chapter  7
27 Pages

The changing impact and strength of the labour movement in advanced societies

WithMike Rigby, Roger Smith, Chris Brewster

This chapter addresses the changing impact and strength of the labour movement in advanced societies. There are both evidential and conceptual difficulties involved here, but the task is an important one and worth the effort. Trade unions have been one of the bulwarks of a democratic society, in and beyond the workplace. We examine the pressures that the unions are facing; the evidence of the decline in their numbers and significance -exploring the meaning of power in this context, arguing that it may be both wider and more constrained than it appears. Finally, we conclude that there has been a decline in trade union power, that it is continuing, and that there is no evidence that this will be part of a cycle and union power will eventually be reestablished to any former level. We also note, however, that the trade unions will remain embedded in the fabric of advanced societies and will continue to play an important role in democratic processes.