I decided to speak about employers' organisations in Britain because of a personal and very simple interrogation: I was actually wondering what the equivalent of the French MEDEF in Britain was. At first sight, I discovered quickly that this equivalent is the CBI, The Confederation of British Industry. However, looking at it more closely, this answer is not really satisfying. I think it is important to go further. Indeed, if the CBI is also the main employers' organisation in Britain, and even if the greatest part of its issues is shared with the MEDEF, the way it works is completely different. And this difference is mostly due to the huge difference between French and British economic system. I will try to summarize that point quite rapidly. That's why my first part is largely historical and deals with the roots of Anglo-Saxon economic system. In the second part, I will talk about the main issues the CBI defends and about its relations with the British government, especially with Blair's government.
[...] Answer of the TUC: “Every time they are asked, members of the CBI predicts that an increase in the minimum wage will cause massive job- losses and every time they are proven wrong”. I could go on and on examples, but I think those are quite relevant. As I said before, the CBI is very present on a lot of issues. So, I could have evoked pensions, corporate taxes, public service reform Its position is always liberal and, you have understood it, very close to our French Mede. [...]
[...] That might not be the best way to begin a calm relation with the chief of the government Moreover, even if united States are the main partner of Britain, CBI often pronounces real critics towards American policy. For instance, in 2003, CBI asked Blair to press George Wabash on American protectionism. A measure which is not so easy to take. So, as we can see, the CBI is not at all affiliated to a political party. As in France, you will always find some people to say that UMP is leading a MEDEF policy, some British people [...]
[...] A brief presentation of trade-unionism in Britain It is impossible to understand the role of employers' organisation without explaining the trade-unions movement in Britain. Indeed, British trade unionism is the first in the world. At first, namely at the beginning of the nineteenth century, unions can already be defined “continuous associations of wage-earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment”. This definition won't really change until today. These associations are mostly professional. So, their aim is to negotiate with governments, but they also have other activities (big difference with French ones): juridical advice for wage-earners, distribution of indemnities for illness, for unemployment There is also much less ideology than in France. [...]
[...] However, it is the director general who represents the most the confederation in front of the medias and who is the main personality of the CBI: Richard Lambert is Director-General since the 1st July 2006. (He has been editor of the Financial Times, member of the monetary policy committee of the Bank of England He expresses very regularly CBI's voice in British Medias. Now that we have seen how CBI works, we'll try to understand what its aims are. II The contemporary situation: issues and relations with the British government In order to understand what CBI's contributions are in British political life, I think the best way is to have a look at the recent actuality. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee