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Workplace collective bargaining and

managerial prerogatives
by Dr. John Storey
Senior Lecturer in Industrial Sociology,
Trent Polytechnic, England.

THE question of managerial prerogatives (also presents the results of a recent empirical study.
variously known as managerial 'functions' and The intention is to make an assessment of the
'rights') could be claimed as a central issue in the impact of workplace collective bargaining upon
study of Industrial Relations.' For example, Bey- managerial prerogatives and to investigate the
non observes that "This conflict over 'rights' is a circumstances in which these prerogatives appear
fundamental one and permeates union- to be most circumscribed.
management relations."* I n so far as these 'rights' This is a fruitful area for research, for. as
relate to rule-making, Bain and Clegg also make Goldthorpe notes, "the employment contract is
the issue central in their search for a definition of typically. indeed almost invariably, of an incom-
the subject of Industrial Relations which "may be plete and inexplicit nature. While it gives manage-
defined as the study of all aspects ofjob regulation ment the right of command, it does so only in a
- the making and administering of rules. . ."3 generalised way. It does not determine just what
Thus. at the very heart of the employment tasks an employee is required to undertake. just
relationship lies the question of control, and of how he shall d o them, just how much effort he
discretion. What 'rights' does the employer (or his shall expend on them . . ."5
agents) have in this relationship? What 'rights' the The impact of organised labour on these
employee? How much discretion is implicitly "silences'" in the employment contract may in fact
allowed to either side when labour is hired? be viewed at two main levels: the level of national
This article examines the conceptual base upon bargaining, and the level of the workplace (though
which discussion in this area is usually built and, as we shall see this latter contains within itself a
within the framework of analysis then derived, number of 'levels'). It has long been held that
recognition of trade unions as external agents to
the factory. and the observance of national level
1 Despite its centrality. the issue has been curiously neglected in Brmsh
literature. lhovgh more widely discussed m America Examples 01 the agreements. is less of a threat to managerial
American dsbals include Oerber. M.. Chalmers. W E and Slagnsr. R , authority than internal lay representation and
"Collectwe Bargaining and Management Funciions: An Empirical Study".
Journal of Business. 1958 pp. 107-120: Oerber, M et 81. "Union
domestic negotiation. With the recent almost uni-
Partripation in Plant Decision Making". Industrial and Labor Relaeons versally7 acknowledged growth in workplace bar-
Rswew. Vol 15. 1961. Derber. M et al Labor - Management Relatrons m gaining. the question now arises as to its actual
Illml C W . Universily 01 IIIIMIIS. 1953. (2 wls.l: Slichter. S H , HeaIy. J J
and Lwernash. E R , The Impact of Collsctiwe Bsrgarnrng on Mansg,ment.
impact on the above issues of workplace power
The Brookins Inslitute. Washington DC. 1960; Chander. Margaret K , and discretion. It can be reasonably hypothesised
Management Rights and Umon fnterests. McGtewHill. New York. 1964. that workplace collective action will tend to be
Chamberlain. N W , The Union Challenge to ManagemenI Contml. Harper
and Row. New York. 1948. Young, Stanley. "The O u e s t m 01 Menagerial
much wider in its scope of impact than other levels
Prerogalwes". Indusrndl and Labor Relarions Rer,ew. 1963. 16(2). pp. of employer-union bargaining. There are a
240-53 number of different ways in which the state of
2 Beynon. H , Workmg lorFord Allen Lane. Harmondsworth. 1973. p
144 control in the employment situation could be
3 B a n G S and Clegg. H A , "A Strategy lor Industrial Relations researched. For example. some have turned their
Research m Great 8rltam". Entwh Journal of IndustrUI Relalrons. March
1974. p. 95
attention to macro-indicators such as statistics on
This dehnition is, howeve,. rathsr limited, $1 reflects the tradition
established by Dunlop and then Flanders The wider p n p e c t w e more in
tune with rkent t h w g h l ia indicated by nyman's detinmon: "industrial 5 Goldthorpe. J . H.. lnduatrlal Relar#onsIn Grear Britam A Critique 01
relations IS the study 01 Ihe processes of conriol over work relations" Rslotmism."PolltlcsandSoc~elv.VoI 4. No 4, 1974. p 428
Hyman. R , Industrial Relat,ons A Marxist Introduction. Macmillan. 1975. 6 l b i d , p 429
P 12 7 For a summary of views from the 'Tory'. IibemLpIwalist and radical
4 This irsludes the question 01 what demands can be made on the perspsct~eson this point. see Goldthorpe libid1 pp. 4 2 0 and 429 H 4
employee In terms of sped. lob content. elliciencv. working conditions. etc. obsefver that "Workers can now often pfavenl managemenl from w n g 111
The slruggle over one 01 Ihese isaues. the question of speed. has been power in an entirely arbitrary or summary lashson. they t a n compel
graphically dIustraied' "Some control was obtamad by a straightlorward managements to negotiate and bargain woth them on a wtdenmg range 01
ralusal to obey An agreement had to bm reached and management issuea: and in lhsae and other ways lhay afe able to call wo questlo"
concedwd lo the stewards the right 10 hold the key that locked Ihe assembly managerial 'prerogatwss' ( p A291 The errenr 01 lhcs challenge
line" Bevnon. H . OP cot. p 139 however. still cries out lor emplrtcalanalysnr

