Compare And Contrast Strike Activities In UK Economics Essay


Industrial dealingss is about discoursing relationships among employers, employees and the authorities. It is dynamic and should be viewed in the altering context ( Salamon, 1994 ) . By and large talking, it involves a broad scope of subjects and issues, such as labour motions, industrial actions, developments of trade brotherhoods, work councils and employers ‘ associations, corporate bargaining, and authorities intercession and ordinances ( Salamon, 1994 ) . Talking about the nature of industrial dealingss, it chiefly focuses on employment relationships ( Edwards, 1995 ; Ackers, 2002 ; Edwards, 2003 ) . Within these relationships, there are industrial actions which consist lockouts, lookouts, work stoppages, prohibitions, work to govern, halt work meetings, go slow, boycotts, absenteeism, sabotage, turnover, and exclusion from decision-making in concern ( Fleming, 2002 ) .

In this paper, I will chiefly discourse work stoppage activities in UK. The industrial dealingss construction in Britain is considered as “ one of the most complicated in the universe ” ; and this is partially because Britain ‘s advanced industrial revolution and development of trade brotherhoods ( Clutterbuck, 1984, p. 11 ) . Through the analysis of work stoppage activities, we can see some alteration in the nature of industrial dealingss. The economic and political context for the period of 1975-79 and 2005-09 are rather similar, but there are some differences every bit good. During this essay, I will compare and contrast political and economic context and work stoppage activities of 1975-1979 and 2005-2009 ; and so seek to acquire decision of the alteration in the nature of industrial dealingss from the comparing and contrast. First, I will speak about the planetary economic context and the economic context of those two periods in UK ; and followed by analysis of the political context. During both those two periods, UK experienced economic recession, depression of fabrication, increasing unemployment rate, surging rising prices, and planetary economic recession besides associated with those two periods. There were authorities rotary motions during both periods. In the period of 1975-79, authorities intercession was strong and there were strong cooperation between trade brotherhood and authorities. Strike activities were in a grade of extremum in both periods although work stoppages were much more terrible from 1975 to 1979. I will so analyze work stoppage activities from the facet of working yearss lost, figure of work stoppages, figure of employees involved and sector differences. After this, I will speak about grounds of work stoppage activities, and alterations in the nature of industrial dealingss in UK based on those analysis.

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Main Body

Economic Context

Global Economic Context

During the periods of 1975-79 and 2005-09, the planetary economic system was in recession which influenced UK ‘s economic system. For the periods of 1975-1979, universe GDP per capita decreased by 0.02 per cent ; nevertheless, during 2005-2009, the contraction was more terrible, and it decreased by 2.5 per cent. The contraction of universe GDP per capita was associated with diminution on planetary investing, planetary trade and industrial production ; and periods of 2005-09 declined much more compared with 1975-79 on all these footings ( see table 1-4 ) . For unemployment rate, it increased by 1.25 per cent in 1975, while it raised by 2.5 per cent in 2009 ( see table 5 ) . The planetary economic context was non optimistic within those two periods. The fiscal crisis in 2008 made UK ‘s economic system even more terrible. Both periods besides experienced some grade of oil crisis. In 1973, OPEC increased oil monetary value by 70 per cent, to $ 5.11 a barrel ( Yergin, 1992 ) . Since so, the oil monetary value kept increasing until 1981 ; in 1975, the oil monetary value was over $ 12 per barrel. The oil monetary value increased from $ 30 in January of 2005 to $ 137 in July of 2008 ( see table 6 and 7 ) .

Table 1-5 ( Beginning: Presentation on “ Global Economic Crisis “ , April 30, 2009 )

