Unions are failing to secure better pay deals, claims report

The
ability of trade unions to secure better pay deals for their members than
non-union employees is in long-term decline, a new study claims.

The report
by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation assessed the unions’ role in pay and
employment using data from a 1998 nationally representative survey of managers
and staff in more than 2,000 workplaces where there were over 10 employees.

Researchers,
who compiled the study, found that unions appeared to affect the process of pay
determination more than the outcome and pay increases in the private sector
during 1997/98 were no greater where trade unions were involved, once other
relevant factors were taken into account.

It also
shows underlying pay levels in companies with multi-union representation or
where pay-setting arrangements covered more than 70 per cent of the workforce,
were typically nine per cent higher.

But in
these workplaces recently negotiated pay increases had tended to be lower.

The
research also shows that employment in unionised workplaces in the private
sector declined at an average rate of 1.8 per cent a year in the 1990s compared
with employment growth of 1.4 per cent in non-union workplaces.

Furthermore,
unions did not increase the likelihood of workplace closure during the 1990s
apart the manufacturing sector where unionised plants were on average 15 per
cent more likely to close between 1990 and 1998 than non union workplaces.

Neil
Millward, co-author of the report, said, “The evidence on annual pay
settlements and on underlying pay levels suggests that the ability of unions to
enhance wages and salaries is in long term decline.

“However
it does also seem that the negative effect of unions on job losses are
generally avoidable where management allow them a role in determining
employment matters as well as pay.”

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