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Employee Relation


4. Statistics show that the reward for being a trade union member is a significant wage premium. Why are so many workers reluctant to join a trade union?

Notes and Guidelines

Introduction to include
-Mentioning the significance of trade union
-Establishing that there is a wage premium being a union member.
-Talking about the relationship with trade union.

Findings to include

-Talk about reasons behind union decline- Key factors in the context
-Reasons why people are reluctant to join labour unions.
-Examples of key reasons to include some of the following

1) *Lack of appeal among younger generations
2) Arrangements of members to form substitutes of unions for example EU working councils.
3) The rise in Human Resource Management dealing with worker/ Labour issues.
4) Compensation culture e.g. no win no fee tribunals
5) Economic reasons in terms of how unions are proving their work ( membership fees)
6) Partnership programmes for example John Lewis, no more participation but employee involvement and partnership is very high.
7) Laws getting better etc.
8) Argument- Why specific industry or sector has an increased union membership.
9) Why female membership has increased.

Assessment Marking Grid for Employee Relations.
The key skills to be developed in this assignment are writing skills, analytical and evaluative skills. Skills of synthesis are important.
• The study must be clearly structured and well presented.
• The introductions must state and aim and explicitly identify the relevant arguments and areas to be addressed,
• These areas, once identified must be followed up logically in the main body of the study.
• There must be a firm conclusion of the areas discussed.

CONTENT• The contents must clearly relate to the area of study, and the learning outcomes being tested, and demonstrate originality and creativity.
• Knowledge and understanding must be applied to practice.
• Discussion of content indicates a thorough understanding of the topic
• Assessment Guidelines have been followed

• Areas must be clearly expressed, articulate and fluent
• Accurate spelling and grammar.

• There should be a clear critical analysis and synthesis of issues, which are well integrated and evaluated, as appropriate.
• Issues must be assessed fully with reference to appropriate literature
• Relevant solutions supported by a considered rationale must be suggested to solve the problems

• The study must demonstrate and appropriate use of academic literature/research, which is appropriate to the study.
• All key sources must be cited, and a consistent and accurate use of Harvard referencing system must be maintained.


Trade Unions have been the standard agent of voice depiction, Unions empower workers through collective representation and the results are exhibited in the form of better salaries and benefits, job security as well as better working conditions. A trade union can be referred to as a legislative system of uniting employees and rising voice collectively for economic and social benefits. In democratic countries, the organization and strength unions are tied up with political parties to function as self-regulating entities. According to (GUMBRELL et al, 2013; Colfer, 2014; Badigannavar et al, 2011) trade union is an economic association of employees. Thriving on the associations free collective bargaining, workers are free to choose the unions that most suits them.

The presence of trade unions is linked with collective bargaining by workers for collective bargainings such as higher wage rates, economic benefits, and wage premium benefits in order to improve the overall condition of the workers. It is quite notable that here is a huge difference between union and non-union workers wages which indicate the powerful strength of trade unions.  Wages set through collective bargaining is significantly higher from wages that employers set unilaterally for the workforce. The union gap shows the great significance of trade union in setting higher wages and, therefore, workers in a trade union benefits from the wage premium.

Globalization has weakened the bargaining position of trade unions because it increases the rate of substitution among employees by workers (McCann, 2013). With the development of technology and increasing Globalization, trade unions have been losing its strength and more workers are becoming reluctant to join trade unions.

In this backdrop, the paper critically and extensively analyzes the increasing weakening of trade unions strength. On the same note, conceptually analyze the underlying factors that make many workers reluctant to join trade unions.

Literature review

There have been numerous intensive researches on trade unions, wage differentials as well as wage premiums associated with trade union. According to (Farber et al, 2009) trade unions, considerably reduce wage disparity among workers. Fitzgerald et al (2010) found out that, in the UK unions reduce wage dispersion across particular labor market and also wage dispersion among workers working in the same factory. Trade unions also help in decreasing wage dispersion within the union sector. Clegg et al (2010) was able to point out that globalization has weakened the bargaining situation of unions as it increases the rate of substituting employees within an organization.  Full-time work is declining and part-time work in the form of contracts is on the rise leading to labor flexibility (Garden, 2011; Bieling et al., 2014; Erne, 2013). Hence, changes in employment contract weakening trade unions.

There has been an increasing number of employees across the world (Vandaele, 2013; Gumrell-McCommick et al., 2011). However, trade union membership surprisingly remains small (Molina et al, 2014). Some researchers have attributed this to positive outcomes and higher job satisfaction experienced by workers in the current contemporary employment age. According to  Keune(2015) work positions are not homogeneous but rather varied including contractual workers, agency workers, sub contractors and also self-employed individuals. Akkerman (2014) and Keune, 2015) pointed out that within these groups the level of skills hence, differentiation of labor market. Such variations have implication for union strategy in regard to a different working environment, workers attitudes and other factors that workers seek in unions (Voskeristian, 2012)

Research questions

  1. What are the reasons behind the decline in trade unions?
  2. Why are so many workers reluctant to join trade unions today?

Research philosophy

In order to develop and come up with accurate results, the paper explores the ideas by deduction method through examining changes in the labor markets, factors that contribute to workers reluctance to join trade unions. And finally, provide the findings in an empirical layout for ease of understanding.



The paper analyzes the general opinion and the recent tendency of workers being reluctant to join trade unions in the UK. In order to seek information on respondents personal state of affairs and their labor market status.  On the same note, to find out the underlying factors why workers are reluctant to join trade unions despite the benefits gained from the trade unions.  The analysis will be done based on a sample of 150 randomly chosen workers from different factories. The survey questionnaires will contain information on workers personal as well as job-related questions. The samples are randomly chosen within the selected categories and the numbers of workers from a single firm are restricted to at most 15 so as to cover more industries.