Table 1

universe GDP.jpg

Table 2 Table 3

planetary investing table.jpgglobal trade table.jpg

Table 4 Table 5

industrial production table.jpgworld unemployment rate table.jpg

Table 6

Degree centigrades: UsersEllenDesktop?-°a»??-‡a»¶a¤?oil price.jpg

Beginning: EIA

Table 7

Degree centigrades: UsersEllenDesktop799px-Price_of_oil_ ( 2003-2008 ) .png

Beginning: U.S. Energy Information Administration

UK Economic Context

Britain is the innovator of industrial revolution, and it is one of the oldest industrialized states. However, from 1975 to 1979, UK ‘s economic system was considered as “ de-industrialisation ” ( Hughes and Foot, 1981, p. 9 ) . They besides mentioned possible causes contribute to this “ de-industrialisation ” , such as diminution of end product and productiveness in fabrication industries, diminution in net exports, loss of market portion, and other industrialized states ‘ comparatively higher growing. Talking about the diminution of fabrication end product, Hughes and Foot provided some informations: from 1975 to 1980 ( 1975 as the basal twelvemonth ) , ferric metals decreased by 35 per cent, and for the petroleum steel end product merely, end product decreased by 40 per cent ; leather goods declined by 36 per cent ; ship building was reduced by 33 per cent ; and motor and vehicles ‘ end product decreased by 27 per cent. There was diminution in about every industry of fabrication. Because at that clip, most British workers were manual workers, the diminution of fabrication industries straight resulted to the addition of unemployment rate. The unemployment increased from 1.06 million ( 4.2 % ) in 1975 to 1.60 million ( 4.8 % ) in 1979, increased about 51 per cent ( Kennedy, 1982 ) . From 2005 to 2009, fabricating end product declined by 12 per cent ( National Statistics, 2009 ) ; at the same clip, the unemployment rate in UK was 4.7 per cent in 2005 ; and in 2009, the unemployment rate arrived at about 7.9 per cent ( National Statistics, 2009 ) .

From 1975-79, the net exports besides decreased a batch. In 1970, fabricating exports exceeded its imports about 59 per cent, while in 1979, the figure became merely 10 per cent ; and for rider autos merely, exports fell by 18 per cent, but imports rose by 94 per cent ( Hughes and Foot, 1981 ) . However, from 2005 to 2009, UK net exports in general increased by 0.6 per cent, and its net imports increased by 4.9 per cent every bit good ; for motor autos, net exports increased 7 per cent ; but, fabricating net exports overall decreased by 8 per cent ; ( National Statistics, 2009 ) . When Britain experienced low productiveness in 1970s, some industrialized states went through a grade of growing. For illustration, from 1973 to 1979, the hourly labour productiveness in North America and Italy increased approximately 20 per cent ; and for Japan, France and Germany, the growing was about 30 per cent ( Hughes and Foot, 1981 ) . The lower degree of productiveness and end product in 1970s made Britain lose market portion in the planetary market. There was besides surging rising prices and oil crisis in both periods.

Political Context

There was government-changing within both those two periods. In 1974, Labour Party won the general election, and from 1974-79, Labour Party was in charge ; while in 1979, Conservative Party took over. For 1975-79, at the beginning, it merely finished altering a new authorities ; and at the terminal of this period, there was a changing authorities every bit good. The state of affairs is similar for the period of 2005-09. In 2005, Labour Party won for the 3rd clip of the general election, and there were two presidents bing within this period, but both of them represent the Labour Party ; and there will be an election in 2010 shortly.

Government intercession and engagement is important, particularly during recession periods. Government had great impact on income policies in the period of 1975-79. There was a understanding of Social Contract between the authorities and TUC ; and the understanding was that TUC agreed to restrict pay additions to counterbalance costs of life and there was besides a limitation on one-year pay additions ; in return, the authorities agreed to “ keep monetary values, increase public outgo and take other steps to cut down unemployment ” ( Kessler and Bayliss, 1995, p. 27 ) . There were besides farther Social Contract Phases followed. Government besides introduced some Torahs and ordinances in order to better oversee industrial dealingss. Through Trade Union and Labour Relations Acts in 1975, trade brotherhood unsusceptibilities were reinstated ; the Employment Protection Act in 1975 provided footings of corporate affairs and single rights ; the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service, which responsibility was to advance industrial dealingss and promote corporate bargaining, was established with statutory power ( Kessler and Bayliss, 1995, p.29-30 ) . During 2005-09, there were besides many ordinances announced in favor of the labour force and trade brotherhoods by authorities. In 2005, the Employment Relations Act made betterment of trade brotherhood acknowledgment process ; the new Employment Equality Regulations in 2005 designed to forestall sex favoritism ( Andrea, 2007 ) .

During 1975-79, the authorities was still adopted Keynesian policies and step in a batch ( Fletcher, 1989 ) . Because of the unpleasant economic context, authorities took many steps to decrease the negative effects. Government took actions in order to better unemployment state of affairs. It tried to increase labour demand by giving pay subsidies ( eg. Impermanent Employment Subsidy which subsidise employer i??20 for every employee he kept ; subsidies to houses that create more employment ) and make occupations on populace installations ( Cable,1982, p.265 ) . Because of the high unemployment rate, authorities besides took actions in 2009. Harmonizing to the Director of Education and Skills Policy, authorities ‘s i??500 million is allocated for enlisting subsidy fund to 50,000 new apprenticeships ; authorities besides encourages companies to offer occupation chances to immature people and set great attending on supplying basic accomplishments to better making of immature people ( Prosser, 2009 ) .

