Historical Studies in Industrial Relations

Then and Now: Vulnerable Workers, Industrial Action, and the Law in the 1970s and Today

Historical Studies in Industrial Relations (2020), 41, (1), 249–260.

Abstract

With the much vaunted ‘withering of the strike’, a mythology of past militancy appears to have taken root; militant men taking to the picket line on the flimsiest of pretexts. This stereotype is challenged through exploring two accounts of three strikes, Trico and Grunwick in 1976, and, following the raft of ‘salami slicing’ legislation kettling workers and trade unions, the dispute at Gate Gourmet in 2005. These were acts of desperation by vulnerable workers. Each book highlights the heterogeneity of race and gender, and in some cases how this served to divide workers. The attack on existing conditions and the increased use of agency workers, the issues challenged by Gate Gourmet workers, and continued disputes concerning equal pay, as with the Trico strike, indicate the limited power of organized labour today in the context of the persistence, if not escalation, of employment grievances.

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Author details

Tuckman, Alan