The decline in trade unions during the last twenty five years is due

primarily to empowerment. "

For some two decades now, it's been common to make reference to an emergency of

trade unionism. What the near future retains for labour moves, or indeed,

whether they have even a future, seems significantly uncertain. For

many trade unionists as well as academics, unions generally in most countries

appear as patients of external pushes outside their control, and often

also of their own traditional inertia. It has certainly been the

case in britain.

Having survived unemployment, legal episodes, privatisation,

deregulation and all the other onslaughts of Capital during the

Thatcher/Major years, the trade union movements is needing to come to

terms with a new, subtle, but possibly far-reaching task under

the guise of the 'new management techniques', described by one

writer as "avoiding trade unions by kindness". [1]

Before we begin it's important to define just what a Trade Union actually

is, Salamon 1998 p. 85[2], details it as "any group whose

membership consists of employees which seek to organize and represent

their pursuits both at work & in cultureto regulate the

employment marriage thru collective bargaining with management"

The goals of Trade Unions include, bettering the working conditions and

experience of its customers, negotiation of remuneration e. g. pay,

benefits and pension plans, dealing with deals of occupation,

health & safeness at work, training, job security amidst other issues

which include pressure teams against authorities and discrimination.

The decrease of union account has many triggers such as changes in the

economy that have led to fewer male industrial unskilled employees and

the fall off of the manufacturing sector has also added. In the

last 2 decades the trade union movements has declined by more than

half and this drop accelerated in the l990s. From a peak of nearly

14 million associates in l970s, the TUC now only presents significantly less than 7

million individuals, one in four of the workforce.

The union movements argues a substantial variety of non-union

members would still like unions to discuss on their behalf. But for

many younger people with no experience of unionism the idea of

collective action has lost any so this means[3]. Techniques associated with

the terms Individuals Source Management (HRM), Total Quality Management

(TQM) have grown to be the norm in the UK, as they have in Japan, the USA,

and in many elements of Europe. The further introduction of empowerment

within business organisations in addition has played an extremely significant role

in improving workplace and employee romantic relationships.

For trade unions, the progress of HRM has posed a number of new

problems, sometimes challenging the fundamentals of company or

purpose, and other times providing a guarantee of a fresh relationship role.

Some of the political and ideological limits of trade unionism in

capitalist society, which has formed area of the Marxist controversy on

trade unionism, have been subjected to these new techniques, which

operate at the ideological as well as the industrial level. [4]

The rules of empowerment are developed from those of Kaizen, a

Japanese management strategy. People doing the job learn about it

than other people does. It is the responsibility of management to

create a host in which that knowledge is brought out and used

for the benefit for people and the business. Empowerment is an

enabling process that gets rid of unnecessary limitations from personnel at

all levels. It moves the responsibility for control from the manager

to the team. It really is a move from reliance on control through systems and

bureaucracy towards control through trusting.

Empowerment makes the business enterprise more effective by making the best use

of its human resources. It also makes peoples jobs more important and

liberating, and therefore more motivating. The great things about empowerment

include improved quality of service, ensures that the organisation is

effective, demands or questions are dealt with faster because of the

removal of bureaucracy.

Employee empowerment is an essential aspect when considering human

resource management. The inability of employers to give employees an

opportunity to take part in decisions impacting their welfare 'may

encourage union account'. [5] It really is widely believed that certain reason

managers begin staff involvement programs and seek to empower their

employees is to 'avoid collective action by employees'. [6] Employee

empowerment supplies the employers and the employees the opportunity to be on

the same level, as they say. Empowerment allows these to help make

decisions that have an impact on themselves, as well as, the business. Basically,

through empowerment, employers and employees are in a win-win

situation. The 'employees feel just like they can be needed and sought, while

the employers gain satisfaction through their wealth'. [7]

Japanese companies hadn't only efficient systems of production and

organisation, (the 'hard' design of HRM), but experienced also concentrated on

winning the 'hearts and intellects' of staff (the 'delicate' style), which in

the west have been mainly catered for by personnel' out-of-work

interests, and perhaps, by activism in the trade unions.

The 'hard' style (below the brand) represents the company strategy and

its management of resources, the company structure and its system of

production. With regard to the 'delicate' style, (above the range), skills

represent all the skills of the workers, not just those that they are

prepared to use in the alienated environment of the office, but

those that they keep for themselves, at home, in leisure or in their

own political pursuits. [8]

Up until recently UKorganisations were not implementing the 'soft'

approach, thus going out of employees susceptible to change and

dissatisfaction. This lead to them getting started with trade unions, behind whom

they could hide and feel some sense of representation.

These management techniques straight assault problems, and seek to fill

the ideological vacuum with a bunch of ideas centred around bring

workers on board with the organisation's competitiveness problem, and

incorporating workers in to the company's goals.

Herzberg argued that job factors could be categorized as to whether

they contributed generally to satisfaction or dissatisfaction'. [9]

There are conditions, which result in dissatisfaction amongst

employees when they aren't present. If these conditions are present,

this will not necessarily motivate employees. Second there are

conditions, which when present in the job, create a strong level of

motivation that can result in good job performance. Empowerment brings

out this level of satisfaction in employees. On the other hand, Guest

(1987) argued under 'high dedication management' personnel would be

committed to management's eye-sight, and this management would favour

individual contracts over collective contracts as a mean of

furthering worker dedication and dependence, thus making unions

redundant. Two totally conflicting views, both indicating that their

implementation will lead to higher worker satisfaction and

therefore add to the craze of the union's drop. My personal view

would mirror that of Herzberg. A unitary view states that turmoil is

undesirable and do not need to occur this is the view of HRM and is also adopted

in empowerment, as appose to a pluralist view which suggests conflict is

the inevitable outcome of different hobbies within the organization but

especially between managerial and non-managerial personnel. However,

conflict can be maintained within acceptable bounds through the

establishment of appropriate mediation and arbitration body both

within and outside the firm. Trade unions play a major role when a

pluralist view is adopted by the company.

Carphone Warehouse PLC, market innovator in the mobile

telecommunications industry, can be an organisation who have adopted the

Japanese management style of HRM and empowerment. The company has

experienced significant growth since its labor and birth in the mid 90's.

Initially all decision making was central, but as the company and its

demands grew, it adopted the more desirable decentralised model. This

was done by splitting the, now 500, retail retailers in to various

divisions and allocating divisional and area managers to each one.

However the low mangers, those who maintained the shops and their

supervisors, got complete decision making power, regarding the

operation of the store and customers, so long as these were mirrored

with the company's aims. The empowerment strategy has overall

improved the grade of service, increased personnel desire and sense

of belonging and most importantly ensured the effectiveness of the

organisation. [10]

Empowerment accounts for only a portion of the decrease in trade

unions, there are several other issues which have also added to

saga. The demise of the socialist left in the Labour, especially with

the surge of Thatcherism and right wing regulations of the 1980's and

1990's, severely afflicted trade unions who, in the 1960's and 1970's,

had adequately represented employers. Personnel, thus, united behind,

and along with, trade unions as a way to tone concerns where their

individual power to seek changes was limited. Thatcherism halted this

tradition with the advocacy of independence and laissez-faire

economics where there was to be nominal governmental disturbance in

the lives of individuals. With this style having multiply across two

decades, powers of trade unions has reduced to a certain degree.

Britain's trade unions, therefore, have confronted an uncertain future.

Since the previous Labour government remaining office in 1979, they have

endured an unrelenting decrease in their electricity and affect.

Education, as a means to educate a labor force from an unskilled to a

skilled labour push has, furthermore, embedded a degree of power

within the individual and therefore consensus within a trade union has been

reduced. Workers, it can be argued, have obtained the ability to

represent themselves and because of this the energy of trade unions may

have declined.

In lines with these, the actual composition of the occupation force

has differed the nature of trade unions; namely the rise of

self-employment, consequently of an informed workforce it can be

argued, has prevented trade union, as witnessed back the 1970's, to

emanate. Furthermore, the impact of privatisation, as a result of the

Conservative Party guidelines, has, to a certain extent, diminished the

ability for trade unions to originate as they are most commonly

associated with the public sector employees.

Furthermore the decline to the UK processing sector, which in

history contained the most powerful trade unions, has added even

more with their demise. Globalisation has performed a substantial role in

the deterioration, as many company's are moving workforces around

the world to shrink profit margins.

The UK trade union activity looked like at the height of its forces in the

l970s, decreasing governments and recruiting an incredible number of new

members, but since the election of 'The Iron Sweetheart' Margaret Thatcher

in 1979, union account has fallen every year (a 22% falling

membership since 1989) although rate of decline is now slowing. She

was adamant in lowering the amount of electric power that was available to

trade unions and no-one can claim that she was not successful in doing

just that. Further legislation like the 1980 Job Act restricted

secondary picketing, legal redress for employees expelled from unions

for refusing to join a sealed shop. [11]

As outlined, empowerment delegates the responsibility and decision

making electric power through the hierarchy of the company. Above all this

process strengthens the relationship between the employer and

employee. Improving employer and employee relationships is an integral factor

when evaluating the drop of trade unions. This is because trade

unions are a body which signify the needs of the employee.

More and even more companies in the united kingdom are implementing the latest and most

effective management techniques such as Individual Tool Management,

thus keeping up with all of those other world. Invention and

implementation have prompted a pattern which seems to be contagious,

Total Quality Management is another technique employed by organisations to

improve relations using its employees & most important of all the

effectiveness of the strategies have became successful.

Subsequently trade unions have suffered and we'll see this continue

to happen. However empowerment is not the only real factor that has business lead to

this decline, as layed out in the statement, a strong conservative

government has performed its view on trade union vitality, since Thatcherism.

Furthermore changes in the structure of employment, such as the

deindustrialisation and downsizing of the processing sector e. g.

Ford Motors shutting their famous Dagenham Seed and the virtual

extinction of the mining industry, opposed with the continuing

expansion of the service sector and the job offered within it.

The deregulation of the labour market and the impact of privatisation

have affected the quantity of younger workers becoming a member of trade unions.

Macroeconomic factors include, the bigger key of unemployment in the

1980's and early on 1990's and the lower average price inflation. The

derecognising of unions by some employers, the impact of Employment

Acts influencing unions e. g. the 1988 Occupation Take action which made

disciplining of non-strikers by unions unlawful. A far more recent example

is globalisation; increased international competition has business lead to

relocation of developing to Newly Industrial Countries (NICs). [12]

Trade Unions will continue to suffer from, not only from empowerment but

also from the other concern listed above. However one seems that the

unions will still be around in the years to come especially in the

public sector. Other issues relating to the increasing cynicism about

the corporate and business system e. g. downsizing, salary inequality, scandals such

as Enron, and WorldCom, the growing issue of stress at work, EU

legislation strengthening trade union privileges. Pressure for

unionisation in the 'new' market. Coping with these issues will

require representation which is where the unions will continue to

play their part. [13]

Trade unions will endure, and will outlive these management

techniques. However, an innovative, aware and almost all of all combative trade

unionism is a n essential need to meet the challenge of the new

management techniques.

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