Strike Activities

Measure of Strike Activities

From the tabular arraies below, we can see that the figure of working yearss lost fluctuated from 1975 to 1979, but the general tendency was increasing ; it increased from around 6 million in 1975 to 29.5 million in 1979. However, compared with the period of 1975-79, from 2005 to 2008, figure of working yearss lost decreased a batch compared with former period. It was 0.16 million in 2005 and reached a extremum of about 1 million in 2007, but it decreased to 0.059 million in 2008. The figure of work stoppages in 1975 was 2,282 and it declined to 2,080 in 1979 ; while the figure increased from 116 to 144 in the period of 2005-08. For the figure of workers involved, it increased 3.80 million from 1975 to 1979 while increased 0.42 million for 2005-08. Although the figure of work stoppages from 1975 to 1979 decreased, both the figure of workers involved and figure of working yearss lost increased a batch, which indicated that there were larger graduated tables of work stoppages happened. From 2005 to 2007, the comprehensiveness and continuance of work stoppages raised more than 7 times together with comparatively stable frequence. In general, breadth and continuance of work stoppages in the period of 1975-79 were and increased much more than the period of 2005-08. It is noteworthy that from 2005 to 2008, bulk of working yearss lost in public sectors.

Table 8



( figure of work stoppages )


( figure of workers involved, 000s )


( figure of working yearss lost, 000s )


2 922

1 626

14 750


2 282


6 012


2 016


3 284


2 703

1 166

10 142


2 471

1 041

9 405


2 080

4 608

29 474


2 310

1 658

11 663

( Beginning: Blyton and Turnbull 2004: 335 )

Table 9



( figure of work stoppages )


( figure of workers involved, 000s )


( figure of working yearss lost, 000s-Priate+Public )




( 59+99 ) 158




( 98+656 ) 754




( 39+1002 ) 1 041




( 48+711 ) 59

( Beginning: National Statistics ; Economic & A ; Labour Market Review 2006-08 )

