Institutionalisation and Industrial Infrastructure
WE have already registered strong agreement with the basic thesis that the development of procedural norms for the regulation of industrial relations is associated with a reduction of strike activity. Quite simply, such norms become an alternative means of resolving conflict. However, strike activity is not related exclusively to the level of institutionalisation of industrial conflict. For example, economists have met with a degree of success in relating economic ‘factors’ to variations in workers’ material demands and positions of power and, in turn, to variations in strike rates. Such studies have focused on both the ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ levels. On the one hand, it has been argued that fluctuations in the economy such as the business cycle are among the major determinants of strike activity. Depression and high levels of unemployment are said to weaken labour’s bargaining power and consequent inclination and ability to strike. Conversely, prosperity and full employment are said to enhance the workers’ power to an extent that they strike quite readily.1 At best, this kind of approach offers only a partial explanation of the problem: as other writers have pointed out, not all measures of strike rates are equally well correlated with fluctuations in the economy.
KeywordsCollective Bargaining Industrial Relation Relative Deprivation Labour Movement Strike Activity
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