ith using a ‘fire-fighting’

approach. McLoughlin and Gour lay add:

In many ways, the approach was, in fact, far more akin to that of the reactive programme associated with

most unionized British firms. Of course, this should not be surprising given the company‟s earlier

recognition of unions. However, it does suggest that managers had failed to develop a clear and

consistent alternative to managing with unions and there had certainly not been a fundamental shift in the

balance between collectivism and individualism. (p. 87)
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                     46


Self Evaluation Activity 8.6: Consequences of the UK opt-out

One of the prime factors behind the UK opt-out was the government‟s desire to avoid the introduction of

pan-European employee information and consultation. The opt-out meant that there was no legal right

for UK employees to participate in information and consultation arrangements set up under the terms of

the Directive. Furthermore UK employees did not count towards the European workforce-size threshold

of 1000 employees above which companies concerned would have to establish information and

consultation mechanisms. The position was not, however, as bleak as appeared at first glance. Hundreds

of companies with plants in the UK, including around 100 British-based companies, were required to

negotiate EWCs or other information and consultation procedures. In addition, experience of voluntary

agreements has shown that companies were including UK workers in their EWC structures despite not

being required to do so by law.

Three types of company operating in the UK were still required to set up EWCs, regardless of the opt -

out. Firstly, companies from other member states with operations in Britain; secondly, companies from

outside the seventeen countries covered by the Directive which have major operations in other European

states as well as the UK, and thirdly, UK-based companies with substantial operations elsewhere in

Europe. In each of these cases companies will be covered by the Directive if their employment levels in

the EU, disregarding the UK, but including Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein exceed 1000 overall and at

least 150 in two separate countries. M ost employers entering into negotiations on EWCs have accepted

that it would be imprudent to exclude UK representatives. Companies would be wasting an opportunity

to communicate with all their employees by excluding UK representatives. Insofar as management can

use EWCs to get their message across to employee representatives, keep them informed of the

company‟s progress and explain corporate decisions, the exclusion of UK representatives would weaken
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                       47

the effectiveness of such communication, and to date all companies concluding EWC agreements have

included their British workers. The Engineering Employers‟ Federation (EEF) has revealed that very few

employers would wish to exclude their British employees from any consultation structures that are

established (Bassett, 1996).

Self Evaluation Activity 8.9: How successful is Barclays Partnership


One of the central problems in assessing the impact of partnership on UNIFI in Barclays Bank is that

there is no way of knowing what would have happened without it. In recent years, the financial services

industry has been caught up in restructuring of monumental proportions. All the major retail banks in the

UK have been consolidating acquisitions, centralising their back office functions, opening new call

centres, closing local branches and encouraging sales. UNIFI has been unable to stem the tide of change

in any one of the banks. And in this context, the Barclays partnership agreement has actually made new

ground in very difficult times. The union now has a system of workplace representation in place and the

opportunity to rebuild union organisation from the grass roots. M oreover, joint decision-making has

allowed the union access to senior managers and the chance to influence decisions before they are made.

In bolstering UNIFI‟s influence, profile and organisation, partnership is a qualified success. There are

now more than 100 union representatives in place to start rebuilding workplace trade union organisation.

   However, the next stage of development will be critical. Partnership needs to move down to local

level, the union needs to be able to communicate the work that it does and it needs to grasp the agenda at

least some of the time. M oreover, some expertise in scrutinising corporate activity is needed to

accurately assess the balance of interests between staff and the bank.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                         48


Self Evaluation Activity 9.2: Motives for taking industrial action

The taking of industrial action by either employees or employers represents the breakdown of goodwill,

co-operation and trust between the parties to the employment relationship, and tends to be the method of

last resort in attempting to resolve differences concerning the bargaining process, or the wage-effort

bargain. The main aims of taking industrial action include:

   the intention of either party to impose unilateral sanctions as a result of each party‟s assessment of

    their bargaining power (See Chapter 4);

   the weakening of either party‟s opposition during the bargaining process which is dependent upon a

    number of factors such as whether or not employees are unionised; and

   the favourable evaluation by either party of the outcome of taking industrial action in terms of costs

    and benefits to both parties and consequences of the action for the future conduct of indust rial


Self Evaluation Activity 9.3: Decline in unofficial strikes

There are many factors, but some of the main ones include:

   government legislation which has meant that all unofficial strikes constitute „unlawful‟ industrial


   decline in the power of workplace representatives during the 1980s and 1990s; and

   decline in „strike-prone‟ industries.

Some of these factors are considered in greater detail within the text.

Self Evaluation Activity 9.8: The effects of Thatcherism

As we have seen in Chapter 4, the individual or „new‟ liberalism of successive Conservative

governments has sought to marginalise trade union influence and power while at the same time

emphasising the individualisation of the employment relationship. Far from securin g greater individual
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                        49

commitment, many managements have increased their demands upon the workforce through work

intensification and rapid workplace change. The reluctance on the part of many workers to take industrial

action can be attributed to the „fear‟ factor; that workers were afraid to take industrial action not only as

a result of the changing balance of power between employers and trade unions but also because of

feelings of job insecurity. It is important to emphasise that some of the other explanat ions of the

downward trend in strike activity, such as balloting provisions, the role of legislation, and economic

policy to achieve a „natural‟ (high) level of unemployment are also the result of the Conservative

government‟s policies.

Self Evaluation Activity 9.9: Lessons that could be learnt from the

Messenger dispute

The key issues and lessons that can be drawn from this dispute include:

   For managements it is generally unwise to resort to the law as part of their strategy for handling

    industrial disputes as this may aggravate already poor industrial relations or sacrifice previous efforts

    to secure „good‟ industrial relations.

   For managements and unions under the 1980 legislation, mass picketing is counterproductive as

    this would criminalise picketing as a result of direct police involvement.

