To start with I will mention a bit of the British trade union history.
British trade unions, in the backdrop of the Second World War experienced extraordinary growth for a quarter of the century till 1950s in terms of its membership, activities and ability to carry on collective bargaining and changing socio-economic conditions. Since 1950s that progress slowed down but it was still growing till 1970s. At that point it again experienced rapid growth in its membership. But after 1980s then continued to 1990s and 2000 the trade union membership experienced rapid fall and from 2000 it stabilized with very slow increase. But since then the unions are becoming unpopular and insignificant with their membership further reducing. It is estimated that since 1980 the union membership has halved in U.K.
The main factors for their reducing memberships are many and all of them collectively are contributing to still dwindling membership numbers of British Labor Unions. These major factors for reducing Labor Union Membership are:
Economic Factors: like liberalization and privatization of the sectors and downsizing Globalization, and importing mass products at a low cost from countries like China and India.
Political Factors: Changing political scenarios, to somewhat hostile treatment from the Government and the policies, legislature changes that are made to restrict trade union power and activities.
Industrial Factors: Downsizing the direct employment and hiring through contractors, shift from labor intensive jobs to intelligence related jobs and also drive for employing multi-skilled employees also reduced the dependence on specific employee to complete a task thus decreased the level of job security among employees resulting shift of balance towards employers’ control
Union’s Internal Factors. Their inability or unwillingness to unionize the growing number of new workplaces. Trade Unions still struggle to get rid of their ‘Masculinity culture’. Trade Union need to redirect recruitment of members who are in part-timers contract of employment, change bargaining priorities to reflect part-timers’ concerns; and to change union organization and representation to facilitate participation by part-timers