Employment Acts, 1980, '82, '84
Remember, the majority happened during her FIRST TERM, pre-Falklands. There is no need to know the ins and outs of the acts.
- Trade Unions (TUs) could be sued by employers for damages caused by disruption.
- Secret ballots must be taken before strike action:
- Get rid of Wild Cat Strikes.
- Democratising the Unions.
- Ending of closed shop policy.
- Ended: "You cannot work here unless you're part of the Union."
- Removing this would result in a contraction of the Unions.
- Therefore, removing close shop policy would make it easier for employers to dismiss employees.
- The acts controlled picketing, stopping flying pickets.
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Impact of the Employment Acts
- 'New Trade Unionism' emerged which accepted Thatcherism.
- Signing of 'No-Strike' agreements.
- TUs became more democratic.
- By 1990s, more workers owned shares than were union members.
- Decline in strike days:
- 1979 - 29.5m
- 1990 - 1.9m
- Union membership hit by unemployment in manufacturing.
- Union leaders were marginalised (relegated to the fringe of society)
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Debate: Deliberate provocation
- TUs were unpopular with voters - what with the impression they had left on the country: Gravediggers Strike, 3-Day week.
- Reform promised in '79 manifesto.
- Control of TUs was central to Conservative ideology and vital to economic development.
- TUs were seen as a cause of economic decline.
- Heath's downfall - this allowed for opposition to Trade Unionism to be mounted as Heath struggled to overcome militant unionism.
- The Employment Acts of her first term.
- Ian MacGregor's 'Mac the knife' reputation. Arthur Scargill had branded him a surgeon to which MacGregor replied that he was a plastic surgeon, attempting to salvage what he could.
- He was inflammatory.
- Carried out Thatcher's desire to create an efficient industry.
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Debate: Gradual Evolution
- 1979 shows a moderate approach to the Unions.
- Government intervened on the side of the miners against the National Coal Board cuts.
- Success over the Falklands War and subsequent victory in the 1983 General Election increased the Government and Thatcher's confidence.
- Ian MacGregor responding to gov't demands to rationalise the coal industry:
- Seeking to create only a modern, efficient industry.
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