   When the law was used, it was clear in practice that it made it extremely difficult for unions to win

    disputes outside the struck workplace. The legislation protected employers transferring work and it

    protected their dismissal of striking workers at the primary workplace. M cIlroy (1991) adds:

       It was pointless for the Stockport Six to picket their workplace – nothing was happening there! Yet

       they were banned by the 1980 Act from picketing the depot at Warrington to which their work had

       been transferred whilst boycotts of the Messenger Group by other workers was restrained by the

       1982 Act. If the law was accepted the closed shop, union control of labour and union control of

       the work process were endangered. (p. 71)

   The courts were prepared to move swiftly to sequester union funds rather than simply sending in

    accountants to collect fines.

   The dispute demonstrated the inability and general unwillingness of the wider trade union movement

    and the TUC to interfere in disputes of this nature.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                     50

   The increasingly legalistic approach which many managements adopted during the 1980s is

    demonstrated within the text.

Self Evaluation Activity 9.10: Union immunities and industrial action

    If you have answered „yes‟ to each of the above questions, then you have correctly understood the

present position on immunities and the union is therefore protected against any legal consequences. If

you have answered „no‟ to any of these questions (with the exception of question 10), then you may

have incorrectly understood the current position, and are therefore advised to re-read pages 371–376

again! Note that the Employment Relations Act, 1999, has changed the position with regard to question 10
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                     51


Self Evaluation Activity 10.4: Activities associated with the lead negotiator


Activities include:

   handling personal and working relationships within negotiating teams;

   allocation of roles and tasks to individual team members;

   co-ordinating the activities of team members;

   handling information and expertise within the team;

   resolving any intra-group conflict;

   assessing the other side‟s case; and

   responsibilities for duration of negotiating sessions, setting and observing deadlines and


Self Evaluation Activity 10.5: Identifying negotiator roles

(a) The Chair: Normally, one of the management team will perform this role, but sometimes the role is

     dispensed with.

(b) The Lead Negotiator: Each party requires a lead negotiator to present the case and consider the

     opposing case. The lead negotiator can perform at least some of the functions identified above.

(c) The S pecialist(s): The management team may require a financial specialist and/or a specialist in

     legal matters in addition to the personnel manager. The union team similarly may require the

     services of a person with expertise in production systems, health and safety, equal opportunities and

     pensions. The specialist should not become involved in the general negotiations, providing advice

     when requested by the lead negotiator.

(d) The Observer: The observer is an important member of the team as she/he does not get involved in

     discussions. Observers will evaluate the negotiations as they develop and advise accordingly .

(e) The Note Taker: The note taker should be free to take notes regardless of their relevance or

     whether they will be actually used. Changes in mood, body language and tenor of negotiations
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                        52

     should be noted.

(f) The Summariser: The summariser „should be thinking about an overview of how things are

     progressing, what arguments made an impression, what did not. They should consider how the

     meeting went and what position the team is now in‟ (Cairns, 1996 p. 58).

Self Evaluation Activity 10.6: Pre-negotiation information

It is important to reinforce the point that union negotiators or employee representatives do not have ready

access to management information systems as management themselves have, and there is the issue

concerning disclosure of information which we consider below. Walton and M cKersie (1965) in

emphasising the importance of the role of information assert that „the role of information or the lack of

information is of such tactical importance in distributive bargaining that it needs to be handled at the

outset. It affects all other tactical operations.‟(p. 60).

    Provided below is a summary of the types of information which you may have included in your list.

We then provide a more detailed account of them.

    The union team will need information on:

   cost of living and inflation;

   pay differentials and relativities (also called comparabilities);

   the „going rate‟ of pay within an industry; and

   any other information which should be disclosed by management and which assists the negotiation


The management team will need information on:

   profitability;

   structure and composition of the workforce;

   labour turnover and absenteeism;

   payroll information; and

   investment, sales and market position.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                       53

Self Evaluation Activity 10.7: Arguments against disclosure

Possible arguments against disclosure include:

   The knowledge is power argument, which assumes that possession of relevant information by one

    party to negotiation (say, the management team) to the exclusion of the other party gives the former

    party greater negotiating leverage and power. The management team might argue that if such

    information were disclosed, this advantage would be lost and the union team would be able to

    determine the management team‟s negotiating limits.

   Disclosure of information on a regular basis or on a „request to see‟ basis might not only lead to

    questioning of such information but also to demands to formalise the arrangements for disclosure. In

    this respect, Salamon (1998) argues that „to many managers this would represent a substantial and

    serious erosion of their managerial prerogative and control within the organisation‟ (p. 318).

   M anagement information is often incomplete, particularly if it concerns forecasting by extrapolating

    from data which itself may be subject to verification. If such information were to be divulged to

    employee representatives, then a lot of unnecessary time and effort could be spent discussing

    hypothetical situations.

   M uch information is considered confidential and is invariably confined to senior management.

    Disclosure of such information to employee representatives would be considered improper if such

    information was not provided to other managerial grades at the same time.

Self Evaluation Activity 10.8: Items to include in the shopping list

You might have included:

   a pay increase, substantial or otherwise;

   a shorter working week;

   a decrease in the pay differential between skilled and non-skilled workers;

   maternity/paternity arrangements;

   child care and crèche facilities; out-of-school-holiday play schemes;

   improved shift-working allowances;

   improvements to the „equal opportunities‟ procedure;

   specific procedures dealing with harassment and bullying at work;

   a sick pay scheme; and
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                       54

   consultation on redundancies and transfer of business.

