Scotland : where have all the trade union members gone?

Beaumont, Philip B. and Harris, Richard (1992) Scotland : where have all the trade union members gone? Quarterly Economic Commentary, 17 (3). pp. 57-64. ISSN 0306-7866

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    Abstract

    The dimensions of the substantial decline in the extent of trade union membership in Britain as a whole in the 1980s (and into the 1990s) are well known, although there is some disagreement as to the major causes or factors involved in this membership fall.(1) However, when we take a more disaggregated look at the contours of union membership in Britain in the 1980s we still find evidence of the traditional 'North-South divide', with membership being disproportionately concentrated in the Northern part of the country.<2) However, what if we disaggregate still further by looking at the union membership position of the individual regions which make up the Northern part of the North- South dichotomy? Are they all still individually representative of the Northern part of Britain as regards their level of union membership? This is the approach and issue pursued in this particular paper, with our basic finding being that Scotland appears to be no longer performing as a Northern region in this regard, at least as regards manual employees. This finding is particularly apparent when the position in Scotland is compared with that in Wales, one of the other traditional areas of union strength in Britain.