Role of Trade Union for the UK's Employers

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In this period when all are mindful of the importance of workers, who are one of the core tools and the most valuable assets of a company. It has a direct impact on the productivity of the company on the type and amount of work they perform. To ensure growth and success, maintaining good employee relationship is a necessity for every business. Now, what happens when employees don’t feel heard about their needs and security at their workplace? Well, it is often read in newspapers, that company workers were striking or joining together for a shared purpose. There are big labour disputes in this country every year leading to protests or work stoppages. In every situation, the company, the labour union, and the government are adversely affected.

Such groups of individuals are known as Trade unions. They raise their voice and work together to better represent their common interests before the authorities. (Daniels, 2006) The unionisation of all workers in every type of business is an employee's association which creates greater power and security on the workforce. The In addition, membership of the union will mutually control employers more than employees have as individuals. The frequency of the labour class is related to general economic circumstances at any given time. In periods of full work and higher salaries, unionism usually loses some of its attractiveness particularly amongst young workers and becomes more appealing in recessional times. By the turn of the 20th century, the world of labour has given the labour movement new challenges, potentially dismantling collective bargaining in sectors where employees could be replaced by a cheaper workforce in another part of the world. (Britannica, 2018) Trade unions aim to maintain and raise their members individual wages through collective bargaining, to provide protections of employment, to protect workers from unfair dismissal and to provide other labour related benefits including aid for those seeking compensation for injuries sustained at a job.

Trade union density: Percentage of employees that were members of a trade union in the United Kingdom from 1995 to 2018 Source: Trade union density

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is the organ that represents the Trade Unions in this country at the national level. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is the body that jointly serves workers. Other unions shown on the graphic are Unison, Maritime Union and the National Union of Teachers. (2018)

Role of Trade Unions

Today's world has become globalized and companies have also become globalized. For this reason, businesses are expanding rapidly, and industry workers are too big to maintain the whole population only through the government. The union undertakes collective bargaining through its leadership by negotiating labour contracts with employers. It also serves as the hiring officer, the union’s members intervene with training and choice of a company, which seeks to amplify the number of workers that an employee can hire. The only way to manage and regulate the labour force is through trade unions. (2018) The organisation of trade unions has many roles. They are able to ensure their members’ protection, such as protecting their workers’ rights, safeguarding their market efficiency and negotiating for their wages, satisfactory and adequate working conditions. (Farnham, 2000)

This is critical in unqualified and semi-traditional work environments where individual employees may not know the competitive rates of pay and therefore cannot bargain efficiently. Therefore, the result is an organizational divide of wage-negotiation and daily work procedures (Employee Relations, 1990, p. 15). Nevertheless, the Union has a certain role to play, including the duration, vacations, sick pay, and other procedures in the discussions on these work practices.

It is also important to recognize that if the trade union is wrongly remitted or discriminated against, the Union will also be instrumental in defending its members. Government ACAS was established in the United Kingdom to save employers from workplace activity and workers and stands for Advisory Consultation, Arbitration, and Services. (ACAS, n.d.) In continued tension between the trade union and employers, they can go to ACAS to resolve the problem. It is a government-funded independent body that offers impartial advice. Trade unions clearly care about the workers’ needs. It must also be remembered that trade unions contribute to society and played a major role in achieving national integration. Ensuring social cohesion by reducing trade tensions (Bach 2002), discipline in the workplace support workers with social adaptation. For example, In reality the position of Trade unions has been identified by D’Art and Turner (2008) as delivering major services at both national and company levels. In addition, it can be understood that trade unions’ functions not only emphasise the human component of labour resources, but also stimulate the lives of citizens, particularly their well-being with lower revenues, on policy levels, and also boost their happiness (Patrick, 2010) . Nevertheless, it relies on density and membership of the group to execute these functions. The less union members are, the less leverage they have and the less impact they have in workplace relations. (Rodrigo, 2016) In other words, trade unions help workers of various backgrounds to adapt to new laws, policies and working conditions.