Self Evaluation Activity 10.10: Shopping list for the 2004 claim

Because management has not been forthcoming with specific information concerning the company‟s

situation, there is no reason why the pay claim should be influenced by what is already known. If the

union team were to acknowledge the situation on the basis of the unsubstantiated general information

that has already been circulated and formulate the pay claim accordingly, this would not only

compromise the face-to-face negotiations but also undermine the authority of the union negotiating team

vis-à-vis the membership. With this in mind, the „shopping list‟ might include:

   an overall increase on base rates of pay of 5 per cent to take into consideration the pay restraint over

    the past three years;

   a reduction in the normal working week to 37 hours and a commitment to further reductions over the

    next two years to 35 hours;

   consolidation of bonuses into base rates for the purposes of calculating holiday pay and sick pay; and

   22 days annual holiday for all employees.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                       55


Self Evaluation Activity 11.1 Workplace disciplinary offences

Writing about organisations in general, Foucault stated:

   The workplace, the school, the army were subject to a whole micro-penalty of time (lateness,

   absences, interruptions of tasks), of activity (inattention, negligence, lack of zeal), of behaviour

   (impoliteness, disobedience) of speech (idle chatter, insolence), of the body (‘incorrect’ attitudes,

   irregular gestures, lack of cleanliness), of sexuality (impurity, indecency). At the same time, by way of

   punishment, a whole series of procedures was used, from light physical punishment to minor

   deprivations and petty humiliations. It was a question both of making the slightest departures from

   correct behaviour subject to punishment, and of giving a punitive function to apparently indifferent

   elements of the disciplinary apparatus: so that, if necessary, everything might serve to punish the

   slightest thing; each subject finds himself caught in a punishable, punishing universality. (p. 178)

Self Evaluation Activity 11.2: Supervision and discipline

Supervisors could deal with these problems in different ways. Some may prefer to confront problems

directly and quickly by giving subordinates frequent warnings or sack those who did not behave

correctly. One supervisor reported in the above research described his readiness to sack subordinates as

„an acquired taste‟. On the other hand, some supervisors may have difficulty in dealing with these

problems. The research suggests that these supervisors attempt to avoid them, and got depressed when

they had to fire someone. They described their dealings with poor performers as „traumatic‟. These

„employee-oriented‟ supervisors were more sensitive to the needs of subordinates and preferred to give

them time to rectify problems. However, the research demonstrated that departments run by the

employee-oriented supervisors had poorer performance ratings than the departments run by the hard-line

supervisors. While this may contradict the behaviourist position that punishment is not an effective way

to influence or modify behaviour, individuals do learn from others which types of behaviours are

appropriate in particular circumstances. The employee who comes late to work regularly, or who does

not work as hard as colleagues, violates socially established and accepted standards. The punishments
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                     56

used by supervisors can thus be effective where:

          they are perceived as maintaining the accepted social order; and

          they are perceived as legitimate by the „victim‟.

Self Evaluation Activity 11.5: The drowsy employee

Counselling in this case is the more satisfactory method of resolving the problem with the aim of helping

John to overcome his problem. A private talk between John and Alice taking the form of a two-way

discussion should be productive as Alice, who has all the relevant facts and records concerning John’s

recent performance and demeanour, will be in a position to point out the option(s) available to John.

Clearly there should be no element of disciplinary action involved here. However, Alice should be able

to communicate the authority’s policy on parental and paternal leave arrangements, especially as the

relevant provisions of the 2002 Employment Act are now in place. Alice should raise some concerns

about the efficiency of communicating the authority’s policies to employees with superiors. It may be

that John did not want to draw attention to his situation for fear of being ridiculed by male employees –

which would probably be the case in a male dominated environment, despite making excuses for non-

attendance at evening meetings. John should, therefore be encouraged to take some paternity leave as is

his statutory entitlement as a long-serving employee.

Self Evaluation Activity 11.6

The following summary example of the Rover Grou p procedure indicates the appropriate warnings,

who conducts the hearing and what representatives are permitted.


stage            Nature                 Type                   Conducted by         Representative

Stage 1          Unsatisfactory job     Recorded verbal        M anager and other   Appropriate TU rep

Oral             performance or         warning                management rep(s)    or associate

warning          conduct

Stage 2          Significantly short    Investigation          M anager and         Appropriate TU rep

First written    of required            and written            personnel dept.      or associate

warning          standard or failure    warning
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                     57

                 to improve

Stage 3          Serious misconduct     Investigation       M anager and            Appropriate TU rep

Second           or sustained poor      and final           personnel dept          or associate

written          performance            warning/

warning                                 suspension


Stage 4          Sustained poor         Investigation       Senior management       Senior TU rep

Dismissal        performance and/or     and written         personnel dept. reps    or associate

                 misconduct. Gross      notice of

                 misconduct             termination

           Warnings: On some occasions, the offence will be serious enough to warrant only one written

            warning (in effect, the final warning). Warnings may relate to different offences that an

            employee has committed. If this is the case:

   Employers are entitled to take account of the fact that an employee has received a previous warning

   even if that warning related to behaviour of a different kind from that which forms the potential

   ground for dismissal. Thus in deciding to dismiss Mr Curtis for mishandling company property it was

   not improper for his employer to take into account two previous final wr itten warnings. The first

   concerned his relationships with other employees and the second referred to unsatisfactory

   documentation and absenteeism [August Noel v Curtis (1990)]. (p. 71)

Warnings should stipulate the consequences of any other further misconduct or insufficient improvement

in performance, which in the case of final warnings will be dismissal. A sample letter as provided in the

ACAS handbook is given below.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                             58

Dear________                                                                                     Date________

You attended a disciplinary interview on________. I am writing to confirm the decision taken that you

should be given a written/final warning* under the second/third stage* of the Company Disciplinary


This w arning w ill be placed in your personal files but will be disregarded for disciplinary purposes after a

period of________months, provided your conduct** improves/performance reaches a satisfactory level.

          The nature of the unsatisfactory conduct or performance was:

          The conduct or performance is:

          The timescale within which improvement is requir ed is:

          The likely consequence of further misconduct or insufficient improvement is:

           final written warning/dismissal.*

You have the right to appeal against this decis ion (in writing**) to________within________days of

receiv ing this disciplinary warning.

