Representation, consultation and the smaller firm
Recent reports (TUC, 2003), suggest that there is a growing trend for people to spend more of their time in the workplace, whether this is called presentism or a long hours culture seems irrelevant in terms of the overall outcome; work is taking over ever-increasing segments of daily life (Noon and Blyton, 2002). Yet, it continues to be a key area within which people have little say in relation to what they do, how they do it, when they do it and where they do it. Employment remains, within an allegedly democratic society, an area of social interaction within which people have few opportunities for an adequate voice in decisions pertaining to a central life activity. There is, in effect, a representation gap (Towers, 1997) where few have influence over the choice of management or upon the strategic direction of the organisation for which they expend their labour and upon which they rely for their future livelihood. Freeman and Rogers (1999:39), exploring views upon this issue, found that employees wanted greater input in workplace decisions and sought greater influence in key areas such as finance, strategy, departmental goals, training, work schedules and the distribution of rewards. It was also found that, in general, the better educated the employee, the more hours (annually) they worked plus, the greater length of their permanent status with an organisation, the greater the desire for more input on such workplace decisions.