This paper is focused on sectoral restructuring and changes in industrial relations in further education (FE colleges) during the 1990s, brought about by the 1992 Further and Higher Education Act. Its concern is particularly with the workplace implications of such restructuring and change for lecturers' union representatives and their members. The very rapid pace and fundamental nature of these developments generated deep and considerable workplace discontent, lecturers were denied an effective voice for the expression of this discontent and something close to a “Bleak House” scenario in FE colleges was created. There was a significant departure from what were essentially corporatist industrial relations traditions in the sector, and the paper suggests that there has been a lasting and critical effect on the nature and trajectory of industrial relations in FE in spite of policy initiatives and developments in the post‐1997 period of Labour government.
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