Deals spell new era for unionism

The surge in voluntary union recognition deals could herald a new age of trade unionism, an employment relations expert has claimed.

Dr Gregor Gall, senior lecturer in industrial relations at Stirling University, told Personnel Today the recent union recognition laws could be a catalyst for a period of large-scale unionisation.

He said, “The unions will not be as powerful as they were in 1979 – but I think a corner has certainly been turned for them.”

His research revealed that in 1998 there were 104 new union agreements, and 267 in 1999. In the first six months of this year, there were 78 recognition deals.

Gall has analysed many of the union recognition agreements and claims many are not of the modern “partnership” type favoured by the TUC and the Government. He said, “Partnership is not as widespread as the TUC and the employers are suggesting it is.

“But that does not mean the partnership approach will not be adopted – some employers are saying they want to achieve partnership without unionisation.”

Mike Judge, personnel and industrial relations director at Peugeot, said, “As a result of the legislation, I can see more of these deals happening. But unions will have to prove to employers that entering into partnership agreements is worthwhile.”

• Members of the TGWU are threatening strike action at Peugeot after they voted last week against a pay deal struck by the union with employers.

• Report on Trade Union Recognition 01786 467315.

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