Analysis of Strike Activities

The economic context in 1970s was really awful. As mentioned above, the steep diminution in fabrication industries and the planetary recession resulted in great addition of unemployment rate ; there was besides high rising prices. Strikes were in a extremum in 1974, but work stoppage activities decreased a batch in 1975 and 1976 because the Social Contract agreed between authorities and TUC. In the Social Contract Phase 1 of 1975-76, they agreed to restrict pay addition within i??6 per hebdomad and no addition for people who earn more than i??8500 a twelvemonth ; hence, within those two old ages, the addition in pay was 14 per cent while the addition of the cost of life was 13 per cent ( Kessler and Bayliss, 1995 ) . Strike activities declined for those two old ages. However, for the Social Contract Phase 2 of 1976-77, TUC and authorities agreed to restrict pay once more up to i??4 per hebdomad with some decrease of revenue enhancement rate ; and this resulted addition in pay of 9 per cent but addition in cost of life rose by 17.6 per cent ( Kessler and Bayliss, 1995 ) . Harmonizing to Davies ( 1979 ) , incomes policies successfully cut down wage differences, but when the policy is removed, wage work stoppages will be more. For Social Contract Phase 3 and 4, there was no understanding between TUC and authorities, and authorities carried out the policies one-sidedly ; TUC was particularly non satisfied with Phase 4 because the pay bound was impossibly low ; because deficiency of power, authorities forced the policy in public sector by puting hard currency bounds, and in the private sector by endangering of no export recognition warrants and backdown of authorities contracts ( Kessler and Bayliss, 1995 ) . Finally, as Davies said, after 1977, work stoppages began to resurgent, particularly between 1978 and 1979. Incomes policies ended up with small consequence and ensuing in the winter of discontent and aroused widespread populace sector work stoppages ( Matthews and Minford, 1996 ) . TUC and employees were extremely unsated with wage restraints, and as shown in table 10, most on the job yearss lost because of wage. From 1975 to 1979, work stoppages of public sector involved in railroad, postal, wellness service, fire combatants, et Al ; and one of the most noticeable work stoppages was fire combatants ‘ national work stoppage in 1977-78 ; those fire combatants claimed higher wage with an addition of 30 per cent ; eventually, it was settled with an addition of 10 per cent ( Blyton and Turnbull, 2004 ) . As you can see from table 11 and 12, for the period of 2005-08, most on the job yearss besides lost on public services sector, and the chief ground of work stoppages was besides due to pay ; in 2008, about all of the work stoppages happened because of wage related issues. From 2005 to 2009, public sector work stoppages involved prison officers, railroad and air hose workers, postal workers, wellness attention staff, et Al. The fire combatants ‘ work stoppage in 1977-78 was at national degree. There were besides national degree work stoppages in 2005-09. For illustration, the Royal Mail work stoppage from 2007 boulder clay now is at national degree, and it is “ the first national postal work stoppage to be held since 1996 ” ( Arrowsmith, 2007, EIROline, p.1 ) . The Royal Mail work stoppage is between Royal Mail and Communication Workers Union ( CWU ) , and work stoppages are about contending against company ‘s modernization programs which involve occupations losingss, reduced wage and pensions, increased work load and flexible work force ( BBC News, 2007 ; Kay, 2007 ) . The authorities encourages CWU to do understanding with Royal Mail, but it takes no farther actions to settle it down that harmonizing to Alarcon, it should take actions ( Alarcon, 2009 ) . Many work stoppages happened towards pension and wage, such as work stoppages of civil retainers, wellness workers and instructors in 2005 and 2006 ( Libcom, 2006 ) . As seen from table 12, the bulk of working yearss lost due to pay related grounds, and there was an increasing tendency of this ground from 2005 to 2008. The work stoppage took by prison officers in 2007 was due to this ground. Harmonizing to Colin Moses ( president of Prison Officers ‘ Association ) , authorities refused to increase wage for prison officers, but there was an addition of ?2.8 million of the mean entire wage of FTSE-100 main executives in the private sector ; It was eventually settled by authorities ‘s understanding of increasing wage by 2.5 per cent ( Sturcke, 2007 ) . There are two alone characteristics of work stoppages that exist merely in the period of 2005-09. The first 1 is that there were work stoppages that against utilizing foreign workers. Under the economic recession, employees in energy industries went on work stoppage claiming over use foreign workers based on the inexpensive labor cost ( BBC News, 3 February 2005 ) . They claimed “ British occupations for British workers ” ( Winnett and Jognson, 2009, ) . The 2nd characteristic is that, important figure of adult females involved in the work stoppage on 28th March, 2006 which was “ the largest of all time adult females ‘s work stoppage in British history ” ( March 30, 2006, ) .

Table 10 Working yearss lost by chief cause of strikes-UK ( % of all yearss lost )

Time period



TU affairs

Dismissal and Discipline

Maning and Work Allocation







( Beginning: Employment Gazette, assorted, as cited in Contemporary British Industrial Relations, p.232 )

Table 11 Number of arrests and working yearss lost: by private and public sector


Working yearss lost ( 000s )





















Beginning: ONS Labour Market Statisticss

Degree centigrades: UsersEllenDesktopworking yearss lost-private and public.jpg

Table 12

Degree centigrades: UsersEllenDesktopcause of working yearss lost 08.jpg

Reasons of Strikes

There are many grounds that can do work stoppage activities. Sing grounds for work stoppages happened in periods of 1975-79 and 2005-09, they are inactive economic context in UK and all over the universe, such as high rising prices rate ( addition of rising prices rate is higher than addition of pay rate ) and high unemployment rate. High outlook of economic system and employment can besides ensue in work stoppage activities. Harmonizing to Salamon ( 1994, p7 ) , because the economic system state of affairs in Britain in 1950s and 1960s experienced general “ stable and full or glutted employment ” , people expected this state of affairs last. So when the economic system went down beyond people ‘s outlook and originate their dissatisfaction, more work stoppages happened.

During the period of 1975 to 1979, authorities and TUC were in a relationship of corporation and they had understanding. It supposed to be peace and less strike activities. At first, work stoppage activities declined a batch, but so, it increased once more. Government ‘s unpleasant income policies were partially led to work stoppages. Therefore, we can see that authorities ‘s reactions to the economic state of affairs which are non satisfied can besides do work stoppage activities. If authorities took effectual actions, work stoppage can be significantly decreased, such as the lessening of work stoppages in 1976 and 1976 ; nevertheless, if actions/ policies are non effectual and can non be agreed by employees and their brotherhoods, the state of affairs would be even worse and more work stoppages would go on. Government ‘s function is really of import in industrial struggles.