Yours sincerely


** The wordi ng should be amended as appro priate

** Delete if inappropriate

          Withholding pay rises; deductions and fines: Withholding pay rises may be lawful if the

           contract of employment does not refer to pay increases. Deductions and fines are lawful if they

           comply with the 1986 Wages Act and are required by statute and/or the employee has agreed

           to it. Both sanctions can be incorporated within Stage 2 (say) of a procedure.

          Suspension: Usually associated with Stage 3 pending investigation, as with the Rover

           example. Suspension with pay can be costly to the employer, so should be as brief as

           administratively possible.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                    59

        Demotion and transfer: These are common sanctions with employers and can be associated

         with Stage 2 of a procedure if employee performance has not improved. The employer should

         have the contractual authority and/or consent of the employee, and the employee should agree

         to the change, especially where, on grounds of incapability (see below), the only alternative is


        Dismissal with or without notice: Dismissal with notice is the only option after the

         procedural stages have been exhausted. With the exception of gross misconduct, the

         appropriate period of notice or payment in lieu should be granted, according to the provisions

         within the Employment Rights Act (ERA), 1996. Pay ment in lieu must relate to a period no

         shorter than that of the notice to which the employee would be entitled under the ERA or under

         the contract of employment. For example, an employee who has been employed for no less

         than a month and up to two years is entitled to one weeks‟ notice. Thereafter, there is one

         weeks‟ notice for every additional year of employment up to a maximum of twelve years when

         the employee is entitled to twelve weeks‟ notice.

  Dismissal without notice, (also known as summary dismissal), is given in cases of gross

  misconduct. Employees should be told of the nature of the complaint and be given the opportunity to

  state their case. This is followed by a letter confirming the dismissal without notice (see below).

  Summary dismissal should not be confused with instant dismissal (or dismissal „on the spot‟, without

  investigation) which has no legal meaning and is invariably unfair.

  Examples of ACAS recommended letters of dismissal with and without notice are given below.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                       60

                                          Dismissal Without Notice

Dear________                                                                                  Date________

I am w riting to confir m the decision taken at the disciplinary hearing held on________that you be

summarily dismissed w ithout notic e or payment in lieu of notice, in accordance with the Company

Disciplinary Procedure. Your last day of service was________

The reasons for your dismissal are:

You have the right to appeal against this decis ion (in writing*) to________within________days of receiving

this notice of dismissal.

Yours sincerely


*The wor ding should be amende d as appropriate.

                                            Dismissal With Notice

Dear________                                                                                  Date________

On________you were informed in writing that you would be given a final warning in accordance with

Stage________of the Company Disciplinary Procedure. In that letter you were warned that if y our

conduct/performance* did not improve, you were likely to be dismissed.

   At the dis ciplinary hearing held on________it was decided that your conduct/performance* was still

unsatisfactory and that you should be dis missed.

   I am therefore writing to you to confirm the decision that you should be dismissed in accordance with

Stage________of the Company Disciplinary Procedure and that your last day of service with the Company

will be________The reasons for your dis missal are:

You have the right of appeal against this decis ion (in writing**) to________within________days of

receiv ing this notice of dismissal.

Yours sincerely
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                         61


          The wording should be amen ded as appropri ate

** Delete if inappropriate

Self Evaluation Activity 11.7 Three disciplinary cases to consider

Case One: Accident-Prone

In this instance, the firm is influenced by an external organisation (the insurance company), which, to a

certain extent, dictates its terms. When problems such as these arise, it is advisable to take prompt action:

thus, when it was realised that John‟s driving record was deteriorating, action should have been taken.

This could include more training, transfer to shorter distance driving and transfer to non-driving duties.

John was not made aware of the gravity of the situation. There was an absence of monitoring to highlight

the problem and bring it to the attention of senior management. Senior management should then have

instituted action earlier, by, for example, giving John an official warning concerning his future conduct.

Ultimately, the firm had little choice but to dismiss John, but its handling of the dismissal was poor, and

assessed against the ACAS Code recommendations, the firm comes out badly. John was given no right

to be represented and was offered no appeal against the dismissal decision.

Case Two: The alcoholic

Clearly, Chris can be criticised for allowing the situation with Len to develop to such an extent, and for

being inconsistent in his treatment of both Len and Jane. It could be argued that Jane‟s reason for

requesting leave was not a particularly valid one, and that if Chris had not been so preoccupied with Len,

Chris would have had reasonable grounds for refusing Jane‟s request. The staff are obviously aware of

the situation and what they perceive as unduly favourable treatment towards Len which could amount to

condoning Len‟s behaviour, and this weakens Chris‟s standing with the staff. The case demonstrates that

it is important to be consistent in the application of rules to all staff and that managem ent should have

been aware of the situation. Possible courses of action which would be deemed appropriate include:

          a possible reprimand to Chris as his actions undermined his authority in the workplace; and

          disciplinary action against Len, with possibly a final warning stating that future indiscipline
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                       62

          will result in dismissal, to be combined with any medical help if the drink problem is serious.

Case Three: Playing games

Based on an actual case, there are mitigating circumstances. M angers should always be alert to

underlying problems a hitherto hard-working employee such as Sonia may have. In the absence of

counselling, while it was offered, it is not surprising this was not taken up when Sonia revealed to her

union representative during an adjournment of the formal disciplinary hearing that her husband was

having an affair with Sonia’s supervisor, Nina. It was decided to conduct the remainder of the

disciplinary process without Nina, who might herself be disciplined. At the end of the interview process

it was decided that while Janet could be punished for fraudulently falsifying worksheets and claiming

overtime, no punitive action would be taken this time, given Sonia’s previous good record and her

unfortunate domestic situation. Sonia will be required to pay back her overtime monies, and a record

kept on her personal file. She was made aware of counselling services and advised to make an

Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                        63


Self Evaluation Activity 12.1: Examples of sex discrimination

With regard to sex discrimination, the following examples are relevant:


If promotion vacancies are filled solely on the basis of informal selection using a subjective procedure

which excludes women from senior jobs. In one case, a clothing manufacturer employed two trainee

supervisors, one male and one female. The male trainee was offered the post of assistant manager, with

the intention that he takes over the manager‟s job at a later date. The post was never advertised and the

female trainee was not informed of the vacancy (Schofield v. Double Two: 1992).

