The Representation Gap
Change and Reform in the British and American Workplace
For up to twenty years after World War II both in Britain and the US boasted 'mature' industrial relations systems supported by their governments and, allowing for some differences in degree, by most employers. Since the early 1980s, these systems have been critically weakened. This comparative industrial relations text explains this development primarily through the withdrawal of public policy support and, mainly in Britain's case, its replacement by government hostility. An important consequence of this is the erosion of the effective defence and representation of employee interests as the managerial prerogative has been allowed, even encouraged, to extend its authority in the workplace. The 'representation gap' has grown so that six out of seven US employees, and two out of three British, are not represented at work, at the same time as there has been increasing discussion of 'team' working etc. This could be a serious negative development for economic performance. A growing body of research is indicating that employers who bargain with trade unions, or enter into partnerships with them, are likely to be more productive than their non-union competitors.
More importantly, the size of the representation gap presents a clear denial of the democratic rights of citizens, in their role as employees, with potentially serious implications for social stability both within and beyond the workplace
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What Reviewers Are Saying
"Brian Towers' extensive analysis...is a thoughtful and comprehensive discussion of the economic and public policy issues relevant to the increase in the number of workers who are without workplace representation in both countries....This book employs sound scholarship, including a thorough review of the relevant literature, to make the case for expanded workplace representation....[Towers'] thesis is provocative, and his comparison of British and U.S. labor movements is instructive. There is much in this volume to consider concerning the immediate future of the trade union movements in both countries."--Labor Studies Journal