Thursday 7 July 2022

Power, pay and profits

What do shifts in firm and worker power mean for wages?

Firms create value – at least the successful ones do. But who benefits, the firm’s owners or workers, and by how much, is often up for grabs. That’s why power in our labour market matters. It doesn’t just affect the level of wages, but the inequality of those wages too. The power of workers – via unions or a tight labour market – or of employers – via being a town’s only hospital – matters. And yet it hardly features in most British policy discussions, despite changing considerably over time, and returning to centre stage in policy debates elsewhere.

To what extent has worker power declined as trade union membership has shrunk, or have other sources of leverage taken their place? Has employer power shrunk or grown in recent decades? How much difference does firm or worker power make to wages? And what should policy makers do about this balance of power over the coming decade?

The Resolution Foundation is hosting an in-person and interactive webinar – as part of The Economy 2030 Inquiry, funded by the Nuffield Foundation – to debate and answer these questions. Following a presentation of the key highlights from new joint RF / LSE research on changes in worker and employer power over time, we will hear from leading experts on what these findings tell us about the level and distribution of wages across Britain.

The event will be open for people to physically attend, alongside being broadcast via YouTube and the Resolution Foundation website. Viewers will be able to submit questions to the panel before and during the event via Slido.