The Politics of Consultation
The Conservatives fought the 1970 election on industrial relations policies which had been publicly stated in some detail by the end of the previous year; but events in the months immediately before the election were to influence the reception accorded the policies when they were turned into legislative proposals. The first of these was the effective ending of wage restraint by the Labour Government at the end of 1969. The result was that the liberal bargain which the Tories hoped to strike with the unions — ending wage controls in return for the acceptance of new laws — was no longer possible. The second was associated with this: the months before the election saw an unprecedented rise in the level of pay awards and a sharp increase in the level of strikes.1 From a propagandist point of view this gave added point to the Tory critique of industrial relations; but the existence of severe wage inflation when the party took office meant that the bargain by which, in return for union consent to the new laws, government would engage in a self-denying ordinance with respect to wage determination was now very difficult to offer. After June the Government became more and more openly involved in a struggle over wage claims with the trade-union movement. Indeed the arguments between the unions and the Tories over the Industrial Relations Bill were only a part of a wider conflict.
KeywordsIndustrial Relation Pressure Group Resale Price Maintenance Bargaining Unit General Council
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- 12.On the ‘closed’ nature of the Document see Arthur Silkin, ‘Green Papers and Changing Methods of Consultation in British Government’, Public Administration, 1973, p. 437Google Scholar
- 31.John Gennard and Roger Lasko, ‘Supplementary benefits and strikers’, British Journal of Industrial Relations, 1974, pp. 1–25Google Scholar
- 32.Industrial Relations Bill, Consultative Document, (London: DEP, 1970) p. 3Google Scholar
- 37.On North American influences generally see R. C. Simpson and John Wood, Industrial Relations and the 1971 Act, (London: Pitman, 1973) pp. 64–66Google Scholar
- 59.A. J. Willcocks, ‘Decision making and interest groups in the National Health Service’, in Open University, Health, (Bletchley: Open University Press, 1972) p. 141Google Scholar