The paper uses qualitative data to find out the variables that will be used to determine the reasons for the declining number of workers in trade unions. On the same note, the tendency of reluctance among workers to join trade unions, and finally find out the key reasons why employees are reluctant to join trade unions.

To ensure that ethics in data collection is followed, confidentiality will be of utmost importance. The questionnaires are scrutinized to make sure there is no question that relates to the worker’s individual data. For instance workers specific names, personal data or addresses. Secondary materials used o prepare this research paper is properly cited also to ensure that ethics is observed

Findings and Discussions

Out of the 150 randomly selected workers who answered the questionnaires, 40% are in trade unions. The 40% of workers who have joined trade unions sighted the reason that there are existing established trade unions and association readily available for them. To join after completing their career studies and even before they landed a job. The cause of workers cannot be directly attributed to the availability of trade unions within the nation. Of the 40% of workers who are in trade unions, 28% are women and 12% are men. The women attributed that they liked the way trade unions champions for them in cases of job discrimination based on gender, sexual harassment, etc.

The remaining 60% have never joined trade unions. The main reason for not joining a trade union is because of a varied job description in the workplace. Some sighted the reason that there are few unions that fit them to join.

Of the 60% who never joined the trade unions,45% are less than 35 years of age. This group commented that they are satisfied with their job conditions and feel that trade unions. It was noted also that, in this group of young people there are numerous and varied job description and few trade unions that specifically fits their job description. They are not also satisfied with the way trade unions to run their affairs; they feel that the membership fee is expensive considering the prevailing harsh economic conditions.

It is of paramount importance to note that most of the young employees are in contractual jobs or have not established permanent jobs. They are mostly outsourced by organizations to work within their framework. The freelancing labor market is not gathered for within trade union framework. Advancement of technology as seen young generation working as freelancers with little or no regulation from labor association and payment entirely depends on bidding and the notion that the best bidder with exceptional skills wins.

Most of the employees who never joined trade unions provided the reason that they are satisfied with the way the human resource department of their respective industries is dealing with employment issues. Such as disputes between them and employers, fair job promotions based on individual skills and experienced. They also hinted that they are satisfied with the payment terms in their employment contract. And they don’t see the reason they should join trade unions.

Some of the respondents stated that they were confident of the way the employment law handle employment issues. They believe that the law is there to protect them against unjust treatment and to ensure that employers pay them according to the minimum wage requirements.

Most of the workforces in the labor market are in temporary contractual jobs (67%) as compared to permanent employment (33%). Of those in contractual jobs, very few are in trade unions because their jobs are not permanent but just for a few months or years.

However, it is notable, that there has been an increase in trade union membership. Especially for workers working in health sectors such as nurses trade unions, doctors association etc. On the same note, there is a significant increase in the number of workers joining trade unions in education industries. Teachers, lecturers, and other education tutors have an active union who are active in labor fronts championing for their members increased salaries and better salaries.



The restructuring of labor and increasing differentiation of labor has changed the way trade unions operate (Molina et al, 2014). The existence of unregulated alternative labor poses a threat to the existence of labor unions. Realistically, these changes associated with globalization have put insurmountable pressure on terms and conditions of trade unions. To a greater proportion, weakening trade unions collective bargaining power by reducing the probable impact of halting of production process resulting from industrial action most employed by trade unions to enforce their terms.

By and large, proactive employment policies pursued in the strategic agreement frameworks with the employees and subcontract firms have proved to be winning in the supply of unregulated labor with no risk. The changes within the labor fronts have disputed the notion that employment outcomes are pre-determined, and the believe that the ultimate way to champion for better pay and good working conditions is by labor unions and industrial action (GUMBRELL-MCCORMICK et al., 2013)

The rise of well developed human resource conceptual framework with proper set procedures to solve individual disputes between an employer and employee has seen that employees are satisfied with the terms laid down in the employment contract. Advancement of law within employment contract has weakened the monopoly actions employed by trade unions and therefore limiting their power within the labor front (Colfer, 2014).

Consequently, the trade union should institutionalize broad strategies to accommodate the contemporary changes within the labor market framework by conceptualizing on ways to assist the transitioning seen in the labor markets. Most employers prefer to employ free unregulated labor based on short term contractual terms. Trade unions should build up strategies to accommodate short-term contract employees. Based on the technological advancement, the trade union should engage in a massive awareness campaign to sensitize workers to their existence and inform on their importance for the workers to increase the turnout and increased membership.

Trade union should also integrate other economic activities apart from championing for improved pay and better working conditions. Incorporating banking services such as advancing salary loans to its members, providing saving accounts and insurance services will perpetuate the existence of trade unions (Bieling et als., 2014). Restructuring the trade union terms and conditions for the admission of members serves as an incentive to increased membership.

Development subcontracting as seen in outsourcing and alliance between firms in conducting business has changed forms of labor. Many organizations provide jobs to freelancers who care less about the existence of trade unions. Realistically, the existence of trade union in such labor markets is next to zero. Ideally, trade unions should develop structures to accommodate and serve such labor markets since it offers great potential to the tremendous success of trade unions in the future.




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Colfer, B. (2014, September). Paper presented at the ECPR General Conference, September 4th, 2014. In Paper presented at the ECPR General Conference.

McCann, D. (2013). Economic Democracy: A Feasible Strategy for Political Economic Reform in Europe?.

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