40 INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS JOURNAL, WmtsrVol.7 No 3 0 19761 7 7 Mercury nouss Publealions Ltd , London
the 'causes of strikes' in order to diagnose a shift in relations at this level, an adequate sociological
the types of issues now being fought over? (Part of analysis must nevertheless be mindful of the wider
the rationale for this is the view that "a union's social and historical context within which such
strength may be roughly gauged by the issues on relations occur.11
which it fights.'*) Others have broadened the The analysis begins, therefore, with considera-
canvas so as to take in the distribution of power in tion of an ideological concept which has been
society at large - indeed, with the decline in powerfully influential in industrial relations prac-
influence of the so-called Oxford School of Indus- tice.
trial Relations and its replacement by a more
radical perspective. this approach is rapidly be- MANAGERIAL PREROGATIVES
coming the new orthodoxy in Industrial Relations 'Managerial Prerogatives' is an emotive term
theory. and can thus lead to wide misunderstandings.
Another line of enquiry, and one with much When used in trade union circles, it can raise
promise, would be to seek how certain issues suspicions and protests that the user is implying
become defined as 'negotiable' while others d o support of unilateral managerial rights: when used
not. 'Negotiability' does to some extent vary be- in management circles, it can raise contrary fears
tween workplaces: a newcomer must learn how it that an attack is being prepared on management's
is defined i n his new situation, yet at the same time 'right' to manage. For these reasons alone, it may
he. too. will have an impact in shaping the well be wise simply to avoid the term altogether.
evolving definition. Research could be aimed at However, if it can be used to indicate an area of
tracing the source of these definitions - an decision-making over which management believes
endeavour which tends to lead back. however. to it should have (and acts as if it does have) sole and
an examination of the situations and settings exclusive rights of determination and upon which
within which ideas are generated.IO it strenuously resists any interference, then the
The focus here is on workplace collective action term may serve as a useful shorthand phrase for an
because it is at this level that a wider range of important element in many collective bargaining
issues come under scrutiny and here where man- situations. There is the further point that, despite
agerial power and managerial action have their the apprehensions connected with its use noted
immediate (felt) application. Whilst the focus is on above. it is a concept used by participants on both
sides, participants whose behaviour we wish to
understand.
8 Examples of this approach can be laund in Turner. H A et al. Labour The 'prerogative' in question can be seen as
Relations m the Motor Industry. Allen & Unwtn. 1967. p 334, Coater. K ,
fed1 Democracy m rhe Motor Industry. Institute for Worksts' Control. 1969.
relating to certain 'rights' and 'functions' claimed
~6 by management. As we shall observe, the 'rights'
9 Goodrich. C L , Ths F r o n t m 01 Control A Srudy m Workshop Politrcs. aspect is often asserted as deriving from property
Bell & Sons. 1920. p 16
10 Even David Silverman accepts of course that. "Only by recagnising rights of ownership (of plant and materials). The
such Cont.¶its do we manage to find more or less stable meanings in human call for the preservation of management 'functions'
activttv% talk !I unintelligible without the provision of some context"
He does. however. go on to clam that these meanings are only available to
on the other hand. is somewhat akin to a demarca-
YI through '~Interprettvework by which we remedy the indaftnits pssibilicy tion claim. I t relates to those functional tasks. the
of interpretations available on any social scene". (Sllverman. People and possession of which helps give this occupational
Organrratronr. Course Unit 16. p 561 However. in many circumstances the
recognmon of what a particular scene rapresmrr is surely not so unfathom-
group its distinctiveness. I t is no accident of course
able ar ethnomethodolagrsts would sometimes have us believs There ns, that these tasks typically relate to the control
perhaps. a sulficient basis of common understanding (this need not m p l y a
consensus of values. the common understanding mlghl equally be one of
confl!ctl as to make elaborate 'mterpralattons' 01 some situations a tedious
bore The argument here 1s rhac incsrpretive work most deftnitely her a 11 And be mindlui. too. ofthe union structure wlthm whKh work#ace
place. but its value depends upon the questtons to bs asked. and upon a sclion has to operate. lhls indmd has been the theme 01 two recent books.
recognmon that the strategic use 01 other forms 01 enquiry. rather than the Herding. R ,Job Conrrol and Union Sfruclure. Rotterdam Univerrity Press.
tndarminate adoption 01 the takenothingfor-granted stance. also has a 1972; Boranton, I , ClsgQ, H . and Rimmer. M . . Workplace & Unmn.
piace Heinemann. London. 1975

41
Workplace collective bargainingand managerialprerogatives

function and that therefore this occupational many: the union ostensibly “recognises the com-
group is marked-off not only horizontally but pany’s responsibility to plan, organise and manage
vertically. thus maintaining a hierarchical division the operation of each department in order to
of labour. achieve maximum efficiency in the operation of
Since the ‘frontier of control’ is pitched-out the plant”.
differently according to the situation. it is difficult The prevailing situation may be seen as some-
to give universal examples of the types of decisions what akin to management’s ‘pretence’ relating to
falling solely within the pale of managerial hege- the unitary perspective. The ‘right to manage’ is
mony. the examples given by A. I. Marsh in his perhaps a case of self deception, with reality a
“Dictionary of Industrial Relations”. viz. hiring. situation of ‘autocracy tempered by insurgency’.
firing. promotions, discipline. manning, produc- More traditionally, managerial prerogatives
tion control, and decisions on overtime. can. in would be seen as the residue of discretionary
certain workplaces be found to be either jointly powers left to management after the application of
regulated or subject to workers’ unilateral job such constraining factors as law14 and collective
control. bargaining have taken their toll. Nichols indicates
I n all, the status of managerial prerogative is at some of these factors. “An enfranchised electorate.
present highly uncertain.I2 Many workers and the increasing rble of government in economic
their representatives clearly d o accept some r6le for affairs, and not least full employment are all
management to manage. The TUC itself has factors which impose limiting condition^."^^
expressed this view, stating it “is management’s job The extent and effectiveness of such conditions
to lead . . . what is required is not a diminution in is, however, open to debate. The employment
managerial authority but a new conception of how contract, for example, is shown to be an unusual
this authority should be exerci~ed”.’~ sort of contract, one imbued with “a set of implied
Indeed. the aphorism that it “is management’s terms reserving full authority of direction and
job to manage” is not only a defensive statement control to the e m p l ~ y e r ” . ’Full
~ application of the
on management’s part but also an assertive one by notion of contract. with the implementation, for
those trade unions anxious to place full responsi- example, of detailed terms. would not have met
bility upon management whilst retaining the right the needs of the employer, rather, these were met
to be able to challenge whatever decisions are then by “infusing the employment contract with tradi-
made. Hugh Clegg’s writing on this matter is tional laws of master and servant, thereby giving
well-known. I t contains the pluralist notion of the them a legal basis for the prerogatives they de-
“permanent opposition”. Conversely, there is that manded”.”
position which denies any exclusive rble for a Restrictions on the full arbitrary exercise of
managerial strata. these prerogatives are, however, offered internally.
Arising from either position, it is not surprising. On many matters which managers will claim are
therefore, to find constant documentary evidence unilaterally theirs to decide, instances can be
of the assertion of managerial rights, whilst en-
countering daily practical challenges to manage- 14 There is a whole range 01 fragmentary legtslalton whch 8% relevant
ment’s attempted exercise of these claimed rights. here. lor example: The Contrxts 01 Employment Act 1963. The Rndun-
The Threlfalls (Liverpool) agreement is typical of dancy Pavment Act 1965: Tha Empioymmt Protectton Ac1 1 9 7 5 inCiudM
measures relating 10 unfair dismissal, the recognition 01 lrsde unwna and
ahop slward8. the provision 01 shop steward lacilitbs. and Ihe d i r l a u r n of
12 McCaRhy and Parker lound “diugrwmenl bslwaen atwords and information There are obligations under the Saleiy and Health at Work
members about the existence 01 issues which the stewards wan1 to uttle Act to nteMish MSCIV committees il so requested by u l a t y reprwent8li~s.
wath management but which management rngerds as its own right to The new Industry Bill and Ihe propold Planning Agreements nlw illualrate
dsctde” McCarthy. W. E J and Parker. S A . Shop Slewads and the impact 01 l8w.
Workshop Relationr. Raearch Paper 10. Row1 Cornmimion on Trade 1 5 Nichols. Thm. Ownership. Conlrol and Ideology. Allen (L Unwin,
Unwns and Employers’ Associations. 1968. p 2 2 Unsurprlsingly. London. 1969. p 1 5 0
stewards were more aware 01 such issues than wore mambwrs. 16 Fox. A , Bevond Contract. Work. Power md Truxt Rdalions. Fabwr.
1 3 Ttadw Unlon Congress. Trade Union#srn. London. 1967. 2nd edition. London. 1 9 7 4 . p 3 1 5
p 101 17 ibid , p. 185.

