In the contemporary society approximately every second individual is working in the particular business entity or is hired by the individual. In fact, the significant portion of the employees do not have the proper working conditions, security, environment. Moreover, more than one billion of the people earn up to one dollar per day in order to survive in this complex world. In this regard, the economical development of the world is continuing while the limited amount of the people may enjoy completely the effects of the spread of this process. Given the injustice in the allocation of the available resources and the protection of the working conditions to the individuals, the relevant trade unions are created within different states with the purpose to protect the interests and needs of the employees. The historical evolution of the trade unions shows that these organizations should always address the social injustice in different communities against the strict policies of the owners of the business units, etc. However, there is no consensus between the experts as to the influence of the activity of the trade unions and their role in society. In particular, some professionals state that the trade unions perform the function in order to satisfy the needs of the privileged and limited category of the people employed in different units. From other perspective, the workers challenge the role of the trade unions in the particular society as it may lack the leverage in the pushing the owners to protect the rights of the workers. Therefore, this paper presents the overview of the countries with the different approaches to the understanding the role of the trade unions in the society. Initially the author dwells on the description of the framework of the activity of the trade unions in the United Kingdom and then proceeds to the examination of the position of the unions in the United States. The critical analysis of the performance of the trade unions is provided at the end of the paper.
Overview of Trade Unions in the United Kingdom
According to the legislation of the United Kingdom, the trade union should be understood as the organization compounded of the members which are employed in different organizations, business units. In fact, trade union should stand for the protection of the interests of the members included in the union and facilitate the promotion of the policies of the relevant importance to the particular workers (Brown, 2015, p.10). Besides, the trade unions should recognize the obligation to take care over all workers regardless of their membership. The origins of the trade unions take roots in the end of nineteenth century as the political leaders of the country have agreed with different employees that the foundation of the trade unions will be beneficial for the employees and employers. Moreover, in 1867 the British established the Trades Union Congress which should cover the activity of different unions within the country. However, the majority of the people did not think that the activity of these unions may be fruitful for the society as its nature was not clear for the ordinary citizens. Furthermore, the situation to the acceptance of the trade unions as the vital parts of the social environment has been changed since the twentieth century (Gall, 2004, p. 38). In particular, the International Labour Organization has developed the Freedom of Association Convention, which was adopted by the United Kingdom. In this respect, the United Kingdom should fulfill the responsibility under this legal act in order to protect the rights of the citizens as well as to act in the reasonable manner for the execution of the Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Abbott, 1998, p. 260). In order to understand the role of the trade unions in the society, one should take into account the following functions of these organizations:
Enter the negotiations with the employers regarding the salaries, payments and other working conditions for the satisfaction of the needs of the both parties of the working relations;
Consider the further amendments to the working environment of the employees;
Discuss the problems of the employees, the members of the unions with the employers;
Provide the assistance to the members of the unions during the disciplinary meetings;
Ensure the access of the members to the legal support and financial assistance (Gall, 2005, p.50).
The current theoretical and legal approach to the trade unions in the United Kingdom provides the employees with the opportunity and legal right to join any trade union under the premises of the business unit. At the same time, there is a huge variety of the trade unions available in the United Kingdom that perform the functions relevant for the particular spheres. With that, there are special trade unions protecting the interests of the teachers, aviators, etc. The right of the individual to join trade union does not depend on the fact whether this social organization is recognized by the society or not. Meanwhile, the legislators in the United Kingdom recognize that any individual can not be a subject of the discrimination due to his membership in any trade union. This approach is caused by the long-lasting practice prevailing in the society of the United Kingdom where the trade unions were treated as the criminalized organizations restricting the freedoms of the individuals. In the contemporary society today, no state body may limit the decision of the individual to have the proper working condition or strive for the protection of the legal rights with the help of the trade union. Accordingly, any person has the opportunity to stay beyond the membership in the trade union (Heery, 2002, p. 23). Besides, the experts in the United Kingdom believe that the cooperation with the trade union is beneficial for the government, employers and workers as the parties may reach the desired objectives without strikes in the amicable way (Heery and Simms, 2007, p. 29).
