Industrial Action


Trade Unions

  • Trade Unions represent and protect the interests of their members
    • Higher pay, better working conditions, shorter working hours, legal help in disputes with employers
    • Also offer social facilities, training and general legal advice
  • To join, a person pays subscription
  • Collective bargaining
    • Negotiation on behalf of all its members
    • Better deal than acting individually
  • Some employers are unwilling to negotiate with trade unions, some like it as it is easier to deal with workforce

General Unions

  • Negotiate for workers in any job from any industry
  • e.g. GMB and Unite (2 mill members)
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Trade Unions

Industry/sector Specific Unions

  • Members who work in a particular type of job e.g. teachers
  • Some very large
    • e.g. Unison (public sector workers' union) has over 1.3 million
  • More specialist unions have relatively few members
    • e.g. Association of Flight Attendants

Industrial disputes

  • When employers and unions can't agree on something important
  • Businesses lose money until the dispute is settled
  • Strike
    • Group of workers stop working
    • Costs firm in lost output and disruption to orders
    • Striking workers aren't paid
  • Work-to-rule
    • Workers do exactly what their job description says, nothing more
    • Work slowed down
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Industrial Disputes

  • Go slow
    • Workers do jobs as slowly as possible
    • Productivity decreases
  • Overtime ban
    • Refuse to work longer than standard working week
    • Damaging for firms that rely on overtime to meet important orders on time

Trade union membership in decline

  • 12 million in 1970s to 7 million now
  • Laws in 1980s reduced power of unions
  • Fewer people work in manufacturing
  • Employment Relations Act (1999) increased union power
  • Businesses behave in ways to make workers less likely to join unions
    • Set up works councils to discuss concerns with management
    • Consult workers about management decisions
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Impacts of Industrial Action

  • Costs to workers
    • Lose wages
    • May lose bonuses, commision and overtime pay
    • If business suffers, may be laid off or made redundant
  • Costs to customers
    • Unable to buy products needed
  • Costs to business
    • Customers take business to competitors
    • Less proft
    • Cannot produce or sell - loses income
    • Lose sales revenue if products raw materials or stock
  • Costs to economy
    • People and firms have less money to spend
    • Businesses lose rales revenue
    • Unemployment may rise - cost of social security benefits rises
    • Government lose tax revenue
    • Imports may rise if people buy abroad instead
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