Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Edited by Matthew W. Finkin and Guy Mundlak
This chapter is concerned with freedom of association, and in particular the right of individuals to form and join trade unions for the protection of their interests. Much of the debate and scholarship in this area has been dominated by the pioneering work of Sir Otto Kahn-Freund, who writing about a particular experience of the United Kingdom, warned against the dangers of legal transplants in the field of labour law, where he identified problems in relation to collective labour law in particular. The transplant in this case was based on the Wagner and Taft Hartley Acts, brought from the US to the UK by the Industrial Relations Act 1971. Taft Hartley may well have come to Great Britain,but it did not last long, wilting mercilessly in what appeared to be an inhospitable terrain, before being repealed within only three years. Of course, the element of the Industrial Relations Act 1971 that was most repugnant to the trade unions was its system of trade union registration, which constituted a profound breach in the principle of industrial autonomy. That particular element had no counterpart in the US system, which meant that the lessons to be drawn for comparative lawyers from the failed transplantation are somewhat complex.
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