Are Trade Unions a "Thing of the Past"? Discuss the Pros and Cons of Trade Unions from an Employee Perspective.
“Historically, trade unions were a vital concomitant of the process of industrialization and political liberalization in most countries. As their influence grew to unprecedented heights after the Second World War, social theorists saw them as a key ingredient of the capitalist economy and social democracy” (Gospel and Wood 2003, p.2). Throughout the years, trade union density and membership in Britain, as well as the proportion of the workforce covered by collective bargaining, have declined significantly. Nevertheless, trade unions have strongly influenced developments at the national level, including minimum wage campaigns and union recognition procedures (Gospel and Wood 2003, p.1). However, can unions still be “perceived as critical
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For a long time the unions aimed to expand the scope of their collective bargaining power. Despite this, in the 1980s and 1990s, management successfully restricted union power and the scope of collective bargaining through bypassing unions and approaching individual workers (Kessler and Bayliss 1998, p.180). Unions fought back by publicising the battles (e.g. in the newspaper industry at Wapping), however unsuccessfully. Furthermore, management’s move from a collective to an individual, more participative approach marked a growth of HRM; it embodied open communication and compensation for accepting changes, which earned employees’ willingness to accept changes (Kessler and Bayliss 1998, p.182). Additionally, the use of PRP schemes in public and private sectors aided the process; it has succeeded to penetrate both sectors, despite mixed trade unions’ reactions (Kessler and Bayliss 1998, p.183). Thus, unions exercised very limited collective bargaining powers, and their efforts resulted in maintaining wages just ahead of the cost of living in public and private sectors; unfortunately, the rather trivial wage increases in the private sector came at a cost of dismissing employees (Kessler and Bayliss 1998, p.183). The above clearly demonstrates unions’ inability to effectively negotiate with employers over wages, which in turn failed to safeguard members’ jobs. It can be argued, that unions