Both the government and the independent commentators have claimed that the labour legislation enacted between 1980 and 1990 has had a considerable impact on the conduct of industrial relations. The nature and extent of this impact and the process by which it has come about have usually either been assumed or ignored. This paper reports the results of one part of a research project designed to investigate these issues. Interviews were carried out with managers in a number of engineering companies affiliated to one of three regional associations of the Engineering Employers Federation (EEF) and directors of these associations. The responses showed a high level of awareness of certain developments in the law, in particular the law on strike ballots and the vulnerability of individual workers who take industrial action. There were, however, strong elements of continuity in industrial relations structures and practices and the law had generally been accommodated within these, rather than leading to radical new departures. While these employers were probably more willing to ''use the law'' than was suggested in Marsh''s survey of the industry as a whole twenty years earlier, in most cases there was an evident desire to keep this use within limits that would normally fall short of issuing a writ
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