Sexual harassment

Harassment can take many forms and is a very difficult issue for women to cope with. In the case Van

Den Burghen v. Nabarro Nathanson: 1992, M iss Van Den Burghen, a trainee solicitor had her breasts

squeezed by a male trainee solicitor at a Christmas lunch during which their secretaries presented

solicitors with chocolate penises. She complained to a senior partner, who later told her that following

investigation he considered the matter closed due to lack of witnesses. M iss Van Den Burghen was then

„sent to Coventry‟ by her colleagues and three months later was made redundant.

There are many examples of race discrimination at work of which two will suffice:

Terms of employment

There are many instances where employers discriminate in the terms of employment they provide. In

1993, John Haggas plc, a mill in West Yorkshire, was found to have discriminated against Asian night

shift workers. The night shift was all-Asian and had been threatened with dismissal if they refused to

take on extra duties, whereas this had not happened to the all-white day shift. The Asian workers were

not paid overtime, received four days‟ less holiday a year than white workers, and had no chance of

Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                        64

Racial harassment

Again, there are many examples, although racial harassment has received less attention than sexual

harassment. Use of terms such as „black bastards‟, uttered in the presence of employees constitutes

unlawful harassment. In one case (Mann v. Moody: 1993) a Department of Social Security line manager

made a reference to „Paki shops‟ in the presence of an Asian employee and was held to constitute racial

discrimination. In another case, an employee was subjected to serious racial abuse by his fellow

employees and was called names, had metal bolts thrown at his head, and was branded with a hot


Self Evaluation Activity 12.2: Areas that are still male dominated

2 and 3. Walby (1986) identifies the following areas as still being „male dominated‟:

Paid employment

This remains a key structure in creating disadvantages for women. Nineteenth century regulations

excluded women from whole areas of work altogether, while at the same time permitting women to work

in mines and factories. M ale dominated trade unions and the state ensured that opportunities were

severely restricted. In the 20th century, women, and particularly married women were able to take

employment, but not on equal terms with men, and in recent years the degree of inequality between men

and women, and access to well-rewarded occupations has declined only very slightly. The gender pay

gap has declined somewhat, but women continue to be over represented in low-paid and part-time

employment. In theory, governments since 1946 have supported greater equality in the labour market,

but in practice such policies are not pursued as vigorously as they should be.

Household production

According to Walby (1990), patriarchal dominance was common in the household; men would exploit

women by benefiting from women‟s unpaid labour. This was most marked during the 19 th century when

most women were excluded from the labour market. In the 21 st century, however, exploitation of this

nature has declined as women spend more time in paid work, although it has not disappeared. Women

who are housewives spend as much time on domestic labour as they did decades ago, and women with

children who leave their husbands are disadvantaged in a patriarchally structured labour market and are

unlikely to find a job with reasonable pay so that „liberation from marriage is then usually a movement

into poverty‟ (Walby, 1990, p. 56). It is likely that this situation will persist well into this century.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                         65


The culture of Western society has consistently distinguished between men and women and has expected

different types of behaviour from them. During the 19 th century, womens‟ confinement to domesticity

was thought to refine their femininity and increase their sexual attractiveness to men. The escape from

the confines of domesticity for some women at least during the 20 th and 21s t centuries has replaced one

form of cultural patriarchy by another. For example, the spread of pornography, Walby argues, increases

the freedom of men while reducing that of women by encouraging the degradation of women by men

and promoting harassment and sexual violence.

The state

State policies relating to gender have changed considerably since the 19 th century. There has, according

to Walby (1990), been:

   the cessation of legal backing to exclusionary (discriminatory) practices in employment; the

   increased ease of divorce and financial provision for non-wage earners; the ending of state backing

   to exclusionary practices in education and the removal of most forms of censorship of pornography;

   the decriminalisation of contraception and abortion under most circumstances; and minor changes in

   the law making it marginally easier for a woman to leave a violent man. (p. 87)

State policies are no longer directed at confining women to the private sphere of the home, but there has

been little progress made in improving women‟s position in the public sphere. Womens‟ pay is still

lower than men‟s over a whole range of occupations and equal opportunities legislation is not often

enforced. Women in one-parent families get little state benefit and women have been harmed by the

greater availability of pornography. While the state is not so manifestly patriarchal as it used to be, it

still, according to Walby, does little to protect women from patriarchal power in society.

Self Evaluation Activity 12.3: Criticisms of human capital approaches

Witz (1993), in criticising human capital approaches, argues that even when women do work

continuously without taking career breaks, they still tend to end up in lower-paid and lower-status jobs.

Rees (1992), who reviewed research within the American context discovered that about half the pay

differentials between men and women could be explained in terms of human capital theory, and also

ignores the causes of inequality between male and female employees located within the structure of the
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                       66

labour market.

Self Evaluation Activity 12.4: Changes relevant to McDowell’s argument

The changes relevant to M cDowell‟s argument include:

         the move away from mass production towards flexible production of small batches of

          specialised products;

         the subsequent employment of a highly skilled „core‟ group of workers within an organisation

          who are capable of using their skills to produce a wide variety of products; and

         the use of part-time, short-term contract and/or contracted-out labour to perform relatively

          unskilled work.

