Trade Union and Society: Some Lessons of the British Experience


190 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-88975-056-4




Reviewed by Stephen J. Kees

Stephen J. Kees was Chief Librarian, Niagara College of Applied Arts and Technology, Welland, Ontario.


The authors of Trade Unions and Society are two academic economists who have written extensively in this area; in this work, each has contributed three of the six chapters.

Since the beginning of this century, and perhaps even before, Great Britain has been declining as an industrial power relative to other industrial nations. Much of this decline has been attributed to the so-called “British disease” — a compound of sluggish economic growth, high inflation, and high unemployment.

A large part of the blame for this decline has been attributed to the activities of the trade unions, but, as the authors show, they are in fact only one of the causes. A detailed scrutiny of the effects of unionism on inflation and low productivity reveals that the problems are much more complex than the simple assignment of blame to any one cause. Since this disease is not confined to Britain but affects all western economies to a greater or lesser extent, two possible solutions are discussed in detail.

Canada is not exempt from the effects of this problem and our standard of living will depend largely on how we overcome it. The analysis contained in this volume should help us to understand the problem and to consider what actions we need to take to escape its worst effects.


Addison, John T., and John Burton, “Trade Union and Society: Some Lessons of the British Experience,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024,