That was the news that was: human resources news from 20 years ago

20 years of Personnel Today - read more on our anniversary

HR industry news back in the spring of 1988 would have been hugely different from today’s – or would it?

Take a look at some of the “hot off the press” news stories capturing the attention of early Personnel Today readers. Plus ça change apart from the names.

9 February 1988

Personal computers have found their way into most personnel offices

When the Institute of Manpower Studies and the Institute of Personnel Development began their surveys of computers in personnel in 1982, only 4% of personnel applications ran on a microcomputer. Last year this had risen to 33%.


8 March 1988

Union restraint satisfactory say bosses

The majority of British executives feel legislation curbing union power has gone far enough. Two-thirds of those questioned in the latest survey [by Chief Executive magazine] believed that trade unions had an important role to play in industrial relations. Only a minority of those canvassed thought that unions were run by extremists.

22 March 1988

Television advert targets personnel

Personnel managers are prejudiced against the long-term unemployed, according to the Department of Employment (DE). To help change attitudes, the DE has launched a television commercial featuring Anita Roddick and Sir Terence Conran, talking about their experiences of long-term employment, and featuring a woman depicting a personnel officer.

5 April 1988

Big drop in UK strike days

Britain is winning the battle against strikes. The number of working days in Britain lost to strike action fell drastically between 1985 and 1986 against a background of more strikes worldwide. In 1986 Britain lost only 184 working days per thousand employed, as a result of strikes, compared to 661 in 1985.

19 April 1988

Trade Bill flounders

President Reagan has threatened to veto the forthcoming US Trade Bill if it contains certain employment provisions. The president objects to a clause requiring a 60-day notice of closure of plants with 100 or more workers, or lay-offs involving more than one-third of the company’s workforce, or 500 employees.

Advice for women

Choice Productions has launched a new video-based training kit designed to help women office workers understand how computers and information technology affect their jobs. Each of the three videos takes the viewer through a particular aspect of women’s relationship to information technology.

3 May 1988

London car toll row

A proposal to introduce a £5 toll charge on motorists entering London has been attacked by the Confederation of British Industries (CBI). “We are very much against the idea, because it would stop people coming to London for business and to shop,” said a CBI spokesman. “That makes it bad for business on every level,” he added.

EOC pushes for mining opportunities

The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has called for an end to the ban on women working in underground jobs. The EOC wants an end to restrictions keeping women out of male-dominated industries, such as mining. If conditions aren’t suitable for women then their suitability for men should also be questioned, it argues.

17 May 1988

IOD says 1992 has passed the ‘yawn’ stage

British business has woken up to the challenge of the single European market, according to a survey by the Institute of Directors (IoD). “Awareness has grown fast in the past three months, but we were still pleasantly surprised. People tend to yawn when Europe is mentioned,” said Wendy Buckley, a policy research executive for the IoD.

31 May 1988

Afternoon pints put more pressure on publicans

New licensing laws will add to stress among publicans, a union spokesman has warned. Breweries need to open discussions with individual managers to soften the blow to employees, according to John Madden, general secretary for the National Association for Licensed Managers (NALM).

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