M cDowell argues that these changes are reflected in the increased use of part -time female labour and the

reduction in the employment of males in full-time permanent jobs. Certainly during the past twenty -five

years or so, the decline in male employment has been more than matched by the increase in female

employment – a process described as the „feminisation‟ of the labour market. As we have explained

above, women have been employed in increasing numbers within secondary labour markets, and

particularly within the service sector of the economy as women are traditionally cheaper to employers

and more easily dispensable than male employees. Owing to the „need‟ for employ ers to cut costs and to

have a more flexible labour force in order to cope with repeated recessions and increased competition,

M cDowell suggests that part-time flexible work has not been created in response to „demand‟ on the part

of employees, whether men or women. Rather, many have had part-time or temporary jobs imposed on

them or have taken them for want of alternatives while continuing to seek full-time and stable work.

Self Evaluation Activity 12.6: Problems of recruitment from ethnic minorities

The M etropolitan Police Force, (and police forces generally) have been criticised for their reluctance to

recruit from ethnic minorities. For example, the CRE (1999) expressed disappointment that the latest

version of the initial police recruitment test „had a statistically significant adverse impact on ethnic

minority applicants‟ (p. 9). Within many police forces accusations have been made of „institutional

racism‟, both within the forces and in their treatment of members of ethnic minorities within the

community. The M etropolitan Police is keen to dispel (however justified or unjustified) its image of

racism. One method of doing this is to publicise „positive action‟ initiatives in recruitment and
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                         67

elsewhere. In February 1999, the M etropolitan Police decided to make its most controversial attempt to

recruit ethnic minorities into the service:

   A group of Brixton rappers are producing a sound track and video for the Met that both criticises the

   police and calls on black people to join it. The idea is that of music producer and filmmaker Charles

   Bailey. The soundtrack has already been made, and filming with a cast of around 100 extras will start

   shortly. Bailey says he is putting the package together because he does not believe that the black

   community will receive the policing they deserve until they are properly represented within the

   service . . . Currently there are around 900 ethnic minority officers, or 3 per cent of the service, when

   a representative figure would be six times that number.

                                     Rap attack

                                     Now if we the ethnic minorities

                                     Want security, safety and unity

                                     Let’s get in . . .

                                     Let’s get unified


                                     Strictly dressed to address

                                     No contest

                                     ’Cos we invest in justice

                                     No stress

                                     Dressed in blue to fill the gap


                                                                                 (The Guardian, February 8, 1999)

The public inquiry into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence and subsequent M cPherson Report has

been the impetus behind the Race Relations (Amendment) Act. The report‟s emphasis on the widespread

presence of „institutional racism‟ left the government no alternative but to make the public sector and

services, including the police more accountable for the promotion of race equality in all areas, including,

of course, recruitment.

Self Evaluation Activity 12.7: Equal work for equal pay

         One of the most obvious and clear-cut instances is where a woman works alongside a man and
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                      68

          performs exactly the same work as the man. For example, a woman operating a garment -

          making machine alongside a man operating the same type of machine; or a woman working on

          the assembly-line with men doing the same job of dealing with the same items; or in an office

          performing the same type of clerical tasks as a male office worker. In all these instances

          women, according to the Act, should receive the same amount of pay as their male


         A less obvious circumstance is where a woman is performing tasks which are rated as

          equivalent to (but are different from) the tasks being undertaken by male colleagues. In this

          instance, the woman would have to demonstrate that she is performing tasks rated as

          equivalent to those performed by men. Equivalence rating is facilitated if the company has a

          job evaluation scheme in operation and the woman‟s job is given the same rating as a different

          job done by a man.

Self Evaluation Activity 12.8: Less favourable treatment

         Dale (1995) provides the following case examples:

        ‘Less favourable treatment’ involves some detriment to the person concerned. In Peake v.

        Automotive Products Ltd (1978) women were allowed to leave the factory five minutes before

        male employees. The Court of Appeal refused to hold that this was sex discrimination, as the

        employer’s motive was to prevent the women from being jostled, and it would be very wrong,

        according to Lord Denning, if the law was ‘to do away with the chivalry and courtesy which we

        expect mankind to give to womankind’. Fortunately, subsequent cases took a more robust

        approach: in M inistry of Defence v. Jeremiah (1980) the Court of Appeal held that it was sex

        discrimination to stipulate that only men could work in the ‘colour-bursting shell shop’ because

        the women’s hair would be messed up. This counted as less favourable treatment. In Gill and

        Coote v El Vinos Co. Ltd (1983) it was held to be less favourable treatment to refuse to serve

        women at a bar; and in R. v. Birmingham City Council ex parte EOC (1989) the loss of a chance

        of a grammar school place was held to be less favourable treatment.

         Treatment on the grounds of sex does not mean that the employer necessarily intends to

          discriminate as motive is irrelevant. Clark e cites the case of James v. Eastleigh Borough

          Council (1990) in which a swimming pool allowed women over the age of 60 free admission,
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                     69

          whereas men had to pay until they reached 65 (based on the state pension age). The Lords held

          that this was unlawful sex discrimination, and the nature of the Council‟s motive was

          irrelevant: the test for sex discrimination was whether the men would have been treated

          differently but for their sex. In Hurley v. Mustoe (1981) a woman with three young children

          was refused a job because the employer believed that mothers were unreliable workers. This

          rule only applied to women with young children, and therefore constituted direct

          discrimination. M en with young children were not, in practice, excluded. In this case the

          employer acted on the basis of stereotyped assumptions, instead of looking at the particular

          individuals and their circumstances.

Self Evaluation Activity 12.9: Race discrimination cases

In R v. Commission for Racial Equality ex parte Westminster City Council (1985), the Council appointed

a black refuse collector, but then withdrew his appointment because there was concern that the other

(white) refuse collectors would take industrial action. This was racial discrimination, because the

decision was taken on racial grounds, even though the motive was to avoid industrial action.

   Discrimination on grounds of national origin is discrimination on racial grounds within s. 3(1) of the

Act. In Northern Joint Police Board v. Power (1997), an Englishman claimed that he had not been short

listed for the post of Chief Constable of the Northern Constabulary because he was English rather than

Scots. The claim was upheld.

