chapter  5
23 Pages

Trade unions and non-standard employment

WithPhil James

Trade union membership has declined substantially across much, but not all, of the industrialized world (Ross et al. 1998). A variety of factors, the significance of which vary from country to country, have been identified as contributing to this pattern of decline, by both prompting membership loss and creating barriers to union recruitment (Waddington 2002). These include business cycle effects, the adoption of policies by employers aimed at undermining and excluding union organization, often through attempts to individualize employment relationships, and the pursuit by governments of legislative and other programmes that are intended to have a similar impact. Significantly for the present chapter, they also encompass a number of changes in the composition of employment, notably a shift of employment away from primary and manufacturing sectors towards private services, a growth of employment in smaller establishments and organizations, a rise in female labour market participation, a proportionate rise in the importance of non-manual work and, more particularly, an increase in various forms of non-standard employment.