How Successful Was Margret Thatcher At Dealing With Industrial Relations History Essay

2076 words - 9 pages

How successfully did Margaret Thatcher deal with industrial relations?
Thatcher aimed to hinder the power that the trade unions had over industry in Britain and the legal power they held over the government. Thatcher inaugurated legislation as a means of diminishing the power of the unions. These laws were implemented with the intent of ending their restrictive practises and high labour costs in an attempt to make British firms more competitive, as previously business had been given to overseas companies in favour of their lower labour costs. In that respect Thatcher was largely successful. It was her legislation which greatly limited the legal power of the unions and her economic policy which significantly reduced the numerical power of the trade unions. Thatcher’s policies on industrial relations eventually lead to de-unionisation and despite the criticism of her policies regarding the miners’ strikes in 1984 Thatcher dealt with industrial relations significantly more successfully than her predecessors.
Thatcher enacted legislation that limited the power of the trade unions gradually, this gradual introduction of new laws on industrial relations rendered the trade unions increasingly less effective. Thatcher ensured trade unions would be unable to control government as they had with Heath and Callaghan. In 1971 the Industrial Relations Act, which was later repealed, imposed all of the measures necessary to restrict unions in a single act therefore making it easier for the trade unions to mobilise their opposition to the act. In lieu of this Thatcher opted instead for a piecemeal strategy, whereby she introduced measures that restricted trade unions stage by stage. The Employment Act of 1980 outlawed flying pickets and increased the rights of individual workers who refused to join unions. By outlawing secondary picketing Thatcher limited the number of strikes and also limits how workers in unions are able to strike, the Employment Act meant strikers were no longer able to dissuade of prevent non-striking workers and supplies from entering the place of work, thus rendering secondary picketing a less effective and less persuasive means of protest as the law ensures work may continue relatively unhindered by strike action from unions. The increasing of rights for workers who did not belong to a union not only discouraged workers from joining a union to begin with but encouraged workers to leave their unions in favour of more individual rights, this divided the workforce and created tensions between unions and workers. The divisions workers and the lack of unity between the unions weakened their position in government, Thatchers legislation was working to successfully restrict their practises and decreased the validity of strike action from unions. Following this, the Employment Act of 1982 made balloting before a strike a legal obligation which unions and companies had to uphold, meaning the democratic process within a union had the power to stop...

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