The Function of Trade Unions

Posted: 29 Feb 2008

See all articles by K. D. Ewing

K. D. Ewing

King's College London - The Dickson Poon School of Law


Trade unions have a number of functions, some of which have been more prominent than others at different periods in history. But over the course of time trade unions have developed five principal functions. These are respectively: a service function; a representation function; a regulatory function; a government function; and a public administration function. This paper examines these different functions and argues that the balance is shifting, with more emphasis being placed on service, governmental and public administration functions. We are witnessing the emergence of a new `supply side trade unionism` with a corresponding dilution of their representative and regulatory functions. These developments-engineered by governments of both parties in recent years-are assessed in the context of the Warwick agreement in 2004 where the trade unions and the Labour Party concluded a deal on the shape of a possible third term Labour government.

Keywords: civil incarceration, violent sexual offenders, probabilistic prediction of violence, expert statistical testimony

Suggested Citation

Ewing, K. D., The Function of Trade Unions. Industrial Law Journal, Vol. 34, Issue 1, pp. 1-22, 2005, Available at SSRN:

K. D. Ewing (Contact Author)

King's College London - The Dickson Poon School of Law

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