42
found of informal agreements and 'understand- organise people . . . Top management is an
ings'. Hence, when considering the challenge to authority-conscious group. Men at the top of the
managerial preorgatives at the workplace level we supervisory structure are consumed with decision-
are concerned with negotiations and 'bargaining' making and commanding. Yet they do not like to
in their widest sense. For example. aspects of believe that men obey them because they have
custom and practice, unilateral job control. and power . . . They want to feel that they command
so-called restrictive practices,1s lie on the margins because they are gifted to lead."20
of workplace bargaining and understandings. The obverse of these sentiments is presented by
Some elements of unilateral job control result the radical critique. An entirely different set of
from managerial expediency. The two processes of premises are put forward. Factory power relations
bargaining and job control merge. and at some are seen as a reflection of power disparities in
point along the line become indistinguishable. society at large: and this power derives not from
the mystified conceptions illustrated in the
MANAGERIAL PREROGATIVE AND previous paragraph, but from property. Where.
IDEOLOGY bereft of their covers, factory power relations are
I t would appear that contemporary apologists of but one manifestation of capitalist property and
managerial prerogatives base their arguments on power relationships. Insofar as some workers may
two pillars: the property rights concept, and seek to legitimise managerial power this exempli-
superior ability to manage. fies a state of 'false consciousness': the exploited
Managerial authority is seen as sustained not failing to comprehend the true logic of their
only by the historical master-servant aspect of the situation. maybe viewing the rights of those who
law but also by property right. T o this day, the law dominate as unchallengeable. Ideological strate-
remains sufficiently supportive of employer power gies are employed to sustain such manifestations of
so as to require careful amendment of company thought.
law even to cope with the industrial democracy Not only is managerial authority based upon
proposals emanating from the EEC. power and property. but the very functional bases
The second argument seeking to justify man- of their existence may be challenged. The rise of
agerial prerogative makes claim to a superior the factories and the extreme hierarchical division
ability to manage from which all may derive of labour may be seen as due more to a desire to
benefit - nation. shareholders, consumers and exercise effective control over the workforce rather
workers alike - because 'management's way' is than due to any technological imperatives. Eco-
the more ' e f f ~ c i e n t ' . ~ ~ nomic historians have tended to assume a techno-
Miller and Form elaborate on this aspect of the logical basis, but Fox gives a clear statement of an
ideology of top management - "a highly self- alternative explanation: "The emergence of the
conscious group whose ethnocentricism leads them factory system owed as much to the desire for
to believe that they have special gifts and attributes closer co-ordination, discipline and control of the
not generally shared by the population. The labour force as to the pressures of
greatest of these is the ability to manage and The factory system, once ushered in. demanded
"speed. regularity and attention"2' In a word, the

I 8 O n e lurihef p a n t I S worth notmg here, 11workers can be w d to be


'legohmising' tha managerla1 authority system by co-operatmg in 01s 20 Miller. 0 C and Form. W H , ~ndus~r~Jl~ocroloQv.
Harper and flow,
continued e x l r l e r ~ e equally. managemenl can be sald 10 be 'lagitimising' New'York. 1 9 6 4 . second edmon. p 1 8 6 Bendtr tw echoes th8s theme
workerr' control ovwr workshop praclces. by loleratmg the contonuance of "Like all others who enioy advantages over thmr Iellows. men In power want
workers' influence ~nmatters not gamed by them an formal negotiatbons 10 M e thew posil~on as 'leg~lmate'and the,, advantages as 'deserve-
19 Management sees 11s power as legilimmed by "tha erpecclat1on that d' . All rulers therelore develop some myth of thev natural ruproor.
management will be competent and that Ihafe wtll be an idenlrty 01 merest 11y . . "Bend8x. R.. Msi Wabsr An InIellecrualPonrar London.Melhuen.
between managers and other employees in g w n g management the power 01 1966. p 294
needs 10 do Ihe job elfectlvely" Parsons. T , "Suggestoons for a Socnologl- 21 F o x . A . o p c i t . p 180
Cal Approach 10 the Theory of Organlsmons". Admintsfraftre Scmnce 2 2 Bendix. R , Work andlufhonfv m Indusfry. Harper. New Ywk. 1963.
OoarrerlvVol 1 . 1 9 5 6 . p 2 3 4 P 39

43
Workplace collective bargaining and managerial Prerogatives

factories required discipline and this was sup- Encroachment on managerial prerogatives is a
ported by sanctions. However. whilst industrialisa- bi-dimensional phenomenon. both of which
tion has clearly been seen as implying an increase approaches are essentially interdependent and
in discipline and control. E. P. Thompson is mutually reinforcing. This point can be illustrated
mindful of the shaping influence of the context: by Beynon’s observation that. “The post-war
“What we are examining here are not only changes period produced a struggle over the effort bargain
in manufacturing techniques which demand within the car plants. A struggle over who does
greater synchronization of labour and greater what. at what pace. for what price and with whom.
exactitude in time routines in an.v society: but also These were the issues of the 1950s that came to a
these changes as they were lived through in the peak in the 1960s. The issues at stake were
society of nascent industrial capitali~m”?~ management’s ‘right’ to organise the plant as it
Whatever the forces at play in the genesis of the thought fit and the workers’ ‘right’ to a fair wage.
factory system, the factors which now characterise to be without harassment. without speed-up, with-
modern industrial organisations (work discipline. out lay-off. without the sack. In fighting these
hierarchies of authority) may be considered as issues . . . workers found . . . that their strength lay
being reinforced both by technological and power in their own ability to organise”?*
imperatives. Procedural advance gives the potential for nego-
From this wider consideration of the ideological tiated substantive advances: at the same time.
and social bases of managerial prerogative. we substantive claims can precede and be a focus for.
now turn to the workplace level in order to a recognition campaign.
examine the defences and inroads constructed by To further our understanding of this interactive
collective worker action. process it has been suggested that we need the
following data: (i) the parties invoved, (ii) their
THE NATURE OF WORKPLACE goals. standards and ideology. (iii) the structure of
BARGAINING interaction, (iv) the environmental conditions. (v)
An examination of managerial prerogatives de- the emerging substantive r ~ l e s . 2 ~Information
mands more than a consideration of the quality of pertinent to these questions is developed in this
settlements made on various issues, and indeed present paper.
more than a consideration of the types of issues Before reporting. however. on empirical findings
subject to regulation. It is contended here that the in this area. a number of (sometimes conflicting)
erosion of managerial prerogatives on the collec- assessments of the r6le of collective bargaining
tive bargaining front is a function of two processes. need to be confronted. The first claims that the
one procedural and the other substantive. whole institution is merely supportive of the status
The existence of an organised workforce with quo. that it involves the unions not in the dis-
workplace representatives enjoying negotiating mantling but. indeed, in the preservation of man-
rights. can in itself be a fundamental challenge to agerial rights. Trade union bargaining helps to
unilateral management decision-makirg. Indeed. legitimise the present economic and industrial
the actual ability to challenge may be far more order, and. insofar as modifications favourable to
important than any particular result. It certainly workers are achieved. these are so marginal that
represents a more impressive counter to mana- far from eliciting change they actually help to
gerial prerogative than. for instance, the level of prevent it by staving-off the worst excesses and
wages or the length of holiday entitlement. These
latter items could equally be granted by a benevo-
24 Ebynon. H.. op. cit.. p. 46.
lent autocrat who would entertain no challenge to 25 Gottxhalk. A W , ‘A Bshavioural Analysis of Bargaintng’ In Warner.
his authority. M.. (ed), The Sociology olthe Workptacs. Allen and Unwin. 1 9 7 3 . p . 73.
These kind of questions inlormed the reseerch project reported in Storey.
J.. “Prowdural and Substantive Aspects of Workplace Collective Bargaining
23 Thompson. E P , Time. ‘Work-D~x#plmeand Industrial Capital- and their Impact upon Managerial Prerogatives”. Ph.D. thesis, Unlwrsltv 01
vim’ PastandPresent No 38. December 1967. p 80 Lancastar. 1 9 1 4

44
rendering safe attendant frustrations. I n other The critical perspective is overstretched when it
words. the whole exercise is at best an elaborate discounts all collective action which utilises collec-
safety-valve. at worst a total charade. tive bargaining tactics. Workgroup efforts have
A n alternative view is to stress the benefits been effective in safeguarding workers from arbi-
gained from collective bargaining. thus Slichter trary management power. and even the critics of
sees it as "a method of introducing civil rights into official union involvement acknowledge this3O But
industry",2fi what needs to be further emphasised is that such
There are a number of points here. One is the workplace action is imbued and made potent by
question as to how far cumulative changes can be the trade union ideal. I t is loo crude to discount
brought about over time - remembering the 'trade union' action because this or that piece of
periodic resurgence of managerial control?' There action is not supported by strike pay. In subtler
is also the point that. although managements may ways, the collective nature of such actions owes a
theoretically retain full rights in all the major debt to trade unionism: for the initial organising
decision areas. the results of unwelcome decisions principles of the shop. for the defining of the
may be challenged. situation. for the meaning of such concepts as
Further, the level at which bargaining takes 'picket'. 'blackleg'. 'solidarity'. In total. the whole
place can also be a factor. For example, Beynon, in exercise of workplace power is made the securer
reviewing the struggles in the American Ford because of the trade union culiure and environ-
plants. makes the point that. "the official union- ment in which it occurs.
management contract made no real inroads into
managerial prerogatives".28 The fact that company PROCEDURAL FINDINGS
agreements of this type can play a supportive rble The empirical work for this research was con-
is not, however. contested here. What is contested ducted between 1970-72 in four industries (brew-
is the nihilistically cynical view that all manage- ing. man-made fibres. mechanical engineering and
ment-worker agreements, even those at the plant bus transport) in the North West of England. I t
level. represent a similar degree of 'incorporation'. involved workplace studies, a postal question-
A recent piece of researchzg in this area whilst naire3' survey of managers and shop stewards, and
equally drawing attention to the distinction be- an analysis of written collective agreements3* The
tween official union bureaucracies and the shop object was to determine the extent of development
floor. nevertheless acknowledges the very real of workplace bargaining. to measure its impact on
importance of the development of workplace job 'managerial decisions', and to identify the relevant
rights (control of production. discipline. sub- variables.
contracting). Indeed. excessive attention to the The overall picture provided by these sources
theme of rank and file revolts as an expression of was of considerable development in workplace
the "challenge from below" to management collu- procedure - of a varied pattern. Recognition of
sion with official established unions. is somewhat manual trade unions was found to be almost
outdated in its ignorance of the supportive rble universal in these four industries, although the
given to plant-level organisation shown for small brewing establishments were an exception
example by the TGWU. here. White-collar trade union recognition was far
26 Slchter. S H , Unron Polrcrer and Indvsrrrd Managemenr. Brookings
Inrtltute. Washingion DC, 1941, p 1 30 Herding. R , ibid. Bcynon. H , op t i t ; and Lane, T. and Rbbsrls. K ,
27 This has been well documented by Cliff. Tony. The fmployers Srriks ar PMmpronr. fontana. London, 1 9 7 1
Offenswe. plum Press. London. I 9 7 0 31 The percentage figures which follow relate 10 returns from a oemple
28 Beynon. H , op cit , p 40 01 93 establishments and 14 1 shop siswardr.
29 Herdlng. R , Job Comrol and Umon Sfrucrure op tat The theme of 32 The reasoning behind the adoption 01 thew methods IS partly
this book. the dlstonttion between shopfloor acllon and oflicial umon a c t w i v refleclcd m Parker's observation lhat "!he two methods 01 sample surveys
tn the USA fno-slrke clauses and all) should not be IW easilly assumed 10 be and case studies really complement each other. because each adds a
transleiable to the U K Thus. asierlions such as "more "noon mfluence less dimension to the pssibilmes 01 data analysis allordsd by the othaz". Parker.
labour power" (p 1211 are less easily rquated w t h workplace actnon on S R , .'Research into Workplace Industrial Ralations" en Warner. M , fed).
Erllal" The Sooolopy of rhe Wodplace. op clt , p 25

