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The labour force in East Kilbride : a decade of development

Taggart, James (1993) The labour force in East Kilbride : a decade of development. Quarterly Economic Commentary, 18 (4). pp. 56-66. ISSN 0306-7866

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Abstract

The explosion of violence outside the Timex plant in Dundee on 17 May 1993 represented the high water mark of a labour dispute which had become increasingly ill tempered over its three month life span. Indeed, it represents one extreme in Scottish labour relations since the "winter of discontent" in 1979. Unlike the bitter disputes of the 1960s and 1970s, the Timex problem has not been marked by trade union recalcitrance. Indeed, the engineering union and the STUC have given the appearance of bending over backwards in their efforts to find solutions. The Timex lockout has shown, among other things, that labour law has not just shifted the goal posts in the last ten years, but translated them to another arena with a completely different rule book. Clearly the situation in Dundee is not representative of the general labour relations climate in Scotland. However, to term the overall Scottish situation as "better" may beg a question about perspective. Since 1982, the Strathclyde International Business Unit has carried out four surveys of labour relations in East Kilbride. While it is probable that a new town will give a better balanced view than the Timex episode, the series of assessments also gives some idea of how industrial relations have developed over the decade. In addition, analysis of the trends has some bearing on East Kilbride's ability to retain industrial investment and add to the stock, especially in relation to foreign direct investors.