Through both periods, the bulk ground of work stoppages is because of wage and pension related issues. So, we can reason that wage and pension is one of the chief grounds that cause work stoppage activities. There are besides other grounds which lead to work stoppages, such as redundancy, occupation loss and organizational issues. For illustration, the Royal Mail work stoppages during 2007 boulder clay now is chiefly because company ‘s modernization plans that involve occupations losingss, reduced wage and pensions ( BBC News, 2007 ; Kay, 2007 ) .

The imbalanced intervention between public and private sectors besides contribute to strike activities. For illustration, for some workers, such as learning helpers and attention workers, they normally work 15 per cent unpaid overtime and claim for just wage ( ruddy Piper nigrum, 2010 ) .

Nature of Industrial Relations in UK

The nature of industrial dealingss is about employment dealingss which include dealingss among authorities, employers and employers ‘ associations, and employees and trade brotherhoods ( Edwards, 2003 ) . Through those two periods, we can see some alterations.

From 1975 to 2009, together with diminution of work stoppage frequence, comprehensiveness and continuance, trade brotherhood rank besides decreased. From table 13, we can see that trade brotherhood rank was increasing from 11.56 million in 1975 to 12.64 million in 1979 ; while it declined from 7.42 million in 2005 to 7.41 million in 2007 ; and in general, trade brotherhood rank declined a batch from 1975 to 2007 by 4.15 million. One account of the diminution of work stoppage activities and trade brotherhood rank is employment dealingss ‘ traveling towards individuality ( Bacon and Storey, 2000 ; Atkinson and Curtis, 2004 ) . Since late 1980s and 1990s, there are more and more single employment contracts between workers and employers ( Brown, et Al, 2000 ) . Because of those single contracts, there are fewer corporate differences than the past. Because of the diminution of rank and increasing usage of part-time and subcontract workers, trade brotherhood influence besides decreased ( Heery, 2004 ) .

Table 13


Membership ( 000s )

Density %
















( Beginning: Waddington 1992 for informations from 1948-1987 Labour Force Survey data thenceforth )

Government intercession now is much looser than that of 1975-79. Government policy shifted from Keynesian to Monetary policy ( Pemberton, 2000 ) . Harmonizing to Pemberton, during the period of 1975-79, authorities functionaries tried to follow pecuniary policy but really failed to make so ; the existent displacement happened after 1979. There were Social Contracts from 1975 to 1979 which indicated that authorities still intervened a batch. However, UK now represents a broad market economic system which prefers less authorities ordinance ( Sullivan and Gershuny, 2004 ) .

There has been a alteration on the balance of power. Because of the high unemployment rate and diminution of trade brotherhood rank, there are fewer work stoppages ( Hyman, 1999 ) . When unemployment rate is high, people tend to value the occupation they have and are afraid of being dismissed by carry oning work stoppages. In add-on to this, Hyman said that the bulk of employees besides tend to work out jobs with peaceable solution, such as dialogue with employers.

Because there is addition of work stoppage activities on public sectors, Kelly and Hamann claimed that the work stoppages are non needfully against employers ; there is a great possibility that they are against authorities and authorities ‘s policies ( 2009 ) .


For both periods of 1975-79 and 2005-09, there are planetary recessions ; and UK besides experience diminution of fabrication end product, addition of unemployment rate. The former period had a lessening of net export while the latter period increased a small. Both periods experienced altering authorities at the beginning and the terminal ; but authorities intervened more in 1975-79 than in 2005-09.

For work stoppage activities, both periods are in extremum, but from 1975 to 1979, work stoppage frequence, working yearss lost and figure of workers involved were much more terrible than in 2005-09. In both periods, figure of workers involved and working yearss lost increased, but figure of work stoppages decreased in former period while increased in latter period. From 2005-09, most work stoppages happened in public sector and at the terminal of 1975-79, there were besides widespread public sector ‘s work stoppage ; and there were both national degree work stoppages happened. Another similarity is that the chief ground of work stoppage in both periods due to pay and pension related issues. Passive economic state of affairs, unpleasant authorities policies and unjust intervention between sectors can do work stoppage activities.

From those two periods, we can see the diminution of trade brotherhood rank and its influence, less authorities intercession, alteration on balance of power and possible work stoppages against authorities and its policies.

Although from those two periods we can see some similarities and some differences, it is non accurate to reason continuity or alteration in the nature of industrial dealingss harmonizing to those two periods merely. Because of way dependence, events happened today relate to the past history. Therefore, the more old ages of the analysis are involved, the more truth the analysis will be. 3792


Manufacturing end product from 2005-09

Degree centigrades: UsersEllenDesktopoutput 2005-09.gif


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