9 pages/≈2475 words
Literature & Language
Decline in strike activity (Essay Sample)
Discuss the view that the decline in strike activity over recent years means that conflict between employers and workers is no longer a significant feature of present day human resource management. source..
Decline in Strike Activities Name: Course: Professor Name: (January 10, 2014) Decline in Strike Activities Strikes are characterized by temporarily halting work in enforcing a particular demand or in expressing grievances. Strike activities have been declining with time in the Europe and also in the United States, and few employees are joining trade unions as compared to earlier decades. Surveys indicated that strike activity is characterized with the numerical measure of the activities related with strikes. In the Ireland, strike activity data are gathered by the Central Statistic Office and the Department of Enterprise and Employment Monitoring Unit. Different jurisdictions have bodies that gather data relating to strike activities. It has been noted that the strike activities are characterized with workers involved in strikes, the overall number of strikes in a particular period and on the number of days that are lost as a result of the strike. Reduction in strike activities does not necessarily indicate that the conflict between employers and employees are no longer in place, it depends on context. Measure of workers involved in the strike activity is critical in defining the trends and impact of the strikes to either diminishing or increasing (Reid, 2005: 302). In most surveys, it has been noted that strikes lasting for only a day are not included in the computations of the strike activities, a model that affects the accuracy of the data compiled. In most cases, strikes are considered if they last for at least ten days. Record keeping depends on the trade unions, employers and other stakeholders in reporting the strikes to the relevant authorities (Fletcher, 2012: 110). There are chances that some strikes that happen in Europe and in the United States go unreported, hence not counted. Analyst of the strike activity argues that organizations of the twenty first century value the contributions of the human capital to the organization (Berman et al, 2012: 299). Some organizations support the argument that human capital is one of the most important resources within the firm. The majority of organizations are sensitive on human capital and make sure that employees are motivated and valued, which is part of building a competitive edge. The improved relationship between employees and the employers is ever increasing, hence alleviating conflicts that result to strike activities (Reid, 2005: 54). Most strikes are related to pay issues, many governments have formulated policies that foster a level playground for employees and employers, a model that reduces days lost through strikes and in reducing the overall number of strikes (Kelly & Willman, 2004: 177). Records gathered officially and unofficially on strike activities have indicated a significant reduction in the strike activities in the world. In 1950s and 1980s, the labour markets were characterized with industrial societies that were organised. Membership in many unions was increasing in many nations of the world, particularly with the developed nations. In some nations, the membership of the trade unions exceeded the labour force, which was influential in wage setting among other activities (Dray, 2011: 723). In the period between 1950s and 1980s, the period was characterised with increased strike activities. It is argued that the trade unions were weakened by the closure of many industries and mass unemployment, among other factors (Fletcher, 2012: 119). Defeats of trade unions in disputes led to decreasing membership as more and more employees lost trust with the unions. Examples of defeated trade unions identify with Miners 1984, Steel 1981 and P&Q of 1988 among others. Many employees were demoralized by the weakened trade unions, a factor that contributed to the reduced strike activity. United Kingdom trade union movement in the 1970s was very active and had powers over employers (Fernie & Metcalf, 2005: 202). The UK trade unions recruited many members and brought down government and organizations. Millions of members were active in the UK trade unions. In the 1980s, the activities of the UK trade unions reduced drastically as the membership of the trade unions recorded reducing numbers. Reducing powers of the trade unions were not only experienced in the United Kingdom but also in other parts of Europe and also in the United States. Elections of conservative party led to neo-liberal attacks targeting trade unions. It is argued that the period between 1979 -1999 in the United Kingdom; it recorded the lowest union membership in the history (Kelly & Willman, 2004: 164). There are various theories that explain the trends in the activities of the trade unions; it is argued that changing labour legislations, changing employment composition and changing macroeconomic conditions explain on reducing strike activities. Employers over centuries have been resisting trade unions, leading to incentives discouraging employees in joining trade unions. Decline in the trade union membership is attached to shift in prices, shift in unemployment and changes in wages (Dray, 2011: 555). It is also argued that shifting from manufacturing sectors to private sector services in many ways discouraged employees from joining trade unions, a factor that contributed to the weaknesses of the trade unions. In the 1970s, an average of one point six million workers took part in the strike activities. In 1980s, there were roughly one million workers taking part in strike activities and in the 1990s, there were less than eight hundred workers involved in the strike activities in the United Kingdom (Fernie & Metcalf, 2005: 176). The same trends were noted by the United States and other nations within the European Union. In the United Kingdom, unionization fell with over five million since 1979. The economy of the United Kingdom was weakened in the 1970s by the strike activities, to an extent that the strike activity was referred by the term ‘British disease’ (Kelly & Willman, 2004: 47). The labour government was negatively affected by the ‘British Disease’ to an extent that it had to borrow loans from the IMF (International Monetary Fund). The period was characterised with harsh work environments that resulted in reduction in public spending. Surveys indicated that in August 1977, the unemployment rates were so high that it reached to more than one point six million persons (Reid, 2005: 276). In 1978 and 1979, the period was characterised with labour disputes that led to labour unrest in the region. The period was characterised with different trade unions going on strike at the same period according to reports that were compiled by the BBC (Kelly & Willman, 2004: 160). Labour party lost the elections to the Conservative party that was led by Margaret Thatcher in 1979. Trade unions faced it rough with the changing business environment, unemployment was high to an extent that it was higher than the figures reported during recession (Yates, 2009: 43). Price and wage inflation affected trade unions negatively. Shift in wages also affected trade unions negatively, it has also been noted that strikes were high in the boom seasons and low in recessions. Unemployed workers contributed weak trade unions, and the bargaining powers were highly reduced (Dray, 2011: 485). In seasons of high employment, the bargaining powers of the trade unions were high, considering that replacing the employees in the work places was highly minimized, but in cases of unemployment, striking workers could easily be replaced by unemployed workers in the job market. In the United Kingdom, it was noted that most strikes happened in the boom periods lasted for few days since organizations negotiated with employees in solving the disputes (Fernie & Metcalf, 2005: 87). Mass unemployment in the business cycle resulted in poor bargaining powers and limited growth of the trade unions. It is argued that long term unemployment resulted in high costs in running the trade unions, which resulted to lower benefits of the trade unions. Mass unemployment resulted in deteriorated strike activities. The world in the twenty first century is facing mass unemployment, a model that is deteriorating the activities of the trade unions globally. The human population is ever increasing and the creation of the jobs in the global market is shrinking with time (Berman et al, 2012: 381). It is also argued that rising real wages in the economy result to declining strike activities. Improved wages results to improved living standards of the employees, and less involvement of the trade unions in the workplaces. Strikes occur if real wages drops as employees engage employers in improving the living standards. In 1980s, the period was characterised with improving economic standards for many parts of the world basing on the rapid growth in wages. It is argued that macroeconomics due to improved global economies influenced the trade unions negatively. There are different factors that affected the economic factors in the United Kingdom and in the world (Fernie & Metcalf, 2005: 156). Different industries were affected differently with some industries showing reduced strike activities while some industries showed increased strike activities. Declining employments resulted in declining membership of the trade unions, as more and more employees lost trust with the trade unions, many employees lost jobs while still members in the trade unions (Reid, 2005: 400). Surveys done in the United Kingdom indicated that the country privatized industries that were nationalized and deregulated product and service markets; a model that led to reduced bargaining powers on trade unions (Fernie & Metcalf, 2005: 145). The reforms affected productivity in technological change and in manufacturing. Globalization and socialization resulted to changing business trends in service industry taking shape with time. In 1980s and ...
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