45
Workplace collective bargaining und managerial prerogatives

more disparate. I t was general in mechanical reflected particularly in man-made fibres where
engineering and transport - in over 90% of the the main industry agreement had in fact dis-
establishments such recognition had been achieved appeared, and in transport the new Public Trans-
for some white-collar groups, but more infrequent port Authorities had decided to negotiate their
in brewing and man-made fibres where it had own agreements and extricate themselves from the
been achieved in only 32% and 45% of establish- NJIC Agreement which was the heritage of their
ments respectively. municipal depots.
The achievement of recognition for lay repre- Workplace bargaining was clearly widespread:
sentatives was found to be one of the most managers and stewards alike testified to its fre-
fundamental steps and arguably the most fund- quency. The most common level of bargaining
amental step on the road to workplace bargaining. involvement for the individual steward being more
The development from recognition of trade unions than once weekly but not quite so frequently as
as external bodies to the actual recognition of an once daily. Recourse to the more formalised
internal lay representative (especially if also re- setting of the Negotiating Committee was usually
garded as having bargaining functions) is a very available ‘as and when required’.
significant one indeed. In these industries ordinary In summary, on the procedural aspect, it can be
stewards were generally recognised, though with said that workplace bargaining is a fairly general
some prevarication in the case of senior stewards feature in these four industries. the potentiat
- these often being acknowledged as existing “by clearly being laid for developments on the substan-
force of personality only”. tive front. It is to this aspect that we now turn.
Postal surveys largely reflected this situation:
89% of establishments recognised stewards for SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES:NEGOTIATED
production or maintenance workers. The highest AND RETAINED
proportion of non-recognisers were found among There has of recent years in British industrial
man-made fibre establishments of which 23% relations been an overwhelming preoccupation
failed to recognise stewards compared with only with the problems of procedure and procedural
3% in engineering. Senior steward recognition was reform, Flanders’ m0nographs3~go far in express-
even more disparate: 93% in engineering, 69% in ing the general tenor of academic debate in this
transport. 42% in fibres and 41% in brewing. period. Meanwhile the range and depth of negotia-
On the question of steward committees (a tion on substantive issues has been relatively
further stage in the procedural challenge) 54% of ign0red.3~
establishments recognised such bodies, and a The first question here arises from the fact that
further 11% reported their existence but said they the range and type of issues open to negotiation
were not officially recognised. Again there was a are limited by notions of ‘managerial prerogatives’
divergence of practice which reflected the earlier which claim that certain issues are, by their very
pattern - most engineering establishments having nature, properly excluded from collective bargain-
these committees, most fibre establishments not. ing. Hence, before examining the empirical evi-
Steward committees comprising representatives dence on the types of issues negotiated. it will be
from more than one union were rare except in useful to consider the bases of the various con-
engineering. This is one of the many examples in
which the engineering model was found inapplic-
33 Flanders, A , lndurrnal Relartons M a t B Wrong wtrh the Svstem?
able to other industrial sectors. F8b.r. London 1965 Collecaw 8 a q a m n g Prescnptron for Change. Fatar.
The analysis was next focused on the question of tondon 1 9 8 7
34 Thm con~entcon8Idrruncaon {ouclinedby Flandnr in What Is Wmng
negotiations’ and the wtfh The Sprern op CII . p 1 1 ) 15 not unproblematic It tends to bs aven
agreements observed by these establishments. more blurred the workshop IeveI. the b t e moreoften viewing
Some evidence came to light of dissociation from matteriot contention as “iisuea” and thsseollencontain elementi of booth.
lor esample, In the ares5 of diuiplms. and workgroup rights In lnflueming
national and other agreements. and a in [his production ~onlrol.the ‘rights’ and ‘standing’01 tho partlei can be Sean aa
respect towards enterprise autonomy. This was both I procedural and a rubrtantiva question

46
ceptual distinctions seeking to delineate typologies ly affecting the job is 'legitimate'. whereas at-
of proscribed issues. tempts to impose regulation upon wider manage-
A traditional one is that between market regula- ment matters are not.
tion (legitimate) and the attempted regulation of Nevertheless, in practice it is likely that the very
labour and capital utilisation (illegitimate). There attempt to negotiate general rules safeguarding the
is a parallel here between the 'external' and job and its nature, will inevitably involve the
'internal' distinction. Matters concerning the collectivity in wider issues.
domestic 'management' of the workplace being An influential notion in the endeavour to find a
seen as non-negotiable. conceptual basis for the empirical distinction
I t is almost a cliche that collective bargaining is between "negotiable" and "reserved" issues has
concerned with the 'terms and conditions' of been Selig Perlman's "job territory" c0ncept.3~
employment. But, in fact, the union does not need Milton Derber et al, and Martin Perline use it as
to press very far on the conditions aspect to come an explanatory principle underlying their three
u p against prerogatives relating to labour deploy- empirical categories (issues widely negotiated:
ment. choice of technological process, speed of moderately negotiated: management functions).
work. manning levels. etc. Thus, Derber writes: "on managerial functions
There are two points relating to this typology. which did not directly affect the job territory (to
however: one is that certain issues (shift and use Professor Perlman's concept). . . the unions
overtime arrangements. demarcation principles) had virtually no voice"?* Perline similarly finds:
can be seen as containing both market (external) "a familiar pattern emerges. All those issues in
and labour utilisation (internal) implications. which a clear-cut majority of respondents indicat-
Secondly, the dynamic nature of collective bar- ed that the decision rested solely with management
gaining must not be forgotten. even attempts to were outside what Selig Perlman many years ago
bargain on market issues have been seen by referred to as the "job territory"?8 Unfortunately,
employers as encroachments on their right^'?^ neither author examines what Perlman meant by
Abandoning the internaVexterna1 notion com- this term, whether it refers to a demarcated job
pletely, Clarke et al offer a distinction between area. or simply to job-related matters.
'task-centred' and 'power-centred' foci for aspir- In fact, he appears to be referring to the former
ants seeking greater participation. The task- as, for example. in his comparison between union-
centred "emphasises participation as a device like- ism and patriotism, and in his reference to the fact.
ly to increase job satisfaction and with it producti- that "common job territory.. . is constantly tend-
vity", whereas the power-centred approach "aims ing to widen" because of accumulated technologi-
at extending the bargaining power of the cal changes. thus producing "a virtually undivided
worker".36 From this it might be argued with some job territory for all employed in it, the function of
consistency that workers' interest in matters direct- framing 'rules of occupancy and tenure' for the job
opportunities in the now expanded job territory
will sooner or later be taken over by an industrial
35 Tho. second arpsct 8s rsllecled In Dubm s d#rtmcllon birrsen
lundarnantal and convonl#onal The ltrrl refers 10 ~ r r ~no1
IISUI)I r yet
union"."O
incorporaled In CoIIOCIwe bargammg whereas the latter ale those which Of course. the concepts of 'job territory' and
have h e n mcluded In CoIIect~vebargammg through part negolmona 'jobrelated' issues have some aspects in common,
Dubin R A Theory PI Confltcl and Power In Unton.Menagsmen1
Relmonr hduslnal and Labour Rektrons Revtew 1960 Vol 13 Part 4 they are nevertheless distinct. The first refers more
P 5091 T h s ISuntllmrnatrng as 10 the nalum of the ISSMS faflrngrnlo either
categorv also 11 11nor clear whether en ($suecwnd b. tundmenral m one
wtkplace and C o n v e n l m a l In another Dubm appears 10 be lhmkmg 01 3 7 This 0s expounded in Perlman. S . A Thwry 01 the LdbQQUI Mow.
Ihe supra wrkplace n l u a t ~ o n but 11 fundamental tssuer are rmplv those rnenl. AU~USIUSM Kellev, New York. 1968 lorigma1 edmon 19281
w h r h happen no1 10 ba noImally negormble on a h~aloncalr&IuaImn tho%doer 38 Derb81. M. el 11. collect#^ Bargainong and Management Functions-
not lurther our underslandmg of the nature of l h s e reserved ~ssueabut An Emprical Study". JournalolBusmess. Vol 31. 1 9 5 8 . p 110
simplv provider an altemal#vcterm woth wheh 10 devrlba them 39 Perline. M.. "Organired Labot and Managerial Prerop.llvr1". cab.
36 Clarke R 0 at aI Warkeo Pamcipatron m Msnspemenr m Bntdm loma Management R w ~ e w .1 9 7 I,p 4 9
op cot p I 40 Perlman. Selig. op CII , pp 275-6