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Decline in Trade Unions memberships in the UK

  • Sources 1: Trade Union Membership Statistics 2018, National statistics, 30/05/2019.
  • Sources 2: Trade Union Membership Statistics 2018, National statistics, 30/05/2019.

Trade Union participation peaked in 1979 and declined dramatically during the 1980s and beginning of the 90s before stabilizing between the mid-1990s and the middle of 2000. The trade union participation rates of workers rose once again between 2011 and 2015 after declining in downturn and years following them and then dropped again in 2016. In the period from 2016 to 2017, the number of trade union memberships is slightly higher, with an even small increase during attendance in 2018. This trend has continued in 2018. Nevertheless, the rates of trade union participation among workers were about 579,000 lowers in 2018 than those of 2008. After 1995 the proportion of workers in a trade union has progressively dropped. The shortage of membership rates to keep pace with the rise in the overall number of employees in the UK during the time (of some 25 percent) is a significant reason for the general drop in membership densities. Although the rates of union membership among the workers have remained relatively constant for periods since 1995, the number of employees overall increased steadily during the most years, with significant reductions in membership levels between 2007 and 2010, and 2015 and 2016. Since 2017 and 2018 the rate of trade union membership has risen. In the United Kingdom, the number of workers that in 2018 were trade union members was as high as 6.35, 103,000 more than in 2017 (1.6%). In the United Kingdom, there were 6,35 million employees who were union Memberships in 2018, 103 000 more than in 2017 (a 1.6% increment). The percentage of trade union members has also risen to 23,4 percent (up from 23,3 percent in 2017) marginally, as the number of employees employed in trade unions has increased slightly in 2018 somewhat more steadily than its growth over the same period. (GOV.UK, 2019)

It is claimed that the drop-in union membership in the UK has reached critical levels. The annual membership has declined steadily since 1979, prompting trade unions to rethink their strategy. There are many explanations why union membership has decreased, from policy changes in the environment to the ability of employers to hiring or maintaining participants that support the business cycle. Thus, there are many causes of this reduction. High or low level of unemployment was assumed to have benefited the union's development in the 1990s, but low inflation and low wage rises were unlikely, and the net result of these conditions was indeterminate. In contrast, union membership has declined due to the size and structure of the workforce, jobs are being transferred to private-sector workers and manufacturing, where the levels of unionization remain typically relatively low for trade union organizations that still have to adjust to these shifts, contributing to participants being losing to the market at a higher rate.

The unionization of young workers is being discussed in trade. A decrease in the level of union membership has arisen in young people, who have an attitude gap towards trade unions and seem to have little understanding of the union because they are lower pay, less committed to the workplace since their performance is diminishing and they need more union protection compared to older employees. Across many other ways, young workers were potentially more influential than older workers, such as emphasis on manufacturing, academic and occupational advantages.

Structural considerations, such as decentralization drives, mergers of the Union and the Multi-unionism, and legislation on the way trade unions engage with members and potential members, workers and the State were also influencing that contributed to the decline of union members. Decentralization options such as the establishment of shop stewards for protesters-responsibility for the collection of dues and representatives taken by groups such as TGWU, AEU, and ASLEF in the 1950s and 1960s also contributed to unequal negotiation performance. The outcome was a dividing factor, contributing to regional speech weakening and workers ' unions becoming undermined. A significant reason for the decline was the lack of multi-unionism and that the productivity growth of workplaces with individual unions was poorer and economic quality and strike records are worse.

Involvement and Participation

Several organizations such as businesses, state agencies, colleges, and non-profit groups currently believe that workers' involvement and participation are important to good economic results. An atmosphere is generated because of employee involvement which leads to confusion in decision-making and behaviour impacting their jobs. Employee involvement is a set of mechanisms designed to engage all workers in a company through their assistance, awareness and optimum participation and dedication to its goals at a reduced expense. Employee participation is characterized as the employee's engagement system, which encourages employees to control and, where necessary, to engage in decision-making on issues affecting them.

