The Labour Party had already made it clear that there would be no statutory incomes policy. Instead, what was offered as an answer to rising inflation, the balance of payments crises and anarchic industrial relations was the ‘Social Contract’, a trade union agreement to curb wage rises to no more than the increase in the retail price index in return for a government commitment to social policies, including improved employee protection. The Government started to deliver. Michael Foot at the Department of Employment quickly brought the month-long miners’ strike to an end. The 1971 Industrial Relations Act was repealed, thus ending the National Industrial Relations Court, the Commission on Industrial Relations and the process of registration. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) took over the role of the Department of Employment’s long-established conciliation service, but with the intention of its being free from government interference. It was also expected to encourage union recognition by employers and develop good codes of practice in industry. Its director, Jim Mortimer, had long advocated that British trade unions should be pressing for the legal right to recognition.
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- Decline and Fall? 1974–98
W. Hamish Fraser
- Macmillan Education UK
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