47
Workplace collective bargaining and managerial prerogatives

to the defence of the job as a preservation of twenty-five marginal issues was presented to man-
employment opportunities, whilst the latter relates agers and stewards and they were asked whether
more to regulating the conditions under which that these items had in fact been negotiated (see Table
job will be carried out. I). Three types of information were sought from
In the light of our empirical survey, it will be the data. Firstly, some indication of the range of
interesting to observe whether British workers bargaining occurring at the workplace: is it restric-
have, at the workplace level, negotiated more upon tive or extensive? Secondly, the variables associat-
the job-territory issues of union security than they ed with those differences in bargaining scope.
have upon the jobrelated issues affecting working Thirdly, the types of issues subjected to negotia-
conditions. I n America both Derber and Perline tion. and the types of issues excluded.
suggest that the former is the main focus for
organised labour. THE SCOPE OF WORKPLACE
BARGAINING
ISSUES NEGOTIATED: EMPIRICAL From the management returns we find that of
RESULTS the 25 listed issues, the average (mean) number
In the surveys and plant studies in the four reported as having been negotiated was seven per
industries, both the range and type of issues being establishment. At the same time there is a wide
negotiated were examined. variation between establishments: whilst some had
It should be made clear at this point that this negotiated on 16 of the issues, others had negotiat-
survey seeks to elucidate how the situation is (or ed on none of them. The results from the shop
rather was, at the time of the survey) rather than stewards’ survey were similar. Of the listed issues,
how any party thinks it ought to be. In this the stewards reported having negotiated on aver-
important respect it differs markedly from the age 8.9 of them. Thus, whilst there was a tendency
recent survey by Clarke et al at which ostensibly for managers to underestimate and stewards to
contained a section on “The Pattern of Workers’ overestimate their tally, these figures show neither
Influence Upon Managerial Decision Making”. party to be grossly exaggerating their estimates.
whereas what it in fact measured was the accepta- So, with on average between seven and nine
bility to management of worker-influence in cer- ‘marginal’ issues being ‘negotiated at workplace
tain areas. On the basis of hypothetical cases, it level. (issues rarely negotiated at any other level)
sought to establish whether management would this suggests some significant development in plant
consult or negotiate. For example, on the issue of bargaining. As indicated, however, there is marked
contracting-out, they write: “the great majority of variation between establishments: some are clearly
firms do not regard a decision to put work out to negotiating very little, whereas others are indulg-
subcontract as one which they ought to discuss as a ing in a great deal. Table 2 gives a frequency
maffer of course with the unions or their distribution: it suggests that trade unionists and
workers”!’ In other words, it is a record of managers in many establishments have a wide
managerial perceptions and attitudes concerning scope to develop their bargaining whilst remaining
their ‘rights’. on ground well-developed by others.
The distinction between attitudes and behaviour There was variation between industries: engin-
here is crucial because of the very marginality of eering and transport generally had more joint
the decision areas being investigated. Whilst it may regulation. brewing and fibres generally less. Pas-
be true that firms were reluctant “to commit senger transport undertakings scored high on
themselves strongly to negotiation on these is- domestic negotiation despite their observance of
sues”.4* this is surely not a matter for surprise. the NJIC agreement. So it is not a case of wide
As an alternative to this approach. an ‘index’ of bargaining by default of industry-wide activity.
In assessing the trend in the scope of bargaining
41 Clarke. R 0 81 al. op cil ,p 94. emphasis eddsd over the previous five years, 70% of stewards
4 2 ,bid p 96 thought there had been some increase in scope
48
TABLE 1: Types of issues negotiated
.~ -~ ~~

% of Establishments Negotiating
the Issue
Management Steward
Issue Reports Reports

(n = 93) (n = 141)
I Speed of work 48 13
2 Quality standards of work 20 29
3 Layout of equipment 8 23
4 Shifts 68 56
5 Manning 54 57
6 Redundancy 48 60
1 Dismissal 40 61
8 Discipline 41 63
9 Overtime (existence of, and allocation) 54 12
10 Rest periods 41 53
II Production techniques and methods 26 38
12 Guaranteed week 32 55
13 Contracting work out 13 25
14 Job content 51 48
15 Price of product 1 8
16 Type of Product 0 9
17 Scheduling of operations 20 28
18 Source of materials used 0 6
19 Transfer of employees 45 62
20 Ownership. shares in enterprise 0 1
21 Level of output/service II 20
22 Control over influx of new employees 24 31
23 Promotions I 11
24 Demarcation 41 30
25 Investment policy 0 1

(and over half of these said the increase had been a TYPES OF ISSUES NEGOTIATED
large one). Only one steward out of 141 thought The reasons why a particular establishment fails
there had been a decrease in scope. to negotiate a particular issue is a different ques-
Nevertheless. the majority clearly felt that there tion to why. in general, certain issues fall outside
was still some way to go. just over a half thought the scope of bargaining. On the first problem the
that a lot more control by workers through their answer may be sought by looking to differences in
union was needed at the workplace. Significantly, technologies, to the scope of higher level agree-
establishments with wide scope were found to ments which the plant may follow. and by looking
contain as much pressure to extend it further as to other historical, structural and action variables.
were establishments with the least joint regulation. But to seek reasons why certain issues in general
Similarly. managements in establishments with a are almost universally decided by management is
narrow range were as keen to contain that scope as an inherently different task. Here. one looks more
were those with the widest range. closely not so much at the situation of particular
49
Workplace collective bargaining and managerial prerogatives

TABLE 2: Frequency distribution of issues negotiated per establishment

No. of Issues No. of Establishments with this Range


Negotiaied Management Reports Steward Reports

(n = 93) (n = 141)
21 - I
20 - 2
19 - 2
18 - 2
17 - 3
16 4 7
I5 2 5
14 1 7
13 4 8
12 4 10
II 9 7
10 8 14
9 8 12
8 3 9
7 6 8
6 7 II
5 5 7
4 4 7
3 8 7
2 6 I
I 5 5
0 9 6

