The operation of local labour markets: With respect to redundancies from Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Limited

Herron, Francis (1974) The operation of local labour markets: With respect to redundancies from Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Limited. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

How labour markets respond to economic and/or industrial change has been, particularly in the post-Keynesian era, the concern of policy makers as well as of academic investigators. Although their interests have by no means been mutually exclusive the latter have, in general, been more concerned with investigating whether theoretical models of behaviour help to explain the actions of labour market participants while the former have primarily been interested in devising policies which would improve the working of labour markets to increase economic growth and the general welfare of the community. This research links these two main sets of interests. It does so fundamentally by investigating the labour market behaviour and the employment experience of a random sample of 400 workers made redundant by Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Ltd. between the summer of 1969 and the winter of 1970 attempt to become commercially viable. It also evaluates how effective public manpower policy was in cushioning the impact of redundancy and in helping men to find other jobs. The main research tool was a household survey which yielded 328 (82.5%) successful live interviews. These took place in the summer of 1971 when our respondents had been 'in the market' on average 13 months. Coincidentally, the attempt made by U.C.S, to attain viability ended in failure while the field work was under way. Consequently, besides analysing the behaviour and problems of redundant workers and the relevance of public manpower policy, the study also provides a unique backdrop against which the U.C.S. 'liquidation crisis' and its repercussions are more readily understood. Additional research data were acquired from previous publications on the working of labour markets in theory and in practice, the shipbuilding industry and the problems posed by major redundancies on other occasions. Full use was also made of the professional journals and relevant statistical series published by bodies like the Department of Employment, the Scottish Office and the Chamber of Shipping of the United Kingdom. In addition, information specific to Upper Clyde Shipbuilders was acquired through direct interviews with Personnel management and workers' representatives and through access to the labour records of the company. Initially, the study presents the background to the redundancies including the post-war development of the British shipbuilding industry, particularly its regional implications, and the proposals for change made by the Shipbuilding Inquiry Committee (1965). The subsequent experience of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders is then surveyed and, in particular, the planned reduction of its labour force, implemented mainly through a programme of voluntary redundancy. Details are then presented of the redundant workers who, in comparison with the industry labour force and that remaining at U.C.S., are seen as relatively youthful and skilled. Moreover, most of them were 'finishing' tradesmen and, therefore, seemingly in possession of skills required outside shipbuilding. Against this, however, employment conditions in Great Britain and, more so, on Clydeside during the run-down were, by post war standards, unprecedentedly bad. Although the cut back was based largely on voluntarism this did not confer many advantages on the redundant workers. The failure to allow paid time off for job search and the prevailing employment conditions did much to explain this. Consequently, the post redundancy employment experience of the U.C.S. workers was, in most respects, substantially worse than that of any other redundant workers previously studied in this country. A regression analysis showed that, amongst the-sample, age was the most important single variable influencing subsequent unemployment. Skill level and job search behaviour also seemed to exert an influence but financial labour market measures had no significant impact. Moreover, the overall employment experience of those workers who did find other jobs suggested that they were worse off than had they remained at U.C.S. The problems of the redundant workers were underlined by the facts that twelve percent were continuously unemployed after redundancy and almost a third were out of work when interviewed. Despite the unfavourable employment conditions, however, some of the workers were observed to adopt and benefit from 'economically motivated' labour market behaviour. In the prevailing circumstances, public manpower policy had virtually no impact. The employment service compared badly with informal job search methods. Similarly, unemployment benefit and redundancy pay did not substantially affect labour market behaviour and did not appear related to the amount of subsequent hardship experienced. All this suggests that public manpower policy has to be developed much further if it is to deal adequately with problems such as those occasioned by the decline of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Labor relations, Labor economics
Date of Award: 1974
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1974-73789
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2019 08:56
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2019 08:56
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/73789

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