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Between 1945 and 1995 the British trade union movement experienced a series of "highs and lows"; membership grew and declined, and there were associated shifts in unions` bargaining power vis a vis employers and in the influence exercised over Governments. These changes in unions` fortunes will be discussed by reference to three distinct periods:
- 1946 to 1969: Relative Stability;
- 1969 to 1979: Radical Growth and Strikes;
- 1979 to 1995: Radical Decline and Re-Organization.
Three themes will be explored in each period:
- Changes in Unions` Job Territories;
- Key Changes in the British Unions` Context;
- Unions` Organizational and Internal reforms.
Throughout all three periods, but not examined in any detail, unions continued to meet their individual members` "bread and butter" interests by:
- supporting members in disciplinary hearings;
- processing members` grievances;
- protecting members against discrimination;
- providing, legal aid and representation at Industrial Tribunals;
- offering a wide range of Educational Services via the individual union and the TUC;
- providing a range of friendly benefits.
In addition most unions sought to exercise political influence over such issues as labour legislation and economic policy through affiliation to the TUC and in many, but not all cases, affiliation to the Labour Party.