Patterns of Change

  • John Bratton


Chapter 3 focused on developments in British labour relations occurring over the last decade at national level. Throughout the period trade unions have faced major challenges in coming to terms with industrial relations legislation and management-led initiatives. For much of the time trade unions were on the defensive, but they were not destroyed, and by the late 1980s there were signs of a more combative unionism. Some writers argue that trade unions have changed their approach and moved towards ‘new realism’ (Bassett, 1986). Other studies offer contrasting interpretations (Kelly, 1988). The state of the global economy, compounded by government economic policy and the long-term trend in British competitiveness has had a profound impact on British labour relations. As unemployment grew and union membership collapsed in the early 1980s there was a shift in the balance of power, certainly within manufacturing, towards management.


Trade Union Technical Change Union Membership Union Density Technology Agreement 
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  1. 2.
    Quoted in LRD (1986), ‘Flexibility’, Bargaining Report, no. 56, November, p. 5.Google Scholar

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© John Bratton 1992

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  • John Bratton

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