Professor Gregor Gall interviewed by Times Radio on strike action in UK and Hollywood

On 14 July, visiting Professor of Industrial Relations Gregor Gall debated recent strike action with Professor of Economics at the University of Buckingham, Len Shackleton, on Times Radio Drive.

Professor Gall discussed the history of strike action considering recent events in Hollywood that saw over 150,000 actors join film and TV writers in withholding their labour after talks with the major film studios broke down.

When asked whether the causes of recent strikes in the UK and abroad are the same as those that drove the wave of industrial action in the 1980s, Professor Gall responded that “most of the causes in the 1980s were to do with restructuring and redundancy… what we’re seeing now are strikes over cost of living pay increases”.

Professor Gall points out that the UK could have expected similar industrial action during the financial crisis of 2008 to 2009 due to the widespread “pay freezes”. However, “because of the situation of a shrinking economy then many workers, many union members didn’t feel confident to take that kind of action - that’s not now the case that we’ve come out of the pandemic”.

When discussing whether current workers have significantly less power than they did in previous waves of industrial action, Professor Gall comments that the decrease in levels of union density have left unions in a “much weaker position”. However, Professor Gall also notes that unions such as Unite have been successful in specific sectors such as road haulage and refuge collection:

You can see that workers have what you would call associational power (high levels of union density), but also structural power and what I mean by that is that they are able to make a big impact by taking the action that they do because they are central to the supply process and the delivery processes.

BBC Sounds clip starts at 1:06:32.