93 141

establishments but at the issues themselves. be utilised at the hirer's discretion. The effort-
The 25 issues chosen for inclusion in the list bargain is a far more complex affair. (It also
shown in Table I ranged from issues concerned suggests that at the workplace level. 'job content'
with the immediate job experience (speed of work, as opposed to 'job context' can be made as valid an
rest periods) to prima facie managerial issues area for collective bargaining as it is for job
(investment, price and type of product). enrichment exercises.)
Is it the case that workers' representatives have A complete rank ordering of issues by frequency
confined themselves within certain theoretical of negotiation is given in Appendix 1.
limits of legitimate bargaining areas? If so. what is The resort to negotiation varies greatly between
the basis or rationale behind the choice of issues? the different issues: some are clearly rarely nego-
The most widely negotiated issues were shifts tiated, others frequently. But even the 'manage-
(68% reported negotiations here), manning (54%). ment issues' of price of product, type of product
overtime (54%) and job content (51%). The inclu- and source of materials had been negotiated by
sion of job content in this high position is signifi- some stewards. Thus, 20% had negotiated about
cant: it suggests that recruitment of labour power level of output and 9% about the type of product.
is not a simple hiring of men's time which can then It seemed therefore that, although the 'rarely-
50
negotiated’ cluster of issues could be characterised which directly affect their day to day working lives.
as ‘generally management matters’, they are not Yet ultimately, the financial decisions may be
absolute rights, rather they may be more correctly more crucial to the workforce as a whole (for
assessed as areas of decision-making which have, example in circumstances of plant relocation or
so far. been to a lesser degree assailed than other redundancies) than are the ‘minor’ decisions on
areas. They comprise ground which. although rest periods and manning. But even to state the
difficult terrain for stewards in general. and the contrast is to give some clue, for, these job-
home of particularly hostile resisting forces, is not experience issues are for the individual worker not
totally impassable. nor indeed untrodden. ‘minor’ at all. Indeed, they may be of greater
The labour utilization issue results are interest- importance than the distant possibility that
ing. The right to transfer employees (inter- and because of a merger his company’s policies may
intra-departmentally) would seem to be a manage- change. The latter may be challenged in the event
ment function of labour allocation, yet 88 stewards anyway.
(62%) reported having negotiated about it. and The mystique of financial management is un-
45% of managers agreed that they had negotiated it doubtedly a factor intimidating workplace repre-
with their stewards. Similarly, manning levels are sentatives from venturing too seriously into this
often regarded as a clear management function, They may feel more adept at challenging
yet 81 stewards (57%) and 50 managers (54%) the outcome rather than the financial design itself.
concurred that negotiations had also occurred To some extent there may be a ‘riding’ of the
here. capitalist system: insofar as managers of compan-
Discipline and dismissal are often seen as crucial ies compete to sustain and develop their own
guarantors of management’s other functions: man- companies, then on this particular aspect there
agers often claimed that they would not negotiate may be less incentive to interfere.
upon these matters. Yet 60% of stewards and 40% The question arises as to how far management’s
of managers reported that they had negotiated on stand on prerogatives is a matter of principle and
each of them. Hence, although collective bargain- how far simply a practical strategy. Clarke et al
ing is necessarily a two-party process, it is clear assert both conflicting points with equal forceful-
that management cannot always exclude from it ness. On the one hand, they state: “The response
many issues which it theoretically prefers to regard of management to unions is almost entirely prag-
as its own. Nevertheless, it remains true that the matic: if unions are strong and determined to
main issues reported to be not negotiated, were of extend the range of their bargaining interests, as
the financial management as opposed to the man- the evidence from the United States indicates, they
management type. will be able to achieve this Furthermore,
Job-related issues appear the main focus of we are told that the “main reason why manage-
workplace bargaining, these include overtime, dis- ment has a unitary rather than a pluralistic view of
cipline, dismissal and redundancy. Job territory the firm is not because of an ideological commit-
issues which relate more to the union’s institution- ment”, but rather a lack of union strength to “insist
al security (contracting out. allocation of work, on management accepting a wider field of joint
demarcation) whilst also widely negotiated came regulation”P6 The reluctance to accept the plurali-
second. The results differ i n this respect then, from stic view is “based not so much upon a theoretical
the American studies outlined earlier43 Such an view of rights and duties.. . but on a,belief that
emphasis on job-related issues might have been the objectives of the unions are different from
expected at the workplace level. for it is here that those of management - and therefore must at
workers are likely to press for regulation on issues
44 Allhough in a m o d a t altsmpl 10 counter this the TUC has published
43 In !he case 01 M Perline. however. his was a survey 01 “organired a working guide: “Costs and Profits: Financial Intormalion tor Trade
labour’s bdiefs”. op cil , p 47. as such. his respondenis were more likely Unionists”. 1969
10 sties the importance of issues at f aim g the institutional interests of tha 45 Clarke. A 0 et aI. op. tit.. p 99
union 46 ibid

51
Workplace collective bargaining and managerial prerogatives

some point come into conflict”?’ I n other words. survey were parties to an industry-wide agreement
management and employer objections are not at which level a number of important issues were
matters of principle or ideology but of the practi- settled. (In the case of brewing. attachment to a
calities of costs. higher-level agreement is more irregular and
Yet. later in the same work. this argument is where it occurs the brewing companies follow
totally contradicted. it being now suggested that regional agreements: in the case of man-made
the defence of managerial prerogatives is after all fibres an industry-wide agreement no longer ex-
based on matters of principle: “managerial author- ists.)
ity in the eyes of most managers, has been This accords with the recent study by Boraston.
grounded not only on functional requirements. but Clegg and Rimmer. who hypothesised that ‘tight’
even more fundamenraltv on the exercise of an company or industry agreements would lead to
inheren, righr . . . management is still acutely con- greater ‘dependence’ of the workplace upon the
cerned to maintain what it considers to be the local full-time union officer, whereas in fact they
essential foundation of its authority. namely the found a low correlation
moral right to take certain decisions without chal- The notion that higher-level agreements would
lenge from the unions”!R in themselves ‘restrict’ the development of work-
Now there is surely an inherent contradiction place bargaining seems to assume too definitive a
here: “Moral rights” are by definition something list of areas amenable to negotiation. Parochial
more than “practical reasons” and certainly cannot independence would not appear to be the key to
be considered as “entirely pragmatic”. the development of strong workplace representa-
A balanced assessment must recognise that in- tion. I n fact. establishments which were part of
deed for some managers their ‘prerogatives’ are multi-plant companies tended to have a wider
viewed as a matter of principle: they d o feel that bargaining scope than single-plant companies.
managers have a genuine right to manage. and This relationship held across all four industries.
owners a right to control their assets as they see fit. Employers with single plants would appear to be
However. for others, and there are at least a especially intent on preserving their managerial
significant minority. managerial prerogatives are rights and resisting union incursions.
essentially a matter of practicality: when the costs Insofar as the structure of negotiations and
of defending them outweigh the gains they readily agreements was a factor. this tended to be related
prefer to negotiate. to management policy. For example. in each of
our four industries there was a high correlation
VARIABLES INFLUENCING WORKERS’ between recognition of non-manual unions and
PENETRATION INTO ‘MANAGERIAL the scope of bargaining with manual employees.
D ECISI0N S’ Where management recognised non-manual trade
A third objective was to find why workplace unions. this tended to indicate their responsiveness
bargaining had made a substantial impact in some to a wider role for collective bargaining in general.
establishments but not in others. A number of Management policy was shown to be important.
hypotheses were constructed from the plant studies too. when comparing natural textiles with man-
and from the literature. made fibres. In the former, there is a tradition of
The most immediately apparent factor was the close co-operation between management and local
type of industry. In this four-industry study. tran- full-time officers. and a refusal by plant manage-
sport and engineering were found to be character- ment to recognise workplace lay representatives
ised by a wider bargaining scope than brewing and for negotiating purposes other than for piece-rate
man-made fibres. This, despite the fact that i n settlements.
both former instances the establishments in the Other sub-variables of industry-type are the
technological and economic factors. The type of
4 7 ibid
4 8 #bid, PP 1 5 2 - 3 4 9 Borasian. I ei al. Workplace and Union op CII p 179

