Trade Unions and Economic Inequality

Lydia Hayes, Tonia A Novitz

Research output: Book/ReportAuthored book


With executive pay now at up to 144 times that of average employees, the issue of economic equality is more relevant than ever. In their new book Trade Unions and Economic Inequality Lydia Hayes and Tonia Novitz underline the crucial role of trade unions in creating a more equal society.

The authors begin by recoding the consistent popularity of trade unions. And yet, despite this popularity, trade union membership has declined and the number of workers who currently have their terms and conditions of work negotiated by a trade union has fallen dramatically.

According to the authors, this decline has been shaped by trade union laws which inhibit trade union recruitment, activity and collective bargaining. Attacks on trade union activities by politicians and misrepresentation in the media has fuelled the decline.

The result has been a dramatic increase in levels of economic inequality, reflected in the fact that income differences between top earners and those on the lowest wages are now higher than at any time since records began.

According to the report, as reflected in many of the statistics and graphs provided, there is an historic link between strong trade unionism and more equal societies. Without trade unions, the realities of working life mean that individual workers are under pressure to simply accept the pay and conditions that an employer presents to them.

In an effort to re-boost the role of trade unions in society, the authors conclude with a 6 point policy programme aimed at ensuring that trade unions are once again at the heart of economic, social and industrial policy in the UK.

“Writing in clear and accessible terms, Hayes and Novitz explain the central role of trade unions in closing the inequality gap, and in particular the need to rebuild collective bargaining arrangements that will give trade unions an opportunity to speak more loudly on behalf of the dispossessed” - John Hendy QC and Professor Keith Ewing
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLiverpool
PublisherInstitute of Employment Rights, London
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)978-1-906703-26-1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Structured keywords

  • PolicyBristolGlobalPoliticalEconomy


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