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Abstract:

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CEP Discussion Paper
New Survey Evidence on Recent Changes in UK Union Recognition
Jo Blanden, Stephen Machin and John Van Reenen
May 2005
Paper No' CEPDP0685:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: J51; K31; L25


Tags: unions; productivity; employment legislation

This paper reports results from a recent survey we conducted on the union status of over 650 firms in the private sector of the UK. Compared to earlier periods, the survey shows that since 1997 there has been a slight fall in derecognition, but a relatively large increase in union recognition. Almost 11% of firms report experiencing some new recognition, whilst 7% reported some derecognition. In the late 1980s new recognitions among similar firms were much lower (3% between 1985 to 1990 according to Gregg and Yates, 1991). In our survey, new recognitions were more prevalent in larger firms and in regions and industries where union membership was already high. New recognitions were less likely to have occurred in companies with higher wages, higher productivity and higher capital intensity. The ‘blip up’ in new recognitions is consistent with the idea that the incoming Labour government had a positive effect on the ability of unions to gain recognition, either through the 1999 legislation or more indirectly through changing the political climate.