The second element of the ‘British disease’ to attract attention has been the British labour force, with its distinctively decentralised and fragmented structure, its apparently antagonistic attitudes to management and its vigorous exploitation of bargaining strength during the long boom. This chapter begins by sketching the broad outlines of change in the labour market during the twentieth century and then looks in turn at debates on unions and pay, productivity and skill. The chapter concludes with a brief overview of unions and the ‘British disease’.
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