The difference between involvement and participation. Kanter (1982) indicated that the participatory nature of decision-making in the company since it includes the exchange of information between staff and management provides more positive outcomes than a hierarchical system. Employees tend to be much better informed of goods and services, systems and activities than their supervisors because they are directly involved in such operations. Therefore, their thoughts and recommendations can be very useful for improving the approach of the business and achieving improved performance. However, employee involvement is associated with the direct link between employees and management, which facilities better interaction and empowers decisions on organisations circumstances. Both create strong sense of commitment to fulfil an objective.

The participation of employees is focused on pluralistic reasoning, unlike employee involvement defined as unitarist, according to Beardwell & Claydon (2007). They offer various viewpoints on employee relations and corporations. Pluralism includes transparent and indeterminate workers ' partnerships and they play a role in safeguarding the public interest and managing the intensity of the powerful in safeguarding the vulnerable. Administrators should not presume unconditional permission to disregard proposals or goals that clash with one's own. The goal is to resolve conflicting views and to ensure that the dispute does not acceptably damage a company. The Unions serve as official worker benefit agents. They are allowed to deal with negotiation obligations. Unitarist, each company is a well-balanced organization that serves a common vision. Employees should be committed to the company and its leadership in appreciation of their shared goals. Unions may invest in employee loyalty and dedication. Unitarism simply notes that there are no disputes in the workforce if there is a disagreement triggered by confusion, misunderstanding of the values and activist's actions. Nevertheless, it can be claimed that none of the groups (Pluralist & Unitarian) are exclusively or unitarian and offer benefits to individual employees and the company by evaluating each method.

According to the WERS report, syndicates seem to be less dominant and more influential workers ' voice networks. This is because trade union membership has decreased substantially over the years. The study also indicates the decline in popularity of mutual consulting and collective bargaining in many nations. The third dimension, which includes workers' involvement and participation, has become popular worldwide. According to Ackers, the majority of companies in Wilkinson & Dundon (2006), employees must be involved in their day-to-day decision making and organizational management. Management of human resources in most organizations finds that workers are innovators and contribute to their jobs by engaging effectively in decision-making.

Approach to Involvement and Participation

TelcomCentre by taking part of workers involvement will create an empowered staff who are more fulfilled, and they feel as if they are an integral part of the organisation to support employees’ participation. This would allow the company to keep the best workers longer, which will improve efficiency and profitability in the workplace. A good combination of commitment and engagement can also guarantee that the workers accomplish tasks on a schedule plan. The aim is to track process continuously and to assess if involvement versus participation is optimum to avowing employees joining trade unions. Appropriate frameworks are required to advise the staff of their high-level firms' members to conduct a protectionist procedure that plays a useful role for its expected beneficiaries. Under their terms, representative workers of top-level decision-making bodies that engage in which they officially have opportunities for deeper feedback than those affiliated with narrowly defined business adjustment procedures. While participatory strategies aim to protect employees, they may also emerge from a less adverbial industrial relations viewpoint in their non-collective bargaining context than that contributing to a controlled involvement of employers. Where effective mechanisms of common interest governance are recognized and embraced as a beneficial contribution to long-term industrial peace, involvement can also form part of a policy that allows workers to prepare their future for themselves through expenditure in the company, infrastructure, and human resources as part of long-term planning and development.

The rise in competition in the industry contributed to the introduction of strategic plans focused on training programs for workers. 'Collective interactions are now focused on more coordination between both sides, in which the added benefit of the group is encouraged' (Gennard & Judge, 2005, p11). The shifting labour relations prioritize business success by creating employee loyalty and participation, enhancing employee satisfaction, engaging workers in decision-making and growing operational competitiveness, sustainability, and quality (Gennard & Judge, 2005).


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