The Democratic Aspects of Trade Union Recognition


Alan Bogg is a Fellow and Tutor in Law of Hertford College, Oxford.


The long ascendancy of pluralism and ‘collective laissez-faire’ as a guiding ideology of British labour law was emphatically shattered by the New Right ideology of Thatcher and Major. When New Labour was finally returned to power in 1997, it did not, however, attempt to resurrect the pre-Thatcher preference for pluralist non-intervention in collective industrial relations. Instead, it purported to follow a ‘Third Way.’ A centerpiece of this new approach was the statutory recognition provision, introduced in Schedule A1 TULRCA 1992. By breaking with the tradition of voluntarism in respect of recognition of trade unions, Britain’s New Labour sought to provide a model of collective labour law which combined legal support with control through juridification. A closer study of both the history of approaches to recognition and the current provisions opens up fundamental questions as to the nature of this new model and the ones it aimed to replace. This book uses political philosophy to elucidate the character of those historical approaches and the nature of the ‘Third Way’ itself in relation to statutory union recognition. In particular, it traces the progressive eclipse of civic republican values in labour law, in preference for a liberal political philosophy. The book articulates and defends a civic republican philosophy in terms of freedom as non-domination, the intrinsic value of democratic participation through deliberative democracy, and community. This can be contrasted with the rights-based individualism and State neutrality characteristic of the liberal approach. Despite the promise of civic community in the ‘Third Way’ rhetoric, the book demonstrates that the reality of New Labour’s experiment in union recognition was an emphatic reassertion of liberalism in the sphere of workers’ collective rights. This is the first monograph to offer a sustained critical analysis of legal approaches to trade union recognition. It will be of particular interest to labour lawyers, but also a wider audience of scholars in political philosophy and industrial relations. The 2010 Society of Legal Scholars Birks Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship has awarded this book first prize.


‘Allan Bogg is a genius. His recent book The Democratic Aspects of Trade Union Recognition is a tour de force of 20th-century British industrial relations history, theory and employment law jurisprudence.’
–Tim Ayres, Journal of Industrial Relations, Volume 53, No. 5 

Bogg’s finely structured and nicely written book makes an important contribution to labour law scholarship by providing a coherent and sustained normative justification for active state support for trade union recognition, a list of the key elements of what this support should look like, and a critical analysis of the interpretation and application of the UK statutory recognition procedure contained in Schedule A1 of the Trade Union and Labour Regulations … Act 1992. 

The Democratic Aspects of Trade Union Recognition makes a valuable contribution to labour law scholarship by emphasizing the important role that trade unions and collective bargaining play in furthering core values such as freedom as non-domination and political equality in democratic societies. 
— Judy Fudge, The International Journal of Law in Context, Volume 7, Issue 1, 2011 

…the book provides a bold and exemplary study in labour law, which combines clear discussion of political theory with a detailed assessment of legal provisions. 
–Hugh Collins, British Journal of Industrial Relations, May 2011 

[a] comprehensive and detailed account of union recognition procedures and the political philosophies underpinning them 
Sian Moore 
–The Industrial Law Journal, March 2010 

The Democratic Aspects of Trade Union Recognition is an excellent book, the result of years of thoughtful engagement with the subject matter. 
–Ruth Dukes, Modern Law Review, Volume 73, Issue 4, 2010 

Book Details

  • Publisher: Hart Publishing (September 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841137901
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841137902


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