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New perspectives on collective labour law: Trade union recognition and collective bargaining

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Keith Ewing, John Hendy

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-51
Number of pages29
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

King's Authors


Drawing on the Manifesto for Labour Law published earlier this year, we consider Kahn-Freund's assessment of British labour law (for the first three quarters of the twentieth century) as voluntarist, abstentionist collective laissez faire as espoused by Bob Simpson. In contrast (and utilising Simpson's tool of 'law in context'), we point up the role of the state during this period in implementing labour law policy in support of extensive collective bargaining by the use of public law powers (in the contemporaneous sense in which such law was understood). Drawing on this legacy, we set out the measures by which collective bargaining, in particular at sectoral level, might be restored. We deal with the establishment of Sectoral Employment Commissions consisting of equal numbers of employers and union representatives (similar to the old Joint Industrial Councils). In default, tripartite bodies based on the extinct Wages Councils would be established. We propose the (re) use of 'fair wages clauses' (ie public procurement arrangements) to require participation in collective bargaining and the observance of collective agreements. We consider the reciprocal issues of representation at the workplace, union access thereto and reform of the recognition machinery, taking in Simpson's analysis of the current and earlier recognition legislation.

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