Consequently, the development of the British society shows that the amount of the unions in the country will be decreasing slowly. First of all, the policy of the Conservative Coalition in the government of the United Kingdom forces the people in the country to think over the benefits due to the membership in the trade union. Secondly, the government has developed the policy based on which the employees should pay significant fees for the consideration of the employment cases against different owners of the business units (Heery, Abbott and Williams, 2010, p. 66). Meanwhile, in 2015 the legislative body of the United Kingdom has adopted the Trade Union Bill. This law should introduce several amendments in the division of the rights and obligations of the employees and employers. From one point of view, this legal act undermines the role of the trade unions in the society as there are certain restrictions over the activity of the members in the business units. Moreover, the provisions of this legal instrument define that the trade union should issue special notice for the employers about the future strike. In addition, there are new challenges for the employees in the performance of the right to strike against the policy of the different employers. In this regard, it appears quite difficult to the employees to overcome the threshold related to the approval of the submission of the trade union for the strike (Kirton, 2014, p. 490).
Accordingly, there are several other innovative changes to the current legislation of the United Kingdom which should amend the role of the trade unions in the employment relations. In particular, the trade unions are requested to collect the payments for the political levy from all members with the purpose to cover it for the next five years. With that, any strike may be found unlawful in case some members of the union have not agreed to support it or the voting process was not held in the proper manner. Any strike within the territory of the United Kingdom should be strictly observed by relevant state authority with the purpose to prevent the violations of the legislation. Furthermore, the government is considering about the introduction of the limitations regarding the engagement of the workers in the internal activity of the trade unions so that to avoid the misrepresentation of the functions. In addition, the current legislation is aware about the special procedure when the special officer on behalf of the government may impose the fine over the trade unions in case this social organization can not report its activity under the rules established. Simultaneously, this certification officer can launch the investigation against the trade union for the consideration of the activity of this organization and the treatment to the workers.
Therefore, the state bodies of the United Kingdom attempts to change the existing system of the interaction between the political authorities in the country with the trade unions. Moreover, the consideration of the amendments to the legislation is stipulated by the political fights between the leading political parties in the country. Given this fact, one may assume that the Conservative party has the aim to undermine the position of the Labour party in the political arena of the United Kingdom. Although, it is difficult to state that the innovative amendments to the legislation will benefit the employment relations of the workers with the business units, while the role of the trade unions is challenged in the negative way. The overview of the historical evolution to the development of the position of the trade union in the British society presents the evidence, that these organizations have passed the complex path. Since the beginning, the government aimed to restrict the power of the trade unions, while this activity is not allowed by the major international legal acts as the European Convention on Human Rights. Besides, the trade unions are quite powerful in the United Kingdom as there are evident benefits which attract the new members to join these organizations. In particular, different surveys show that members of the trade unions within the territory of the United Kingdom may ensure the receipt of higher salary, between medical treatment and advantages in relation with the pension funding. Accordingly, certain level of the flexibility is available for the members of the trade unions in the comparison with the position of the workers not pertaining to the unions. In contrast, the experts state that membership in the trade unions may have the positive social effect on the development of the personality. In particular, the individual may feel himself as the active member of society due to the necessity to perform particular functions for the entire community. Furthermore, several trade unions attract the people standing for the equal treatment in society with the purpose to achieve the justice. Thus, the trade unions are still the important subjects of the relations between the state body and the individuals, while the current leadership of the country should come to the consensus regarding the next policy towards the trade unions. The membership in the trade unions is declining while the people are not able to identify the clear pros and cons of the membership in the trade unions as the government of the United Kingdom takes the position as to act in the discriminatory manner.
The Performance of the Trade Unions in the United States
In comparison with the spread of the unions in the United Kingdom, the situation in the United States is dramatically different. The interaction between the trade unions and the business entities in the United States is quite complex and is featured with adversarial effect. In fact, the employer organizations operating in the country are not as active as the unions in the United Kingdom, while these organizations prefer to stay aside from the strikes and manifestations against the political leaders. Besides, in the contemporary society the role of the trade unions is changing as the people have recognized that these organizations may obtain separate benefits for the workers as the leverage against the policies of the owners of the business units. In fact, the American liberal movement has the features of the liberal activity, while the leaders of the country do not pursue the aim to limit deliberately the performance of the unions. There is a separate organization with the supranational power which manage the activity of the lower trade unions. This organization is called as the American Federation of Labor as the Congress of Industrial Organizations which is composed of different social units within the entire country (Waddington, 2001, p. 400). Meanwhile, the national trade unions are regarded as the powerful subjects of the labour movement in the country which stand for the protection of the interests of the workers. These social entities should manage the funding of the strikes and perform the right of the collective bargaining pertaining to the protection of the interests of the employees. As the other union in the developed states, the trade unions in the United States are vested with the responsibility to perform the functions of the impartial mediator in the dispute between the workers and employers. Moreover, the leadership of the trade unions should bargain the preferential conditions of the contractual agreements for the workers.
The main objective of the activity of the trade unions is to obtain the agreement from the employers of the business entities to increase the salaries for the workers. In addition, the trade unions negotiate the improvement of the working conditions for the workers in order to meet the requirements for the safe and secure premises. Accordingly, the different researches conducted in the analysis of the performance of the trade unions have shown that the salaries are influenced by the involvement of the trade unions in bargaining of the improvements for the employees. In this respect, it should be said that the labour unions in the United States are regarded as the major participants of the employees in different spheres in the business environment (Findlay et al., 2009, p. 241).
Thus, the analysis of the labour movement in the United States shows that the trade unions serve the important role in the protection of the interests and needs of the citizens. Besides, the perspective for the further spread of this movement within the country raises the ambiguous concerns as these organizations are not necessary for the employees (Wills and Linneker, 2013, p. 190). Meanwhile, the power of the trade unions in the United States is transformed to the political agents that may be used in the reasonable manner by the political leaders instead of the ordinary employees and business entities (Seierstad et al., 2015).
Critical Analysis of Trade Unions in the United Kingdom and the United States
The overview of the performance of the trade unions in two different jurisdictions confirms that there are different perceptions of the population about the role of these social organizations. In the United States, the trade unions are influenced by the political fights between the parties so that the main function of these organizations are not delivered for the benefits of the population. Besides, the comparison between the trade unions in two countries shows that trade unions in the United States are much more powerful from the economical and financial perspective, while in the United Kingdom these unions may act for the protection of the interests of the population. In addition, the labour movement in the United States is decreasing, while in the United Kingdom people rely on these unions as the links in cooperation with the government and other state bodies. Furthermore, it is hard for the population of the United Kingdom to be the members of the trade unions due to the fact that people should pay high taxes and payments on the membership in these organizations. The American unions do not have similar approach so that the people do not bear the financial burden. In this regard, it is seemed reasonable that the leadership of the United Kingdom has decreased a bit the rules for the membership in the trade unions so that the amount of the people included in it will decrease. Meanwhile, the trade unions in these two countries are quite different as they pursue different goals and objectives.
The role of the trade unions is discussed in the global scale within the different countries. The capacity of the trade unions as the valuable social organizations is considered under the deliberate purpose in order to define the limits of the influence of these organizations. There are several models from the theoretical perspective that may present the impact of the performance of the trade unions, while the traditional concepts imply that these organizations do not have powerful leverage in the resolution of the particular issues in the society. This statement is confirmed by the decrease in the membership in labour unions in the United States and the United Kingdom. Several researches demonstrate that the economical development of the countries has resulted in the decrease of the interests of the employees in the membership in the trade unions as they prefer to take the other instruments for the receipt of the legal advice, support, etc. Moreover, the expansion of the small business units shows that these participants of the market can not meet the requirements of the legislation similar to the British one, where the employees should become the members of the trade unions and pay regularly for the political levy. At the same time, there is no proper understanding among the people about the real benefits of the membership in the labour unions. The people prefer to rely on the mediators and other legal agents that may stand for the rights of the individual, while within the particular trade union the voting process should be conducted for the support of separate policy. In this regard, it is difficult to predict the outcome of the voting so that the individual opts to stay aside the internal policies of the trade unions. Therefore, the role of the trade unions in the United Kingdom and the United States is quite similar regardless of the fact that the population of the countries treat it in the different manners based on the models prevailing in societies.
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