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21st-century models of employee representation: structures, processes and outcomes

Andy Charlwood and Michael Terry
Industrial Relations Journal, 38, 4, 320-37


The 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey allows further exploration of the fate or workplace-based forms of employee representation charted by earlier surveys. We describe the occurrence and diversity of representational forms, union, non-union and 'hybrid', and the structural characteristics of workplaces where they are found. We go on to analyse a number of structural and processual differences and differences in outcomes. In particular, we try to estimate the effects of different forms for outcomes such as wage dispersion, procedural 'fairness' and productivity. The data show that 'hybrid' systems of union and non-union representation are associated with the best outcomes, therefore, notwithstanding the continuing decline in the diffusion of the 'traditional' union-based model of workplace representation, union presence is still a prerequisite for effective representation, while 'pure' non-union forms serve neither employee nor employer interests.