   In the case of Weatherfield Ltd t/a Van and Truck Rentals v. Sargent (1998), M rs Sargent, a white

European, was instructed to inform „coloureds and Asians‟ that no vehicles were available. She felt she

had been put in an intolerable position and consequently resigned.

Self Evaluation Activities 12.10: The legislative approach

As we have seen Britain, in common with other EU nations, has adopted the so-called „legislative

approach‟ which incorporates EU Articles and Directives. The legislative approach has certainly been

effective in raising the profile of workplace sex (and race) discrimination and in encouraging

organisations to adopt equal opportunities policies and practices. However, as Howe (1999) points out:

   In areas of both sex discrimination and race discrimination, criticisms have been voiced about the

   overall effectiveness of the legislative approach. The difficulties and costs involved in bringing cases
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                      70

   to an industrial tribunal and the delays in hearing cases prevent many victims of discrimination from

   pursuing their struggles. Industrial tribunals, which were originally designed to be less formal and

   more accessible to individuals, have become increasingly burdened with bureaucracy and case law

   complications (and) the supremacy of EU law also makes the validity of industrial tribunal judgments

   open to question, further delaying the outcomes. Investigations needed to pursue an equal pay claim

   are costly and difficult to enact, despite some notable successes. (pp. 428–9)

   The persistence of inequality and discrimination within the workplace where women continue to lag

behind men is of concern to the EOC (1999) which believes that „measures to tackle structural

discrimination against women in the workplace are needed to achieve equality at work and help to create

a competitive workforce‟.

Self Evaluation Activity 12.12: Sexual harassment

The EC Code of Practice dealing with sexual harassment defines it as ‘unwanted conduct of a sexual

nature or other conduct based on sex affecting the dignity of women and men at work’ and includes

unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct which creates an intimidating, hostile or humiliating

working environment. In its most recent survey of 65 employers, the IRS (1996) found that the following

actions constituted sexual harassment:

        Demands for sexual favours in return for promotion, etc.

        Sexual assault.

        Unwanted physical contact such as unnecessary touching, patting or pinching of another

         employee‟s body.

        Unwelcome sexual advances or propositions.

        Offensive flirtations.

        Continued suggestions for social activity outside the workplace after it has been made clear

         that such suggestions are unwelcome.

        Derogatory remarks which are gender-related.

        Offensive comments about appearance and dress which are gender-related.

        Suggestive remarks, innuendoes or lewd comments.

        Leering/„eyeing-up‟ a person‟s body.

        Sexist or patronising behaviour.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                      71

         Display of sexually aggressive pin-ups or calendars.

   Sexual harassment is a common and widespread phenomenon. The Industrial Society (1993) revealed

that 54 per cent of working women experience sexual harassment in the workplace while the IRS (1996)

survey found that harassment was equally widespread with 54 per cent of organisations reporting such

cases during 1995. There is, however, good reason for arguing that harassment cases are under-reported

to a very large extent, and therefore that the incidence of harassment is much more widespread than

reported cases suggest. One reason for the reported increase in cases is the existence of sexual

harassment policies; organisations without such policies may encourage a climate of intimidation which

may make it difficult for victims to come forward (Rubenstein, 1996).

Self Evaluation Activity 12.13: Reasons for introducing EO policies

In the second part of their survey, IRS (1996) identified four main reasons for introducing policies.

These were:

         the need to ensure equal opportunities at work (cited by 95 per cent of respondents);

         to avoid legal action and potential costs such as increased absenteeism, higher sickness levels

          and lower productivity (cited by 66 per cent of respondents);

         in response to developments within the European Union cited by 18 per cent of respondents;


         to aid recruitment and retention, cited by 14 per cent of employers.

   No employer mentioned trade union pressure as a reason for introducing harassment policies.

Self Evaluation Activities 12.15: Reasons for developing EO policies

Perhaps the main reason for developing equal opportunities policies is that such policies make sound

business sense. Discrimination in employment can be potentially costly to the employer, particularly as a

result of the lifting of ceilings on compensation levels for sex and race discrimination. In addition,

discriminatory recruitment policies could mean that the best person for the job is not being appointed.

Training policies which are discriminatory means that abilities and potential of employees are being

Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                        72


Self Evaluation Activity 13.1:              What is fair dismissal?

For an employer to dismiss an employee he or she must have a valid reason for dismissing the employee

and act reasonably in treating that reason as sufficient to justify dismissal. Note that the condition of

reasonableness does not apply in cases where the dismissal is unquestionably unfair. Valid reasons for

dismissal, identified by the legislation and referred to in Chapter 10, include conduct and capability.

The three other main reasons referred to in the legislation are:

         Redundancy: In general, an employee can have no grounds for claiming unfair dismissal due to

          redundancy (that is because the employer had no work or insufficient work for the employee to

          do). There are, however, some circumstances in which it is unfair to make an employee

          redundant (see below and Part Two of this chapter).

         A statutory requirement: This may prevent the employment continuing in cases where driving

          a vehicle is the main job requirement but where the driver has lost his driving licence and there

          is no other suitable job available.

         Some other substantial reason: In addition to the above reasons, an employer may have other

          reasons for dismissing employees. For example an employee who was taken on as a temporary

          replacement for a worker who was returning after being suspended for medical reasons can be

          fairly dismissed, provided that it had been clearly explained to the employee concerned that the

          job was only temporary.

Self Evaluation Activity 13.2: Is this constructive dismissal?

The Employment Appeals Tribunal held that the employee was entitled to treat himself as constructively

dismissed by reason of the employer‟s conduct in requiring him to transfer. The employer acted

unreasonably, despite the existence of the wide mobility clause, and this constituted a breach of contract

which entitled M r Akhtar to claim constructive dismissal.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                        73

Self Evaluation Activity 13.3: Two dismissal incidents

At first sight, these cases seem clear-cut enough. Both are concerned with „gross misconduct‟ which

warranted fair dismissal. However, the substantive merits criterion may involve taking into account

mitigating factors such as length of service, previous disciplinary record and any explanation or excuse.

