chapter  3
37 Pages

Unions in Britain: Towards a New Unionism?

Unions in Britain have long occupied an established and central position in the industrial and political landscape of the country. Established in the nineteenth century, unions went on to play an influential part in the establishment of the Labour Party and subsequent politics. However, the pattern of union recognition was not straightforward and unions developed out of the manufacturing, transport, and extractive industries, principally amongst manual workers, extending into other sectors, such as public sector, and non-manual workers, in the twentieth century. The highpoint of unionism occurred in the period following the Second World War, when trade unions became an integral part of the polity, when unions were recognized, membership expanded and union leaders were involved in the formulation of social and economic policy. It was only in the 1980s that this pattern of development and growth was ended, and British trade unions found themselves excluded from policy-formulation.