Industrial attitudes of active white collar civil service trade unionists
This thesis describes and explains a recent industrial relations phenomenon, the "Industrial attitudes of active white-collar civil service trade unionists." It begins by tracing the problem facing the civil service trade unions back to the institutionalized low pay of their members and the apparently autocratic character of their employer. Evidence was gathered which showed that the Government, in its role as employer, had over the years gradually disarmed the representatives of its employees seemingly through the exercise of its prerogative. However, when the exercise of prerogative took on a new meaning, for instance, making decisions unilateral1y and enforcing pay increases which were unacceptable to the unions, it was seen by civil service trade unionists as an abuse of power. The thesis contains further evidence which shows how overt Government attitudes gradually transformed its hitherto intentionally docile workers into a militant workforce. It illustrates the process by which the Government anaesthetized itself in order to overcome the growing militancy among its employees. It delineates a connection between Government practices in the area of industrial relations and low morale in the civil service. Analyses of data gathered through a wide ranging survey provide substantive grounds for a categorical dismissal the myth that higher grade civil servants were right wing and were consequently less militant than lower grade civil servants, and more prone to shirk their unions' activities. It amply demonstrates how the attitude of active white-collar civil service trade unionists to industrial action is influenced more by their experience of the negotiating process and the behaviour of their employer, than by the structure of their personal circumstances. It argues that because the unions failed in their endeavour to win better pay and in particular, as a direct result of their defeat by the Government in the 1981 pay campaign, the level of militancy had declined, thereby jeopardizing the effectiveness of their negotiating strategy. The thesis concludes by highlighting the distinctive outcome of the survey, namely, that militancy is a more significant aspect of trade union power than high density of membership.