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Volume 29 Issue 1 (January 2019), Pages i-iv, 1-96

The evolution of employers' organisations in the United Kingdom: Extending countervailing power (pages 82-96)

Abstract The concept of countervailing power has been used to suggest that the power of unions explains the origins and development of employers' organisations (EOs). However, unions have declined since the 1970s, but EOs continue to play an important role in employment relations. If pressure from unions is not sufficient to explain continuing employer organisation, what does account for it? This article pursues this question by examining the evolution and activity of UK EOs between the 1960s and 2016. Our countervailing power argument goes beyond a sole focus on unions to include changing pressures and demands on EOs caused by the state such as individual rights legislation and campaigns by civil society organisations. The changing force exerted by these societal pressures helps to explain the shift of EOs' focus from collective bargaining, nowadays only pursued by a minority of EOs, to lobbying, provision of services, legal support, and training.

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