Employees can voluntarily ecome a member of a trade union in which they pay for a representative to aid in times of need. Trade unions are used to regulate pay and working conditions between the employer and employee therefore employees will have the support of their trade union during times of proposed strike activity. There have been numerous strikes within the private and public sector workforce since 1978 and this assignment is going to discuss the main developments in strike activity in Britain over the past 35 years.
It goes without saying that pre 1978, strikes have occurred (Sapsford, 1982) nd played a signlflcant part Into more current affairs that can have relevance to post 1 978 therefore numerous references maybe made to pre 1978 due to the impact it has had on the present day. Thatcher The process by which strikes have to follow is currently regulated under the Trade union and Labour Relations Act 1992 (Legislation. Gov, 2013) This law outlines the rights of Trade unions amongst other things. Notably, this law enforces that trade unions must use a process to perform a strike and this process entails the use of a postal vote called a ballot. Gov. UK,201 3) Before this particular law was implemented the leader of the conservative party, Margaret Thatcher, had initiated the idea of making strike action harder to participate In. Margaret Thatcher was the prime minister from 1979 through until 1990 (Blundell,2008) and it was at this stage in history when trade unions were being reined in by several of Thatcher’s proposals. Thatcher seen the unions and their occurrence of strike activity to be disruptive and believed that the behaviour of the unions could be repressed by Introducing a ballot system (Phillips,1979).
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This meant that employees would have to participate in a secret ballot to decide on whether to involve themselves in strike action. The introduction of this process was ruled by the Trade Union Act 1984 and meant that unions wouldn’t be able to lawfully strike unless they had a majority vote (Carby-Hall, 1 984) therefore prolonging and hindering the prospect of employees and unions participating in strike activity. Winter of Discontent Thatcher’s introduction of such law appeared not long after one of the most momentous episodes of strike activity in history.
The winter of discontent’ occurred between 1978 to 1979 and was recognised as the largest stoppage of labour since the 1 926 General Strike (Winter of Discontent,2007). This period of work stoppages 1 OF3 workers felt the desire to fght the labour government and with the increasing size and militancy of public sector unions, the ‘winter of discontent’ achieved a record status of days lost through strikes(Reitan,2003). Numerous amounts of unions and employees participated in strikes throughout the period of the ‘winter of discontent’;
Britain Journeyed through power cuts, rubbish pilled in the streets and school closures along with a reduction to a three day working week (Elliott, 2008) all in the representation of workers welfare. A total of 39 million days were lost throughout the period between 1978 and 1979 (Gall, 2011) Coal Miners Strike The most significant affair of strike activity after Thatcher’s regulatory implementation to tackle trade union power was the coal miners’ strike in 1984. This work stoppage arose after the recession in the early 1980’s which cut the demand for oal exposing the less productive parts of the industry.
The strike lasted a whole year and included the involvement of several thousand workers and was the most important defeat for trade union movement since the General Strike in 1926 according to Lyddon. (Lyddon, 2013) This particular strike was catastrophic in regards to the potential effects not Just on the coal mining industry, but also other industries that could have been affected by the decisions that lay within Mrs Thatcher’s power. Nick McGahey, the vice president on the NIJM told a news conference that the trikers are not Just fighting for their own Jobs, but for the Jobs other people from different industries (Miners Strike,2013).
The steel, engineering and electrical industry will also experience knock on effects of numerous pit closures. As one can imagine being placed in Margaret Thatcher’s position as this moment in time may have been pressured to say the least, due to the scale of the strike. In 1984 there were 187,000 people in total who were miners and over half of them were participating in strike activity (Miners Strike, 2013). Along with the implications of the olitical decisions being made, unemployment rates were at an all time high of over 3 million people unemployed.