It is also important for the employer to maintain consistency when applying disciplinary rules so that

employees who behave in similar ways should receive the same punishment. In the first case, the Court

of Appeal upheld a finding of unfair dismissal on the grounds that there was evidence that other workers

had been guilty of similar offences but these had not been met by dismissal.

Inconsistency of treatment in relation to fighting at work is also demonstrated by the second case.

Here, the employment tribunal dismissed the applicant‟s complaint, but in doing so disregarded the

inconsistencies in treatment on the grounds that the relevant decision in the various cases were taken by

different members of management. This view was overturned by the Employment Appeals Tribunal

(EAT) who held that it is inconsistency of treatment by the employer rather than by individual line

managers that is the crucial question:

   Because an employer is acting in one case through his servants A and B, and the other case through

   his servants C and D, it is no answer to a complaint of unfair dismissal to say that there were

   different employees considering the seriousness of the two alleged cases of misconduct. The

   consistency must be consistency as between all employees of the employer. (Quoted in Painter and

   Puttick, p. 195)

Self Evaluation Activity 13.4: Testing the validity of a claim for unfair

dismissal/redundancy payments

         If the answer to question 1 is „no‟, then the claim fails; if the answer is „yes‟, then the applicant

          may proceed.

         If the answer to question 2 is „no‟, then the applicant may have a claim for wrongful dismissal,

          but this is unlikely; if the answer is „yes‟, then the applicant may proceed.

         If the answer to question 3 is „no‟, then the claim is successful and the applicant has remedies

          (see below); if the answer is „yes‟, then the applicant can proceed further.

         If the answer to question 4 is „no‟, then the claim is successful and the applicant has remedies;

          if the answer is „yes‟ then the claim is finally rejected.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                      74

Self Evaluation Activity 13.5: Reasons for making employees redundant

Salamon (1998) suggests four main causes of redundancy:

         structural decline of older, less efficient or technologically developed manufacturing


         decrease in the level of economic activity of an organisation, a single industry or the

          economy as a whole;

         technological change requiring less labour to provide a given level of output or service; and

         reorganisation of the work situation to obtain a more efficient use of existing plant and

          machinery and to reduce costs (p. 562).

The reasons for redundancy may have changed over the years. Blyton and Turnbull (1998), for example,

argue that:

   . . . whereas redundancies in the past were overwhelmingly the consequence of economic difficulties,

   latterly there has been a tendency for redundancies to be announced as a cost-cutting measure even

   at times when the business and economic outlook are buoyant (Capelli, 1995). According to Capelli,

   a major reason for this is that cutting workforce numbers – euphemistically described as

   ‘downsizing’ – is invariably seen by stock markets as a significant cost saving and a likely source of

   improved profitability. The upshot of this is that redundancy announcements can improve share

   prices. (p. 55)

Self Evaluation Activity 13.6: The ‘contract test’

M r Pink‟s claim for unfair dismissal was rejected by the tribunal which held that he was „redundant‟.

The tribunal reached this conclusion on the basis of his formal employment as a making and finishing

room operative, and on that basis there had been a diminution in the employers‟ requirements for such

staff. The Employment Appeals Tribunal upheld the decision, saying it was irrelevant that there had been

no diminution in the requirements for the sort of work Mr Pink was in practice doing most of the time.

Self Evaluation Activity 13.7:             Two cases to consider

The two men‟s claims failed, though on different grounds, and they also failed before the EAT. The
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                          75

Court of Appeal decided in their favour but gave leave of appeal to the House of Lords. The Lords held

that employees who are dismissed by the transferor of an undertaking, and then re-engaged by the

transferee on different but agreed terms, are not entitled to retain the benefit of their previous terms of

employment, thereby overturning the decision of the Court of Appeal.

Self Evaluation Activity 13.8:             Criteria for redundancy policies and


The important criteria to be considered in relation to a redundancy policy and procedure are:

         An opening policy statement which acknowledges the possibility of redundancy while at the

          same time providing a commitment to job security. The statement will also recognise that the

          demand for labour fluctuates owing to technological and other changes.

         Stress the importance of consultation with a view to avoiding redundancies in the first place

          such as a ban on recruitment, re-training and re-deployment of surplus staff. Although not

          particularly relevant to white collar workers and not mentioned in the LETUGO policy, other

          considerations might include restricting the use of subcontracted labour, casual and temporary

          staff: temporary lay-offs, short-time working and even job sharin g might be considered. Early

          retirement may also be considered as an option, but those affected should have a financial

          inducement to encourage them to take up this option.

         If redundancy, despite making alternative arrangements specified above, is nevertheless

          inevitable, representatives should then be provided with details concerning the reasons etc. (see

          above policy) for the redundancy. However, it should be stressed that the option of voluntary

          redundancy should be exercised. In general terms, the voluntary redundancy option is the

          most commonly used option of dealing with redundancy and policies should emphasise this


         If the voluntary redundancy option has been exhausted, perhaps because the wrong type of

          employees were volunteering or not enough employees volunteered, and there is still a need to

          make redundancies, the next stage would be to make compulsory redundancies. The

          legislation considered earlier, places a requirement upon the employer to notify all employees

          that compulsory redundancies will take place and that selection for redundancy has been

          provisionally made. Selection criteria are important and are considered in greater detail below.
Emp loy ment Relations 2e by Ed Rose                                                                     76

         The policy will also provide information concerning the proposed redundancy payments or

          compensation. Again, as we have seen, there is a statutory entitlement, but many employers, as

          with the above example, will provide compensation in excess of the statutory entitlement „to

          ease the trauma that redundancy can cause or, . . . to encourage volunteers to come forward‟

          (Gennard and Judge, 1998, p. 246).

Some policies will make it clear that the company will provide support for displaced staff such as

counselling and „outplacement‟ services.

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