Industrial democracy in the UK: precursors to the Bullock Report

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Abstract

Many of the debates in the British labour movement on how to ensure and implement »industrial democracy« through worker representatives on company boards reached their peak in 1977, when the Report of the Committee of Inquiry on Industrial Democracy (»the Bullock Report«) recommended the appointment of worker representatives to the boards of companies for which they work. No consensus could be found on the Report’s implementation and the political and industrial turbulence that followed in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s resulted in the abandonment of the recommendations. However, debates over how much »say« workers should have in the running of their employers’ business and what form this »voice« should take have not subsided. This article uses the Bullock Report as an entry point to reconsider the feasibility of worker representation on company boards in the UK from a labour law perspective. In doing so, the article compares the Bullock Report with debates which took place between the two World Wars – an intellectually rich but often neglected period when the British trade union movement was at a critical point in its development. By using insights from labour law history and comparative law, the article reveals the points at which historical factors led to certain choices. An awareness of these historical factors and choices facilitates a reassessment of traditional narratives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-171
Number of pages10
JournalRechtsgeschichte - Legal History
VolumeRg 30
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2022

Keywords

  • industrial democracy
  • worker representation
  • collective bargaining
  • UK
  • trade unions

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