To ascertain whether legislative and tradeunion approaches, aimed at reducing employment inequality, can be considered inisolation, it is important to evaluate the effect litigation and collectivebargaining can have on each other. One particular legal outcome of the rulingin Allen and others v GMB portrays anexample of adverse interactions between legislation, trade unions and the UKgovernment. Moreover, The case highlights the historically hostilenature between trade union collective bargaining and its relationship withequality legislation.
The Single Status Agreement, a collectivelocal government agreement, requires local authorities to make the terms andconditions of their workforce more equal, which, in most cases, entails jobevaluation exercises that have revealed historical female pay discrimination.Under the agreement, aforementioned revelations of equal pay discrepancieswarranted not only increasing the wages of those effected, but alsocompensating for the entire period of discrimination. In Middlesbrough BoroughCouncil, the collective agreement secured pay protection for male workers atthe expense of back pay entitlements. After several complicated legal issues,the affected women were able to indict the trade union with charges of indirectdiscrimination and victimisation. The government refused to compensate for anyoutcomes of the Single Status Agreement.
As a result, the trade union was heldfinancially responsible for compensating women for historical wagediscriminations. Another case, Preston v Wolverhampton Healthcare Trust, displays a positiveinteraction between trade union activity and legislation to counter employmentinequality. Unlike the Allen and others vGMB case where legislation adversely affected trade unions, in this caselegislation has an empowering effect on trade union activity. Another importantaspect that this case highlights is the diminishing importance of trade unionswhen collective bargaining is traded for adversarial legislation.The Prestonv Wolverhampton Healthcare Trust case concerns about 60,000 women, who werewrongly denied access to their pension schemes.
The case stems from a group ofpart-time workers claiming that they were discriminated against under the EqualPay Act by the aforementioned exclusion from pension scheme. To redress thisdiscrimination, a number of trade unions combined, and sought legal recoursefor 60,000 cases. Even though, this evidently depicts one of trade unionsstrengths, collective might, it also casts doubts on the importance of unionmembership as, ultimately, legislation played a much greater role in providingrights. Conclusion:Critically evaluating, in isolation, theadvantages and disadvantages of trade union and legislative approaches toredress employment equality in the UK revealed the detrimental influence ofpolitical conservatism on legislation. Despite repeated calls proactivelegislation, the actions of the coalition government, in relation to theEquality Act 2010, severely undermined the proactive aspects of the EqualityAct 2010.After considering several instances ofinteractions between trade unions and legislation, it is evident that theseapproaches cannot be considered in isolation. The Allen and others v GMB ruling demonstrates the vulnerability ofcollective bargaining in the face of legislation, and, more importantly, thefutility of considering trade union and legislative approaches in isolation.
The absence of either approach in the aforementioned case would have resultedin completely different outcomes. Forexample, considering the trade union approach in isolation, without takinglegislative recourse into consideration, will result in an unrealistic analysisof the situation. In contrast, the Prestonv Wolverhampton Healthcare Trust case demonstrates the empowering effect ofequality legislation on trade unions, but also questions the importance oftrade unions when legislative means are sought to redress employmentinequality. The case could also lend support to the argument that litigation isbecoming increasingly more important than trade unions.