People - Trade Unions And Employment Law

Revision notes on trade unions and employment law for A2 Business Studies.

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  • Created by: Emma Rudd
  • Created on: 25-03-08 16:29
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People and Organisations
Trade Unions and Employment Law
Trade Unions
A Trade Union is an organisation, which employees join to gain greater power and
security at work. Collective bargaining is more effective than individual bargaining.
Trade Union Numbers and Memberships
Mergers between unions have resulted in a smaller number of larger unions operating in
the UK. Trade unions are normally organised on a regional basis, each region has a
regional office staffed by full-time union employees (called organisers or officers). The
region is made up of a number of branches and each branch has an elected shop steward.
The shop steward communicates with management on behalf of the union member's and
reports back to member's regarding management decisions.
Objectives and Functions of Trade Unions
Most trade unions in the UK have similar objectives. These focus on improving the
economic position of their members by fulfilling the following objectives
Maximising Pay
Unions engage in collective bargaining to provide their members with the highest
possible pay rates
Achieving Safe and Secure Working Conditions
Attaining Job Security
Participating in and Influencing Decisions in the Workplace
Trade unions may achieve this through collective bargaining or through having
representatives on work councils and other employer-employee committees.
In addition many unions have social objectives such as lobbying for higher social security
benefits, improved employment legislation and improved quality provision by the NHS.
Trade unions achieve their objectives by carrying out a range of functions to the
benefit of their members
Their most important and time-consuming function is protecting member's
interest over issues such as discrimination, unfair dismissal and health and safety
They negotiate pay and conditions for their members through collective
Trade unions provide their members with a range of personal services including
legal advice, insurance, education, training and financial advice.
Union Density
Union density is a term that refers to the proportion of a workforce that belongs to a
trade union, this varies considerably form industry to industry. It also varies in relation
to age younger employees are less likely to be members of trade unions.
When a business has a relatively high union density there are a number of implications
for the management of the business.
Decisions made by the business are more likely to be challenged, causing a more
cautious approach by managers
Decision-making is likely to become more centralised creating common company
policies in the field of industrial relations.
The management is more likely to have to reveal information about the company
to trade union representatives.

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Decline in Trade Union Power
Declining memberships and falling numbers of unions have occurred steadily. One result
is that today's unions are more general and represent a wider range of skills.
There are a number of causes for a decline in trade unions. For example acts of
parliaments that have gradually limited the power and influence trade unions have.
The changing structure of the industry has also contributed to the reduction of trade
union influence.…read more

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Non-binding arbitration involves a neutral third party making an award to settle
a dispute that the parties concerned can accept or not.
2. Binding arbitration means that the parties to the dispute have to take the
award of the arbitrator.
2. Pendulum arbitration is a binding form of arbitration in which the arbitrator
has to decide entirely for one side or the other. It is not an option to reach a
compromise and select some middle ground.…read more

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Providing impartial information and advice on employment matters topics such as
reducing absenteeism, employee sickness and payment systems
Improving the understanding of industrial relations
ACAS's initial role was mainly the resolution of industrial disputes, but more recently
had focused on improving business practices to reduce the possibility of industrial
disputes. Much of ACAS's work nowadays is conciliating in disputes between an
individual employee and his or her employer.…read more

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Employment Act, 1982
This act increase the support needed for closed shops to 85%. It also made trade
unions liable for damages if the union supported illegal industrial action.
Trade Union Act, 1984
This legislation made a secret ballot of employees a legal requirement before
industrial action was lawful.…read more

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Larger firms have expert human resource
specialists and are more likely to be geared up for change, they may also be able to
afford specialist employment lawyers to advise them on avoiding some of the effects of
a new piece of employment legislation.…read more


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