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Title: Inter-union membership disputes and their resolution by the Disputes Committee of the Trades Union Congress
Author: Kalis, Peter J.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3594 0906
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1976
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The accepted starting point for an analysis of interunion conflict in Britain is the multiplicity of unions in single industrial settings. This is at once valid and potentially misleading. It is valid because with only one union in any industrial setting, the chances for inter-union friction occurring would be limited to those instances where one industrial setting interacts with another. It is misleading when remedial and academic efforts are designed solely with a view to effecting a reduction in the number of unions in an industrial setting. One commentator, for instance, has proposed the amalgamation of the three largest unions in Britain. [Footnote: H.A. Turner, 'British Trade Union Structure: A New Approach?', British Journal of Industrial Relations, II (1964), 165.] Others have argued that the major unions should divide organisational rights in plants in which they cumulatively have organisational dominance. Plant A would go to Union X; Plant B to Union Y; Plant C to Union Z; and so on. [Footnote: J. Lovell and B.C. Roberts, A Short History of the T.U.C. (London: Macmlllan, 1968), pp. 180-181.] These proposals were made in the last decade. For the most part, they have not been implemented. The present study will not ignore the wisdom of an analysis of inter-union disputes which describes multi-unionism as a necessary pre-condition, but it will focus on a more functional aspect of inter-union conflict. The immediate causes of inter-union disputes concern us here; that is to say, those aspects of industrial life which in fact provoke conflict between unions. Of course, these industrial events only gain in meaning in a multi-union context , but that context will be assumed. In addition to examining the immediate causes of inter-union disputes , this study focuses on a method by which to resolve them - the Disputes Committee of the Trades Union Congress. Accordingly, this study does not approach the subject of inter-union disputes with a view to their elimination through the reforming and restructuring of trade unions and collective bargaining so that only one union is present in single industrial settings. Rather than concentrate on the elimination of inter-union disputes, this study examines the more immediate causes of these disputes and further examines the role of the Disputes Committee in resolving them once they have arisen. Inter-union disputes arise over a variety of issues. In its evidence to the Royal Commission on Trade Unions and Employers' Associations, the Trades Union Congress classified inter-union disputes as being of four types. These include disputes over membership, demarcation of work, representational rights (which unions should compose the trade union side of negotiating or consultative machinery or which union should be recognised individually), and policy (including wage claims). [Footnote: Trade Unionism (London: Trades Union Congress, second edition 1967), pp. 167-168.] The present study is particularly concerned with the first type: inter-union disputes over membership. This will not be to the exclusion, however, of references to the other sorts of disputes where relevant. Disputes between unions over membership are simply those which arise over the question of union representation; that is, conflicts over which union ought to be representing a particular worker or group of workers by means of having that worker or group of workers in membership. Such a dispute may take one of two forms: it may involve an instance where one union allegedly has enrolled a member of another union, or wishes to enrol him in the future; or, it may concern a trade union organising in an industrial unit where there is another trade union also making a claim for organisational rights. This study labels the first form a transfer dispute and the second form an organisational dispute. Part 1 of this thesis approaches inter-union disputes over membership by viewing them in their industrial context. This study does not attempt to present a balanced and complete account of inter-union relations in Britain. Ifor does it attempt to measure precisely the incidence of inter-union disputes in different parts of British industry. Rather, Part I attempts to provide some ideas and concrete examples regarding the nature and sources of inter-union membership disputes which involve in their resolution senior trade union officers and perhaps the Disputes Committee of the TUC. Chapters One, two, and Three describe, respectively, how officers, members, and groups of members contribute to inter-union membership conflict* Chapter Four concentrates on a specific type of inter-union dispute - the promotion dispute. Chapter Five is concerned with the institutional premium placed by trad© unions on expansion, and with how that expansion often leads trade unions into controversial areas of organisation. Chapters Six and Seven focus on environmental factors which play a role in inter-union conflict. The subject of Chapter Six is collective bargaining arrangements, while Chapter Seven centres on management decision-making and on evolutionary considerations which influence and change Industries and occupations. Chapters Eight and Mine present two conventional responses to inter-union conflict - amalgamations and inter-union agreements, respectively - and analyse the extent to which they can favourably affect inter-union relations. Part II of this thesis examines Disputes Committee decision-making. As will become clear, a principle is emerging from the Committee's adjudication of transfer disputes. Whereas in the decade and a half following World War II membership transfers were not approved by the Committee, it has become increasingly true since then that where a union requests a membership transfer from another union but is refused, and where the requesting union 1) is faithful to the TUC's transfer procedures, 2) is organisationally dominant in the industrial unit concerned, and 3) is the possessor of negotiating rights in the unit, then the transfer will be approved by the Disputes Committee. Moreover, where the requesting union cannot summon up all three of these factors in support of its argument, it has happened in some cases that the Committee has found one or two of the factors to be sufficient. While no such overriding principle is emerging in organisational disputes, Disputes Committee adjudication has been fairly consistent, as will be described, in which of two or more types of competing organisational claims it has favoured in an organisational dispute. Part II begins in Chapter Ten by presenting the TUC's Rules which pertain to inter-union dispute resolution, the Disputes Principles and the procedures of the Disputes Committee. Chapter Eleven analyses Disputes Committee decisions in transfer disputes, and Chapter Twelve does the same for organisational disputes. Chapter Thirteen discusses the implementation of Disputes Committee awards, and Chapter Fourteen concludes this thesis by examining the utility and effectiveness of the Disputes Committee for purposes of resolving inter-union disputes.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Labor unions ; Great Britain