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Workers, Collectivism and the Law

Grappling with Democracy

Laura Carlson

Workers, Collectivism and the Law offers a captivating historical account of worker democracy, from its beginnings in European guild systems to present-day labor unions, across the national legal systems of Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. Analysing these legal systems in light of a Habermasian concept of participatory democracy, Laura Carlson identifies ways to strengthen individual employee voice in claims against employers.
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Chapter 8: Employee voice in the United Kingdom

Laura Carlson


The themes addressed in the current UK labor law model have deep historical roots, with the current treatment of these issues very much reflecting the modern political debates. Democracy within the trade unions, between members and their organizations, has been used politically as a tool for restricting the power of the trade unions. Despite this, a voluntary trend can be traced within the unions as to greater representation of different worker groups. The UK system has several avenues available as to employee grievances, first bringing them to the employer. Acas can provide conciliation, mediation, and arbitration and trade unions legal assistance. The balance achieved in the UK labor law model between statutory regulation and self-regulation by the social partners, resting on constitutional principles such as natural justice and access to justice, provides a unique solution to the issue of employee voice.

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