52
technology employed is usually a key constituent in terms of numbers employed, usually presents a
of industry taxonomies, and it is also a factor fairly reliable guide to the degree of formalised
which has attracted a good deal of attention in the workplace bargaining and the range of negotiated
search for determinants of many aspects of issues. This retationship was found to be positive
management-worker relations. One might have in the present survey. although the correlation did
expected a high degree of correlation here: tail-off at the higher levels. Respondents in plants
however, there was less support in this study for of 5000 plus reported a greater resort to joint
the purely technological factor than the economic. consultation.
Difficult product market situations. unemploy- There were two other variables which were
ment in the industry and locality, all seemed to positively correlated with wide bargaining scope:
weaken the potential for influence by the shop trade union density and the incidence of industrial
floor collective. If the market was unstable. so too action. Managers themselves expressed the belief
the frontier of control. that organised action had, in recent years. forced
The size of workforce is revealed as a further concessions on many non-wage issues. However,
factor correlating with a wide range of bargaining one needs to be cautious here, for. conflict may be
at workplace level. The survey found that with an initiated by management, or, a history of industrial
increase in size. the average number of issues action could betray a situation of managerial
negotiated per establishment increased accord- intransigence informed by dogged ideological
ingly. The reasons for this could be numerous. belief in managerial rights.
Larger establishments, for example. are more I n that manifest conflict could mark the location
likely to have a greater degree of formalisation in of such situations, it might therefore be postulated
industrial relations. that a high level of conflict would be associated
The argument from size should not. however. be with low penetration, not high.
overstated. Circumstances may arise where smaller On the other hand, the positive correlation,
establishments develop a wide range of bargain- which was sustained across each of the industries
ing: even the very fact of limited size may enhance and across all forms of industrial action, itself
the common identity of the group in a way less contains sufficient justification for closer attention
likely on a larger site with an amorphous mass of to be paid to the complex interrelationship
fellows. Further. elected representatives of these between the relative power of the parties and the
smaller groups have the same incentives to nego- circumstances surrounding their willingness to act.
tiate effectively. The ubiquitous AUEW stewards
representing pockets of maintenance craftsmen in CONCLUSIONS
scattered plants across all types of industries. do Any overall assessment of the conceptual analy-
not appear to be muted in their attempts to sis and empirical findings outlined above must at
establish effective representation. this stage be tentative.
Even if size were related say to impersonality. There seems to be ground for arguing that the
alienation. and generally poor relations. none of extension in workplace bargaining has not been
these are necessarily translatable into an effective brought about by a sustained planned challenge,
impact of workplace bargaining. Size may lead to but rather derives from ad hoc attempts to restrict
complexities in negotiations which could increase management’s exercise of arbitrary power. Support
the likelihood of tensions and militancy. which for this kind of interpretation can be found i n two
may in turn yield some power. but these frustra- recent works by Hyman and Goldthorpe. The
tions could equally be turned towards the task of former rightly observes that “the effort bargain
attaining limited objectives and high cash settle- creates an inevitable worker interest. however
ments. tacit. in the sphere of managerial prerogatives -
These reservations made. it nevertheless remains an interest which is no less real even when
a good apriori case that the size of an undertaking consciousness of it is suppressed by acceptance of
53
Workplace collective bargaining and rnanageriol prerogatives

generalised notions of the legitimacy of manager- concerned to demonstrate that the basic structures
ial of capitalist society remain essentially unassailed:
In a similar vein, Goldthorpe adds that “to claim that opposition to management uninformed by
that the increased bargaining strength of labour conscious intent to change these fundamental
and the growth of the informal system of work- structures implies an underwriting of managerial
place relations have resulted in a serious loss of legitimacy: and. in such circumstances, collective
authority.. . is one which involves a good deal of bargaining serves further to sustain, not challenge,
conceptual uncertainty”?’ workers’ continued subordination to management
He then goes on to distinguish between control.
authority (in the Weberian sense of the rational- T h e research conducted for this report seemed
legal exercise of command) and the concept of to indicate that when workers challenged manage-
power (the ability to coerce and influence). ment on such issues as discipline, dismissal, man-
Both writers, then, are arguing that managerial ning. or j o b content, they were not attempting to
authority remains intact: what has apparently vitiate totally management’s decision-making role
occurred so far has been “a decline not in manage- in general, nor indeed even denying a managerial
ment’s authority but in its purely d e fact0 capacity role on these particular issues. Nevertheless. they
to secure the compliance of workers with its were making conscious efforts to set limits t o such
specific requirements”?* decision-making capabilities: certain sorts of out-
We could at this juncture include Alan Fox and come were seen as not legitimate. Therefore.
then argue that this triumvirate are essentially insofar as these oppositional attempts were SUC-
cessful, their ultimate effect could only be, not just
50 Hyman. R , Social Valuer and Industrial RelatlonJ. Baal1 Blackr*sll, to circumscribe power, but to produce a reduction
Oxford. 1975. p 238
51 Goldthwps, J H ,op cot , p 427
too in managerial authority, at least in these
5 2 (bid, p 4 2 9 particular orbits of control. Authority is divisible.

54
APPENDIX 1
Rank ordering of type of issues negotiated

Stewards(n = 141) Management ( n = 93)


Issue Negotiating Rank Rank Negotiating
90 %

Overtime 72 I 3 54
Discipline 62 2 10 41
Transfer of employees 62 3 9 45
Dismissal 61 4 II 40
Redundancy 60 5 6 48
Manning 57 6 2 54
Shifts 56 7 1 68
Guaranteed Week 55 8 12 32
Rest periods 53 9 7 41
Job content 48 10 4 51
Production techniques 38 II 13 26
Control over influx 31 12 14 23
Demarcation 30 13 8 41
Quality standards 29 14 I5 20
Scheduling of operations 28 15 16 20
Contracting work out 25 16 17 13
Layout of equipment 23 17 19 8
Level of output 20 18 18 II
Speed of work 13 19 5 48
Promotion II 20 20 I
Type of product 9 21 22 0
Price of product 8 22 21 1
Source of materials 7 23 23 0
Investment I 24 24 0
Ownership 1 25 25 0

Management and stewards agree to a large


extent upon the ‘negotiability’ of the various
topics. Sixteen of the issues reported by manage-
ments are ranked within two places of the rankings
given by stewards. From issue 14 to 25 the rank
orders are almost identical. Spearman’s rank corre-

sis that rs = 0. The result of r,-


lation coefficient was used to test the null hypothe-
0.807 indicated a
highly significant correlation at the .01 level of
confidence.

55