A Revised Role for Trade Unions as Designed by New Labour: The Representation Pyramid and 'Partnership'

23 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2002

See all articles by Tonia Novitz

Tonia Novitz

University of Bristol - School of Law


A key objective of British unions is to develop their representative role so as to establish their relevance to the workforce and thereby reverse the overall decline in trade union membership. To many, the legislative reforms undertaken by New Labour since 1999 offer some hope that this can be achieved. These reforms seem to provide a pyramid of representation, whereby trade unions can establish their relevance when they 'accompany' individual employees in grievance and disciplinary proceedings, and when they act as recipients of information and consultation. By attracting members in this fashion, there would seem to be the promise that unions can reascend to the position of recognized and effective parties in collective bargaining. However, this paper suggests that a barrier to the achievement of this objective is the particular conception of 'partnership' adopted by New Labour, which deviates from that of the Trade Union Congress. This 'partnership' is essentially individualistic in character, procedural in form, and unitary in specification. These characteristics are reflected in the relevant statutory and regulatory provisions and are therefore likely to inhibit the progression of a trade union to recognition in collective bargaining.

Suggested Citation

Novitz, Tonia A., A Revised Role for Trade Unions as Designed by New Labour: The Representation Pyramid and 'Partnership'. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=325111

Tonia A. Novitz (Contact Author)

University of Bristol - School of Law ( email )

Wills Memorial Building
Queen's Road Clifton
Bristol BS8 1RJ, BS8 1RJ
United Kingdom

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics