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The Relationship between Britain and Europe  – Role of the Trade Unions

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) and many of the largest trade unions had been opposed to Britain’s membership of the EU in the 1975 referendum and the early 1980s.

However, in contrast to the period from 1945 onwards, the Thatcher Governments excluded them from any participation in policy-making.

Trade unions also began to perceive that regulations favouring labour were more likely to be created at the EU than the national level, given increasing economic interdependence and competition, and Jacques Delors speech to the 1988 TUC Congress proposing a Social Chapter reinforced this view.

Ben Rosamond, Political Studies Vol. 41 No 3, 1993 and Gerard Strange Political Studies Vol. 50 No 2, 2002 both explain the change in trade union views though disagree on key aspects of the reasons.

****This page is under review following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union and Brexit process****