Advertisement

Workplace Participation in Britain, Past, Present, and Future: Academic Social Science Reflections on 40 Years of Industrial Relations Change and Continuity

  • Peter Ackers
Chapter

Abstract

Works Councils and other forms of statutory workplace consultation play a significant role in many European countries. This has never been true in the British Industrial Relations system. Instead, employers and the state encouraged voluntary collective bargaining from the late nineteenth century onwards. Pluralist academics responded by redefining Industrial Democracy as ‘joint regulation’ by management and trade unions. Other participation forms were marginalized, until Thatcherism and 1980s union decline saw the emergence of weak, managerial employee involvement. Holding fast to the single-union channel, British unions have missed opportunities to spread workplace participation, notably within the EU. Drawing on personal research, I explain the relative failure of active, constructive participation in Britain, notwithstanding some successful workplace partnership agreements.

Keywords

Industrial relations history Industrial democracy Worker participation Employee involvement Employee engagement Consultation Trade unions 

Bibliography

  1. Ackers, P. (1981). Redundancy and Collective Bargaining. MA Dissertation, Warwick.Google Scholar
  2. Ackers, P. (1988). Changes in Workplace Industrial Relations in West Midlands Manufacturing Industry in the 1980. MPhil Thesis, Wolverhampton Polytechnic (CNAA).Google Scholar
  3. Ackers, P. (2002). Reframing Employment Relations: The Case for Neo-pluralism. Industrial Relations Journal, 33(1), 2–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ackers, P. (2007). Collective Bargaining as Industrial Democracy: Hugh Clegg and the Political Foundations of British Industrial Relations Pluralism. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 45(1), 77–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ackers, P. (2010). An Industrial Relations Perspective on Employee Participation. In A. Wilkinson, P. J. Gollan, M. Marchington, & D. Lewin (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Participation in Organizations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Ackers, P. (2012). The Warwick School of Industrial Relations. Work, Employment and Society, 26(5), 879–882.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ackers, P. (2014a). Rethinking the Employment Relationship: A Neo-pluralist Critique of British Industrial Relations Orthodoxy. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 25(18), 2608–2625.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ackers, P. (2014b). “Gramsci at the Miners” Strike: Remembering the 1984–1985 Eurocommunist Alternative Industrial Relations Strategy. Labor History, 55(2), 151–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ackers, P. (2015). Trade Unions as Professional Associations. In S. Johnstone & P. Ackers (Eds.), Finding a Voice at Work? New Perspectives on Employment Relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Ackers, P. (2016a). How My Grandad, the Churches of Christ and the Steam Engine Makers Society Lifted Our Family into the Professional Classes: An Essay in Social Science Biography. In A. Wilkinson, D. Hislop, & C. Coup (Eds.), Perspectives on Contemporary Professional Work. London: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  11. Ackers, P. (Ed.). (2016b). Symposium: The Oxford School of Industrial Relations: Fifty Years After the 1965–1968 Donovan Commission. Historical Studies in Industrial Relations, 37, 201–235.Google Scholar
  12. Ackers, P. (2017). Waving Not Drowning: British Industrial Relations in the Twenty-First Century. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 55(3), 672–675.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ackers, P. (2018). Saving Social Democracy? Hugh Clegg & the Post-War Programme to Reform British Workplace Industrial Relations: Too Little, Too Late? In S. Berger & M. Boldorf (Eds.), Social Movements and the Change of Economic Elites in Europe After 1945 (pp. 257–277).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ackers, P., & Payne, J. (1998). British Trade Unions and Social Partnership: Rhetoric, Reality and Strategy. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 9(3), 529–550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ackers, P., & Payne, J. (2000). Through a Glass Darkly: Deciphering the Colliery Consultation Minutes of the Nationalised British Coal Industry, 1947–74. Labour History Review, 65(1), 59–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ackers, P., & Reid, A. (2016). Alternatives to State-Socialism in Britain: Other Worlds of Labour in Twentieth-Century Britain. Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ackers, P., Marchington, M., Wilkinson, A., & Goodman, J. (1992). The Use of Cycles? Explaining Employee Involvement in the 1990s. Industrial Relations Journal, 23(4), 268–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ackers, P., Smith, C., & Smith, P. (Eds.). (1996). The New Workplace and Trade Unionism. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Ackers, P., Marchington, M., Wilkinson, A. J., & Dundon, T. (2005). Partnership and Voice, with or Without Trade Unions: Changing UK Management Approaches to Organisational Participation. In M. Stuart & M. M. Lucio (Eds.), Partnership and Modernisation in Employment Relations (pp. 23–45). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Ackers, P., Marchington, M., Wilkinson, A. J., & Dundon, T. (2006). Employee Participation in Britain: From Collective Bargaining and Industrial Democracy to Employee Involvement and Social Partnership – Two Decades of Manchester/Loughborough Research. Decision (IIM Calcutta), 33(1), 75–88.Google Scholar
  21. Bassett, P. (1986). Strike Free: New Industrial Relations in Britain. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  22. Budd, J. (2005). Employment Relations with a Human Face: Balancing Efficiency, Equity and Voice. Ithaca/London: Cornell.Google Scholar
  23. Bullock, A. (1977). Report of the Committee of Inquiry on Industrial Democracy. Department of Trade, HMSO: Cmnd 6706.Google Scholar
  24. Clegg, H. A. (1960). A New Approach to Industrial Democracy. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  25. Clegg, H. A. (1985). A History of British Trade Unions Since 1889. Volume 2: 1911–1933. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Clegg, H. A. (1994). A History of British Trade Unions Since 1989, Volume 3: 1933–1951. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Clegg, H. A., Fox, A., & Thompson, A. F. (1964). A History of British Trade Unions Since 1989. Volume 1: 1889–1910. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Currie, R. (1979). Industrial Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. (2016a). Trade Union Statistics. https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/trade-union-statistics. Accessed 15 Mar 2017.
