The basic functions of the Trade Union Congress are political, in terms of its pressure group activity, and administrative, providing a range of services such as shop steward training. The TUC only occasionally is involved in strikes and mediates in inter-union disputes. The TUC has a near monopoly of representation, with high levels of union affiliation at over 80 per cent of trade unionists. In terms of representation, the TUC elects the General Council of approximately 40 members to run its affairs and carry out different policies between each annual congress. The most important functions of the Trade Union Congress are, as a regulator of trade unions in terms of inter-union conflicts, service provision for affiliates particularly in the areas of education and research but also financial and legal services, as the spokesperson of the trade union movement as a whole particularly in representations with governments and in seeking to influence economic or employment policies and as a spokesperson for affiliates in the international arena like the European Union or solidarity links with trade unionists in other countries.
The decline of union membership has many causes such as changes in the economy that have led to fewer male industrial unskilled workers and the fall off of the manufacturing sector has also contributed. In the last two decades the trade union movement has declined by more than half and that decline accelerated in the l990s. From a peak of nearly 14 million members in l970s, the TUC now only represents less than 7 million workers, one in four of the workforce. The ever changing structure of the British economy which has been unstable has led to a decline in trade union membership. There has been an increase in part-time work, more women are in work and more people are working for themselves, this has had a huge impact in the decline, all these groups are harder to organise in unions then the full-time manual workers.
Trade unions have always been in partnership with the manufacturing industry and now that it is being shifted to the service sector, this has also contributed to the decline in membership. According to the BBC News they state that, “one result of the decline in the union membership has been a big change in the structure and composition of the TUC”, the TUC has been trying to restructure and organise their ways, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/911501.stm (accessed on 07/12/09). According to Blyton and Turnbull (1994), “for trade unions, the progress of HRM has posed a number of new problems, sometimes challenging the fundamentals of organisation or purpose, and other times giving a promise of a new partnership role. Some of the political and ideological limitations of trade unionism in capitalist society, which has formed part of the Marxist debate on trade unionism, have been exposed to these new techniques, which operate at the ideological as well as the industrial level”, (Blyton and Turnbull 1994, pg 56).
据玫瑰（2008）、“人力资源管理变得越来越老练的英国在1980年代，在人力资源管理的吸收增长与产业关系和集体主义作为雇佣关系的管理显着特征的重要性稳步下降相吻合。它也正好与工会的成员和影响力的下降“，（玫瑰2008，页39）。然而，另一方面，人力资源管理旨在提供更好的质量，寻求和维护奖励管理，领导，激励，培训和发展，也招聘和选择。人力资源管理部门旨在合并组织整合，介入和参与，灵活性和工作质量。在经历了失业、法律攻击，私有化，在Thatcher /主要年的放松管制和资本的其他攻击，工会运动是不得不面对一个新的，微妙的，但可能影响深远的挑战的“新管理技术”的幌子下，被一位作家为“仁慈“避免工会（N Millward 1994，页3）。
According to Rose (2008), “human resource management became increasingly practised in Britain during the 1980’s, and the growth in the uptake of HRM has coincided with a steady decline in the importance of industrial relations and collectivism as significant features in the management of the employment relationship. It also coincided with a decline in the membership and influence of trade unions”, (Rose 2008, pg 39). However, on the other hand, HRM seeks to provide better quality by seeking and maintaining reward management, leadership, motivation, training and development and also recruitment and selection. The branches of HRM are designed to merge organisational integrations, involvement and participation, flexibility and work quality. Having survived unemployment, legal attacks, privatisation, deregulation and all the other onslaughts of Capital during the Thatcher/Major years, the trade union movement is having to come to terms with a new, subtle, but possibly far-reaching challenge under the guise of the ‘new management techniques’, referred to by one writer as “avoiding trade unions by kindness”, (N Millward 1994, pg 3).