- Trade unions in the United Kingdom
Trade unions in the United Kingdom were first decriminalised under the recommendation of a
Royal Commissionin 1867, which agreed that the establishment of the organisations was to the advantage of both employers and employees. Legalised in 1871, the Trade Union Movement sought to reform socio-economic conditions for working men in British industries, and the Unions' search for this led to the creation of a Labour Representation Committee which effectively formed the basis for today's Labour Party, which still has extensive links with the Trade Union Movement in Britain. Margaret Thatcher's governments weakened the powers of the unions in the 1980s, in particular by making it more difficult to strike legally, and some within the British trades union movement criticised Tony Blair's Labour government for not reversing some of Thatcher's changes. Most British unions are members of the TUC, the Trades Union Congress(founded in 1867), or where appropriate, the Scottish Trades Union Congressor the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, which are the country's principal national trade union centres.
The decline in numbers of members, very steep in the 1980s (from 13million in 1979) seems to have stopped now, and numbers have stayed around 7.3 million since the year 2000. This means that trade unions remain among the biggest organizations in the country.
No doubt the majority of trade unionists now are office workers or shop workers - industrial workers have become a minority. Initially many writers considered that such white collar employees would necessarily be less militant than blue collar workers.Fact|date=May 2007 The rise in strike action by white collar workers in the 1970s contradicted this thesis.
Infobox Union by Country
country = The United Kingdom
national = TUC, STUC, ICTU
Department of Trade and Industry
Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992
membership_number = 7.3 million
ILOmember = Yes
ILO-87date = 27 June 1949
ILO-98date = 30 June 1950Unions in Britain were subject to often severe repression until 1824, but were already widespread in cities such as
London. Workplace militancy had also manifested itself as Luddismand had been prominent in struggles such as the 1820 Risingin Scotland, in which 60,000 workers went on a general strike, which was soon crushed. From 1830 on, attempts were made to set up national general unions, most notably Robert Owen's Grand National Consolidated Trades Unionin 1834, which attracted a range of socialists from Owenites to revolutionaries. That organization played a part in the protests after the Tolpuddle Martyrs' case, but soon collapsed.
In the later 1830s and 1840s, trade unionism was overshadowed, to some extent, by political activity. Of particular importance was
Chartism, the aims of which were supported by most socialists, although none appear to have played leading roles.
More permanent trade unions were established from the 1850s, better resourced but often less radical. The
London Trades Councilwas founded in 1860, and the Sheffield Outragesspurred the establishment of the Trades Union Congressin 1868. The legal status of trade unions in the United Kingdom was established by a Royal Commissionin 1867, which agreed that the establishment of the organizations was to the advantage of both employers and employees. Unions were legalized in 1871.
Principles of Political Economy" (1871) John Stuart Millexpressed some of the more liberal sentiment towards unions of the time.
"If it were possible for the working classes, by combining among themselves, to raise or keep up the general rate of wages, it needs hardly be said that this would be a thing not to be punished, but to be welcomed and rejoiced at. Unfortunately the effect is quite beyond attainment by such means. The multitudes who compose the working class are too numerous and too widely scattered to combine at all, much more to combine effectually. If they could do so, they might doubtless succeed in diminishing the hours of labour, and obtaining the same wages for less work. They would also have a limited power of obtaining, by combination, an increase of general wages at the expense of profits." ["
Principles of Political Economy" (1871) [http://www.efm.bris.ac.uk/het/mill/book5/bk5ch10 Book V, Ch.10] , para. 5]
It is notable that a similar theoretical stance is taken by orthodox economists to this day. [see, on the more conservative end of the spectrum,
Richard Posner, "Economic Analysis of Law" (2001) 5th Ed., Ch.11, p.349 ff.]
The strongest unions of the mid-Victorian period were unions of skilled workers such as the
Amalgamated Society of Engineers. Trade unionism amongst semi-skilled and unskilled workers made little progress until the emergence of the New Unionsin the late 1880s. Unions played a prominent role in the creation of the Labour Representation Committee which effectively formed the basis for today's Labour Party, which still has extensive links with the trade union movement in Britain.
The years 1910-14 witnessed serious industrial unrest and an enormous increase in trade union membership, which affected all industries, though to differing extents.
World War Iresulted in a further increase in union membership, as well as widespread recognition of unions and their increased involvement in management.
Trade unions in Britain experienced a serious decline from the time of the election of
Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government in 1979. At that point the level of union participation in the UK was around 80% of the workforce. By 1997, that number had declined to 30%, most of which was in the public sector. Union participation in the private sector hovers around 12% of the workforce.
Trades Union Congress
British labour law
*The Trades Union Congress website [http://www.tuc.org.uk website]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Economic history of the United Kingdom — The economic history of the United Kingdom deals with the history of the economy of the United Kingdom from the creation of the Kingdom of Great Britain on May 1st, 1707, with the political union of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of… … Wikipedia
Social structure of the United Kingdom — The social structure of the United Kingdom has historically been highly influenced by the concept of social class, with the concept still affecting British society in the early 21st century. Although definitions of social class in the United… … Wikipedia
Construction industry of the United Kingdom — The construction industry of the United Kingdom contributed gross value of £64,747 million to the UK economy in 2004. The industry employed around 2.2 million people in the fourth quarter of 2009. There were around 194,000 construction… … Wikipedia
Israel lobby in the United Kingdom — The Israel lobby in the United Kingdom is a term used to describe the loose coalition of groups and individuals who attempt to influence British foreign policy in support of Israel and its policies. Various groups in the United Kingdom lobby on… … Wikipedia
Civil liberties in the United Kingdom — have a long and formative history. This is usually considered to have begun with the English legal charter the Magna Carta of 1215, following its predecessor the English Charter of Liberties, a landmark document in English legal history. Judicial … Wikipedia
May 1922 in the United Kingdom — See also: April 1922 in the United Kingdom, June 1922 in the United Kingdom, and the Timeline of British history. Contents 1 The Budget introduced 2 Debate 3 Sir Eric Geddes on the Budget … Wikipedia
March 1922 in the United Kingdom — See also: February 1922 in the United Kingdom, April 1922 in the United Kingdom, and the Timeline of British history. Contents 1 Chancellor of Exchequer s Speech 2 Outrages in Ireland 3 Irish Free State Bill passed … Wikipedia
April 1922 in the United Kingdom — See also: March 1922 in the United Kingdom, May 1922 in the United Kingdom, and the Timeline of British history. Attitude of the UnionsAt the beginning of April the outlook in the engineering and shipbuilding disputes was very dark. On the 4th… … Wikipedia
Child care in the United Kingdom — is supported by a combination of rights at work, public sector provision and private companies. Child care is usually undertaken by the parents, and more often the mother who takes leave from employment. Early childhood education in a creche or… … Wikipedia
Digital radio in the United Kingdom — A typical DAB digital radio receiver with the Digital Radio Development Bureau DAB digital radio marketing logo In the United Kingdom, the roll out of digital radio is proceeding since test transmissions were started by the BBC in 1990. The UK… … Wikipedia