Trade union’s changing role in the next 10 years in the United KingdomIntroductionTrade union movements in the United Kingdom are facing difficult challenges. The many challenges that union leaders are confronted with are hard and critical organizational challenges. These problems include frequent changes in the economy and structure of the society that lead to erosion of membership, difficulty in organizing unions that is brought by unfavorable and constantly changing political and institutional situations and the lack initiative to incorporate new social groupings and members into the unions (Hyman 2001, p. 54). Both the academic world and the unions themselves have recognised the changing face of unions and have acknowledged it as a problem that threatens to decrease the importance of these unions in both academic and political administrations (Hyman 2001, p.
56). However, there is a direct and in-depth relationship between union movements and welfare states. This is because unions were the basis in the formation of these welfare states. Consequently, these unions are rooted in the welfare states and a shift in the operations of welfare states would bring dire consequences to unions. Unions are very dependent on welfare states in many ways.
They gain more resources and income in cases of low member enrollment and little financial contributions due to the small number of members (Ebbinghaus and Visser, 2000, p. 67). In case of weak bargaining power emanating from low numbers, the unions draw strength from welfare states that comprise of many organizations that have better and stronger bargaining power (Ebbinghaus and Visser, 2000, p. 67). In addition, unions benefit through provision of ‘union securities’ by welfare states in all aspects of their operations.
This may be in the form of associations in the public sector or subsidies on insurance schemes provided by unions to members (Ebbinghaus and Visser, 2000, p. 69). In recent times, some unions have successfully prevented efforts to reform them while in others, union leaders are willing to consider the integration of unions to abide by the labour market policies that are in line with domestic and current international challenges. Since 1980, there have been calls for decentralization, a change in the way labour markets are regulated and provision of more flexible production methods.
These are some of the core challenges of industrial relations in the UK. All along, there have been attempts to moderate employee wages by organizations as a strategy to counter pressures that come from competition and as a way of cutting on the budget (Scruggs and Lange, 2002, p. 56). In most countries, the government has delegated the role of ensuring proper treatment of employees by organizations to welfare states that encompass union movements. As countries integrated and formed single blocks, intensified pressure on the role of welfare states led to expansion of welfare roles to cover employment issues and other critical issues of social concern such as employees’ pension plans (Scruggs and Lange, 2002,p. 67)).
The role of unions has changed over the years and there is a threat to more change that may lead to weaker powers by the union movements.