Getting away with murder?
Trade unions, their practices, and their political and economic impact were important issues throughout the 1970s. 1 Such was their significance that, according to different interpretations, this was either the period which marked the highpoint of trade unionism in British history, or it was the moment of victory for neoliberal critiques of trade unions and the beginning of the end for traditional industrialrelations. 2 The Conservative Party is at the heart of these debates and was at the centre of many important
Paradoxes of Internationalization deals with British and German trade union responses to the internationalization of corporate structures and strategies at Ford and General Motors between the late 1960s and the early twenty-first century. Based on research in more than a dozen archives in Britain, Germany and the United States, the book is unique in its attempt to bridge historical and contemporary approaches to the study of trade union politics in multinational firms. Conceptually, Paradoxes of Internationalization draws not only on the mainstream industrial relations literature but also on scholarship in comparative and international political economy, transnational history and nationalism studies. The book points to the paradoxical effects of internationalization processes. First, it demonstrates how internationalization reinforced trade unions’ national identities and allegiances. Second, the book highlights that internationalization made domestic trade union practices more similar in some respects, while it simultaneously contributed to the re-creation of diversity between and within the two countries. Third, the book shows that investment competition was paradoxically the most important precondition for the emergence of cross-border cooperation initiatives although the interest-driven nature of these initiatives also limited their scope.
This book examines the 1969 attempt by Harold Wilson’s Labour Government to enact
legislation to reform industrial relations. There was a particular concern to
curb strikes by the trade unions. Published in the 50th anniversary of this
ill-fated episode, this scholarly study makes extensive use of primary sources,
many of them previously unpublished, most notably the archives of the Labour
Party, the left-wing Tribune Group, the TUC, and the personal papers of the
three key political figures involved, namely Harold Wilson, Barbara Castle and
James Callaghan. The chapters are organised both thematically and
chronologically, each one focusing on a particular aspect of the events leading
to the proposed Industrial Relations Bill, and its subsequent abandonment. The
book commences with an examination of the key economic and industrial
developments of the early 1960s, to indicate how the ‘trade union problem’ was
initially identified and defined. This led the Labour Government, elected in
1964, to establish a Royal Commission to examine industrial relations, but its
report, published in 1968, was a cautious document, and therefore a deep
disappointment to Harold Wilson and his Employment Secretary, Barbara Castle.
They thus pursued their own industrial relations legislation, via a White Paper
called In Place of Strife, but were overwhelmed by the scale and strength of
opposition this aroused, and which eventually compelled them to abandon the
legislation via a humiliating climb-down.
This study examines British shipbuilding and industrial relations from 1870 to 1950, addressing economic, social, and political history to provide a holistic approach to industry, trade unionism, and the early history of the Labour Party. Examining the impact of new machinery, of independent rank-and-file movements and of craft and trade unions, it provides an account of industrial action in shipyards in the period and their effect on the birth and development of the Labour Party.
This book examines the causes, character and impact of the 'winter of discontent' in British politics, particularly the strikes of 1978–1979 and the role of the government in managing industrial relations. It examines how the media reported the industrial strife, the significance of the 'winter of discontent' in the history of the Conservative Party and its impact on the 1979 general election. The role of the media coverage of the British 'winter of discontent' raises a number of interesting historical and methodological questions. The book focuses on how the media including the national and local press, television and radio, reported the causes, character and impact of 'winter of discontent' in Britain. Press hostility towards the unions was particularly unrestrained during the industrial unrest of September 1978 to March 1979, at a time when trade union membership peaked at 13 million. Currently, the cultural, economic, social and political histories of the 1970s are being subjected to increasingly detailed scrutiny by historians and social scientists. From September 1978 to March 1979, the Callaghan government appeared to be swept by a wave of strikes, go-slows and industrial stoppages. The 'winter of discontent' has now become coded shorthand for poor economic performance, over-mighty union barons, industrial anarchy and an ailing Labour administration that, according to its political opponents, made Britain 'the sick man of Europe'.
The parliamentary Labour right and the ‘trade union question’
In Place of Strife?
The parliamentary Labour right
and the ‘trade union question’
Awareness of Britain’s relative economic decline led Social Democrats to a series of
economic questions, each of which involved trade unionism . . . It was in seeking
answers to these questions that . . . ‘The Old Order’ – the post-war consensus –
‘crumbled’ and the ﬁrst crack occurred in its weakest area – namely over the role
expected of trade unions . . . Where once Gaitskell and Crosland had urged that
legislation should be kept out of industrialrelations, now a signiﬁcant
The initial political response
The conservatism of the Donovan Report was deeply disappointing to
Harold Wilson and Barbara Castle. They had quietly hoped that the Royal
Commission would propose a major reform of industrialrelations, including
statutory curbs and obligations being imposed on the trade unions,
whereupon the predictable outrage by union leaders would be pacified
by the Labour Government’s announcement of a more modest package
of policy proposals (Ponting, 1990: 352; Tyler, 2006: 467). This tactic was
rather undermined by the fact that the
This book presents new theories and international empirical evidence on the state of work and employment around the world. Changes in production systems, economic conditions and regulatory conditions are posing new questions about the growing use by employers of precarious forms of work, the contradictory approaches of governments towards employment and social policy, and the ability of trade unions to improve the distribution of decent employment conditions. Designed as a tribute to the highly influential contributions of Jill Rubery, the book proposes a ‘new labour market segmentation approach’ for the investigation of issues of job quality, employment inequalities, and precarious work. This approach is distinctive in seeking to place the changing international patterns and experiences of labour market inequalities in the wider context of shifting gender relations, regulatory regimes and production structures.
This chapter outlines the contextual framework, within which German
and British trade union politics at Ford and General Motors evolved between the
late 1960s and the early twenty-first century. The chapter starts with a brief
sketch of the post-war development of the British and German automobile
industries, followed by a synthetic overview of the development of the two
national industrialrelations systems and the description of the specific trade
, rather than employers’ associations, for the political concern
was with the incidence and impact of unofficial and unconstitutional
strikes. Some senior Labour Ministers, including Prime Minister Harold
Wilson himself, had hoped that the Royal Commission, chaired by Lord
Donovan, would publish a report containing radical and far-reaching
proposals for reforming industrialrelations and trade unionism, whereupon
the Government could mollify trade union outrage by offering a rather
more modest and ‘reasonable’ package of reforms.
However, although the membership of the