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Union involvement in training and workplace performance

The role of recognized trade unions in the UK, has been positively conceived with regard to performance in workplaces. A number of studies have showed a relationship between high performance and high union involvement. An analysis of WERS 1998 data, highlights high involvement management (HIM) to have a positive effect on productivity, which is restricted to workplaces having union. The study also found that workplaces having unionised HIM have excellent employment relations and a higher trust environment.

Studies also showed that a combination of HIM and unionisation extracts high labour productivity and improves workplace financial performance. About 95% of workplaces having a recognised union and cordial employment relations, have achieved an average increase in productivity in the last five years. Public service improvement strategies are more successful when employees and trade unions are involved from the early stages of the strategy. The union plays a vital role in employee training.

A positive correlation has been determined between the presence of union and the training Union involvement in workplace learning 7 programmes, in the private sector. Reduced labour turnover and reduced wage dispersal are associated with unionisation, which maximise the returns on training investments. The TUCs 2003 Labour Force Survey emphasizes unions’ presence to have a significant impact on training. About 39% of union members had undergone some training compared to 26% of non-unionised members.

Employees succeed in getting more training, only when training is negotiated by the employers, with the union, rather than employers just consulting the union on training issues. Unionised workplaces are more likely to have a training centre and a training plan. Positive effects are further seen when training profile is raised by collective bargaining. When unions succeed in having a more direct role in implementation of training, their role in training is vastly extended.

When unions have an enlarged role in training, the union sector can have a potentially vital influence on the state of human capital in British economy. Research by ILO have highlighted that when unions are directly associated with training policy decision making at the highest level, the organisation is more likely to implement several high performance practices. Another important aspect of union involvement in training policies is that it helps to distribute employee benefits of training access and pay in a more reasonable way.

The union learning reps have significantly provided training access to groups that have previously been disadvantaged. These include mainly the unqualified and lower hierarchical level employees, ethnic minorities, older workers, women, part time and temporary workers. Union involved training has also benefited the union members more than non-union members, with respect to pay increases. Post training Union involvement in workplace learning 8 wages for male union members were about 21% higher than their pre-training wages. For the non-unionised male, the wage rise was only 4%.

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