In recent years especially around the 1970 when the conservative party came into power it brought about a decline in the recognition of the trade unions in the UK due to different Acts that were introduced. This was more prominent in the private sector especially the new organisations and some of the old ones who preferred to have negotiations with individuals themselves instead of having the negotiations with the unions. One of the things that happened during this time is the introduction of personnel in organisations and this later grew to become Human Resource Management (HRM).HRM have had considerable number of effects on the way negotiations have been carried out in organisations.
The HRM department has influenced the negotiations of wage and terms of employment with the employer, although the HR manager works directly for the organisation their responsibilities is with the employees. They try to negotiate the best outcomes for the employees in order them to keep them satisfied. In the private sector, Britain has moved away from a negotiation-based and towards a more information and consultation-based system of employee representation.Employees now feel that most organisations are free from conflict, things are in harmony with each other without confusion, this is most times the thinking of the working class.
They tend to see themselves in a particular group without looking at the big picture. Employees feel they can identify with the employer needs and power since the society has already placed each person in his or her place. Workers feel the employer is on their side and have a unitarist approach to working life, they feel they can trust the employer and that their interest are not distinct since they are working towards the same goal.The idea that unions and employers can work together is far fetched, they both represent contrasting ideas that does not allow this to be possible. Employer’s main aim is to maximise profits and that of the trade union is to get the best deals on working conditions of its members, this makes any decision that is made to be filled with a lot of strain. A lot of union leaders are totally against this idea and those who advocated for partnership were removed and replaced by other militant ones. Although a lot of improvements to the working conditions of workers have improved over the years due to partnership it is now beginning to loosing its foot hold.
Although was seen a couple of years ago when the union membership started to increase again, it did not hold steady and the numbers are seen to be dropping. This can be related to the mergers and acquisition that was going on in the economy. This can be especially seen in the Jewish Bakers and Sheffield Wool Shearers union where the membership has dropped. Unions are now about 11 from the 800 that they were a couple of years ago and can account for 3/4 of their 250,000 members from about 800 to 226. Employers are also not in support of this idea because then they have to start worrying about bigger unions who at the end cost them much more than they were willing to part with.The availability of funds is dependent on the amount of money that the union would be able to use to service the funds that it has to dispose. Unions with few members are not able to offer these services to their members and members who see where they can get this tend to move to those unions The only way that unions can get new members is for them to recruit them.
Most of the new organisations are anti union, this is because they have seen what the impact of union would be to their organisation; they developed ways by which they negotiate with their employees without the interference of a third party and the employees most times feel that they are getting fairer deals. The power that the trade unions are claiming to have is non existent because even with the Labour government in power they have not still being able to reverse most of the anti union laws put in place by the conservative party.Trade unions felt that the reason why the number of their members was not growing was because they were not going out to look for new members; this could be attributed to the fact that no one really likes doing this kind of job. This brought about the rise in the use of professional body that their main aim was to organise new groups for the unions. The main reason why people joined unions was to be able to negotiate pay, but in 1990 when the closed shop was abolished it saw to the level of unions members dropping considerably and this affected their bargaining power of the union. This can be seen by the level to which the wage premium has dropped since the mid 1990s and by 2001 it was seen to have disappeared and the level by which the unions have any control over this decline is very limited because of the new EU Directives.One more thing that is happening to union is the fact that they were not quick to make themselves known to the younger generation of workers and this was one of the things that caused their decline. By the Mid 1980 only about one-fifth of organisations that were about 10 years recognised any kind of union and this figures did not change much by 1998 were only about one-fourth of organisations about 10 years recognised any form of unions.
The idea that both the employer and the worker have the same objective in mind is far fetched, employees only aim and purpose of working is to get as much money for as little service that they can do while the employer goal is to maximise profits and pay as little for the services provided by the employees. The ideology between these two parties is pluralist.Employees have learnt over the years that they are unable to trust employers on their promises especially in cases where they do not have it written down. Employers are only out for one person; which is them. Employees that feel that they are able to negotiate with the HR manager have been seen to have lost most of the big fights especially during pay negotiations. The idea that each employee speaks for him self has brought about the employer not recognising their demands effectively, the effects of one employee advocating is not seen as a daunting threat to the employer and this allows for them to disregard their complains.Although most employees feel that they are better off without unions, their working conditions negotiations have worsened.
Standing together has one body is better than standing alone. It may sometimes be argued that the HR manager is an employee of the organisation and would not want to negotiate deals that would be unfavourable to the employer. The HR manager is always on the side of the organisation.According to John Kelly there are long ways of decline and success in trade unions, Labour movement do not grow slowly even though there are times of union growth that came in a short period of time(1960’s and 1970’s) and also towards the end of the second World War to the 1980s. Unions grow when there is an upsurge and this is often because of the changes in the economy.
If there is going to a rebirth it would not come by just organising a few people, unions grow quickly in short periods of time and most times it is through militancy.REFERENCES:Are Trade Unions a Way Forward, http://eurofound.europa.eu/eiro/1997/05/inbrief/uk9705131n.
html BAIN, G.S., (1986), Industrial Relations in Britain, 4th Edition, Basil Blackwell Ltd, USA BBC News, Trade Union Long Decline, http://news.bbc.co.
uk/2/hi/business/3526917.stm FOSH, P., and HEERY, E., Trade Unions and their Members: Studies in Union Democracy and Organisation (1990) 1st Edition, Macmillan, London.
FEATHER, V., The Essence of Trade Unionism: A Background Book, (1971) 2nd Edition, The Bodley Head Ltd, Great Britain http://www.dti.gov.uk/files/file12445.pdf Assessed 28th March 2007