  30. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. (2016b). Corporate Governance Reform. Green Paper. Available from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/584013/corporate-governance-reform-green-paper.pdf. Accessed 15 Mar 2017.
  31. Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. (2013). Workplace Employment Relations Study (WERS). https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/workplace-employment-relations-study-wers. Accessed 14 Mar 2017.
  32. Dobbins, T., & Dundon, T. (2015). The EU Information and Consultation Directive in Liberal Market Economies. In S. Johnstone & P. Ackers (Eds.), Finding a Voice at Work? New Perspectives on Employment Relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ch. 12.Google Scholar
  33. Donovan Report: Royal Commission on Trade Unions and Employers’ Associations, 1965–1968. (1968). London: House of Commons.Google Scholar
  34. Dundon, T., & Wilkinson, A. (2016). Employee Involvement and Participation. In A. Wilkinson, T. Redman, & T. Dundon (Eds.), Contemporary Human Resource Management: Text and Cases (5th ed.). Harlow: Pearson. Ch. 16.Google Scholar
  35. Flanders, A. (1964). The Fawley Productivity Agreements: A Case Study of Management and Collective Bargaining. London: Faber.Google Scholar
  36. Giddens, A. (1987). Social Theory and Modern Sociology. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  37. Greene, A.-M. (2015). Voice and Workforce Diversity. In S. Johnstone & P. Ackers (Eds.), Finding a Voice at Work? New Perspectives on Employment Relations (pp. 67–94). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hall, P. H., & Soskice, D. (2001). Varieties of Capitalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Heery, E. (2016). Framing Work: Unitary, Pluralist, and Critical Perspectives in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hobsbawm, E. J. (Ed.). (1981). The Forward March of Labour Halted. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  41. Howell, C. (2005). Trade Unions and the State: The Construction of Industrial Relations Institutions in Britain, 1890–2000. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Hutchinson, S., & Sutcliffe, F. (2013). ‘Trade Unionism After the Crash’, an Interview with the TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady. Renewal, 21, 2–3, 87–94.Google Scholar
  43. Hyman, R. (1975). Industrial Relations: A Marxist Introduction. London: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Johnstone, S. (2015). The Case for Workplace Partnership. In S. Johnstone & P. Ackers (Eds.), Finding a Voice at Work? New Perspectives on Employment Relations (pp. 153–176). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Johnstone, S., & Ackers, P. (Eds.). (2015). Finding a Voice at Work? New Perspectives on Employment Relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Johnstone, S., & Wilkinson, A. (Eds.). (2016). Developing Positive Employment Relations. Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  47. Marchington, M., Goodman, J., Wilkinson, A., & Ackers, P. (1992). New Developments in Employee Involvement. Employment Department Research Series No. 2. London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  48. Marchington, M., Wilkinson, A., Ackers, P., & Dundon, T. (2001, September). Management Choice and Employee Voice, London: Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD).Google Scholar
  49. Middlemas, K. (1979). Politics in Industrial Society. London: Andre Deutsch.Google Scholar
  50. Perkin, H. (1989). The Rise of Professional Society. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  51. Peters, T. J., & Waterman, R. H. (1982). Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  52. Poole, M. (1986). Towards a New Industrial Democracy: Workers’ Participation in Industry. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  53. Ramsay, H. (1977). Cycles of Control: Worker Participation in Sociological and Historical Perspective. Sociology, 11(3), 481–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Schumacher, E. F. (1974). Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as If People Mattered (p. 62). London: Abacus.Google Scholar
  55. Simms, M. (2015). Union Organizing as an Alternative to Partnership. Or What to Do When Employers Can’t Keep Their Side of the Bargain. In S. Johnstone & P. Ackers (Eds.), Finding a Voice at Work? New Perspectives on Employment Relations (pp. 127–152). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Simms, M., Holgate, J., & Heery, E. (2013). Union Voices, Tactics and Tensions in UK Organizing. Ithaca: ILR Press.Google Scholar
  57. Sparrow, A., Elgot, J., & Davies, R. (2016, July 11). Theresa May to Call for Unity, Equality and Successful Exit from EU. The Guardian. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/11/theresa-may-to-call-for-unity-equality-and-successful-exit-from-eu. Accessed 15 Mar 2017.
  58. Storey, J. (1989). New Perspectives on Human Resource Management. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  59. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Factsheet, Employee Voice (2013). Available from https://www.paydata.co.uk/sites/default/files/CIPD%20Employee%20Voice%20Factsheet.pdf. Accessed 15 Mar 2017.
  60. Timming, A. R., & Whittall, M. (2015). The Promise of European Works Councils: Twenty Years of Statutory Employee Voice. In S. Johnstone & P. Ackers (Eds.), Finding a Voice at Work? New Perspectives on Employment Relations (pp. 218–238). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Tuckman, A. (2016, December 1). Email Sent to Peter Ackers.Google Scholar
  62. Webb, S., & Webb, B. (1897). Industrial Democracy. London: Longmans, Green and Co.Google Scholar
  63. Wilkinson, A., & Barry, M. (2016). Voices from Across the Divide: An Industrial Relations Perspective on Employee Voice. German Journal of HRM, 30, 3–4, 338–344.Google Scholar
  64. Williamson, J. (2016). All Aboard: Making Worker Representation on Company Boards a Reality. London: Trade Union Congress. Available from https://www.tuc.org.uk/economic-issues/corporate-governance/workplace-issues/all-aboard-making-worker-representation. Accessed 15 Mar 2017.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Ackers
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Loughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK
  2. 2.Griffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia

Personalised recommendations