Industrial relations in the privatised coal industry : continuity, change and contradictions
This study seeks both to describe and account for the patterns of industrial relations which have emerged in the UK coal industry since privatisation in 1994. In doing so, it also aims to address some of the wider questions concerning the relationship between ownership and industrial relations. A series of hypotheses are advanced concerning how changes in ownership might affect industrial relations within the industry, and whether such changes would have positive or negative implications for organised labour. A case study approach is utilised to analyse labour relations developments at a number of collieries, and it is shown that the industrial relations strategies adopted by management within the new coal enterprises have had a determining effect upon the patterns of labour relations within the privati sed industry. This study also demonstrates that the emergent pattern of labour relations in the privatised industry is characterised by both continuity and change. However, whilst continuity with the patterns of labour relations established during the final decade of public ownership is shown to have had negative implications for organised labour within the industry, the changes associated with privatisation are demonstrated to have been a more ambivalent force. Change has, in different contexts, had some positive implications for organised labour, but in the majority of cases, the implications for labour have been negative. Overall, therefore, this study concludes that privatisation has had a significant influence upon industrial relations within the coal industry, and that organised labour has been detrimentally affected by these developments.