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Trade Unions: resurgence or demise?

Sue Fernie, David Metcalf (eds) 
Routledge (7 September 2005)

This, the third book in the important Future of Trade Unions in Britain series, features original research underpinned with theory drawn from economics, organisation theory, history and social psychology. The authors deliver a comprehensive analysis of trade unions' prospects in the new millennium, and case studies which deal with topical issues such as:

  • the reasons for the loss of 5 million members in the 1980s and 1990s
  • the way in which unions' own structures inhibit their revitalisation
  • the apparent failure of unions to thrive in the benign times since 1997
  • the extent to which use of the internet will permit unions to break with their tradition of organising by occupation or industry
  • the prospects for real social partnership at national level
  • the way in which high performance workplaces in the US give voice to workers without unions.

Written by some of the leading scholars in the area, this book gives an insight into union prospects for the future and has important policy implications for all parties concerned with industrial relations, unions, employers and governments. 


Agence France Presse
British unions, lacking power, eye merger (13 Sep 05)
Faced with falling memberships and waning influence on the political stage, three of Britain's biggest trade unions are contemplating a merger that could see almost 2.6 million workers under one roof. Such a merger would lead to the birth of a union whose membership would rival that of the German union Verdi. A recent report by LSE, entitled Trades Union, Resurgence or Demise?, suggests that membership has dropped also owing to unions' structure and management -- a point backed up by TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber. 

Britain's unions to bring waning influence to bear on Blair (11 Sep 05)
Britain's trade unions begin their annual gathering next week in the presence of Prime Minister Tony Blair, but only too aware that their influence, even on a Labour Party leader, is a far cry from that of the past. 'With around 12 percent of privately employed workers as members, the future for private sector unionisation looks bleak,' noted David Metcalf and Sue Fernie from LSE, in a recent report on unions.

Financial Times
Shrinking movement warned it must adapt or decline (7 Sep 05)
A report by the Centre for Economic Performance at LSE shows the creation of large super unions will not reverse the long-term decline in union membership or ease their financial problems unless they alter their strategies to suit the demands of a much- changed labour market. David Metcalf, professor of industrial relations at LSE, says that unions' ability to negotiate higher wages for their members, one of the main drivers for recruitment, has dwindled as their bargaining position has weakened.