Unions have low business impact

Recognising a trade union does not bring business benefits or change employee attitudes, research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development suggests.

Collective bargaining and joint consultation processes were found to have zero influence on staff attitude or performance.

The research, based on analysis of the DTI’s 1998 Workplace Employee Relations Survey, did find a connection between employee involvement and performance but found that people management practices were the decisive factor, not union involvement. It found “no evidence” that a trade union presence has “any distinctive impact beyond that of people management practices on their own”.

CIPD adviser on employee relations Mike Emmott said employers realise that they have to manage the “psychological contract” – making staff feel involved and loyal to the company. “An absence of employee representation is not the problem. Rather it is the failure to adopt good people management practices that creates employment relations failures,” he said.

Researchers from Birkbeck College, London and Queen’s University, Belfast analysed the survey which covered 2,000 workplaces.

• For a free copy call Sara Allen at the CIPD on:020-8263 3240

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