Shop-floor Industrial Relations: The Private Sector
Given our political system, which is characterised by executive dominance and party discipline, governments have little problem passing legislation. However, legislation is not an end in itself, rather it is a means to an end. Thus, the Thatcher Government’s aim in the field of industrial relations was not merely to enact legislation. Their main intention was to alter the balance between unions and management; more specifically, in their rhetoric, to reassert management’s ‘right to manage’. As such they hoped to encourage employers to reorganise relations with their unions and employees: to transform shop-floor industrial relations. This chapter examines the degree to which that aim and hope has been achieved. It is divided into two sections. The first section establishes the degree to which there has been a transformation in the private sector since 1979. The second section then addresses the most crucial question: To what extent have the changes which have occurred in shop-floor industrial relations resulted from the Conservative legislation rather than the processes of deindustrialisation and restructuring dealt with in the previous chapter?
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