MOGENS H ANDERSSON
Union activity is for us an important part of humanities struggle for a better existence. The wisdom of our basic Principles must be reestablished with each new generation. That is our mission.
THE SWEDISH UNION OF COMMERCIAL EMPLOYEES HANDELS
2 DELIMITATION 3
3 INTRODUCTION 3
4 DEFINITIONS 4
5 GREAT BRITAIN 4
5.1 TRADE UNIONS AND THE LAW 5
5.1.1 COMBINATION ACT 5
5.1.2 TRADE UNION ACT. 6
5.1.3 TRADE DISPUTE ACTS. 6
6 The T U C 7
6.1 "MODEL UNION". 7
6.2 MEMBERSHIP 1900-1980s. 7
7 TRADE UNION AND THE LABOUR PARTY 8
7.1 LABOUR REPRESENTATION COMMITTEE 8
8 COLLECTIVE BARGAINING 9
9 EUROPEAN CONTINENT 9
9.1 Belgium, the forerunners of trade unions 9
9.2 The trade union movement in France 9
9.3 In Germany, 10
9.4 Scandinavian countries. 10
10 INTERNATIONAL AND EUROPEAN ORGANISATIONS 11
10.1 WCL,World Confederation of Labour, 11
11 INTERNATIONAL TRADE SECRETARIATS (ITSs), 11
12 INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION of TRADE UNIONS,(IFTU) 13
12.1 IFTU after the WORLD WAR I. 14
13 IFCTU / WCL 14
14 WFTU, World Federation of Trade Unions. 14
14.1 WFTU/ITS's. 15
15 INTERNATIONAL CONFEDERATION of FREE TRADE UNIONS (ICFTU) 16
16 The INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANISATION 16
17 The TRADE UNION ADVISORY COMMITTEE to the OECD(TUAC), 17
18 NFS, 17
19 The ETUC 17
20 CONCLUSIONS 18
The paper chiefly deals with the trade unions within Western Europe,with a special emphasis on the historical background of the British trade unions and as a comparison a brief summary from the following countries:Belgium, Germany, France,and the Scandinavian countries.Besides there is a chapter of some International and European organisations.
Europe comprises, today, some thirty-five separate states,differing in their social and political systems and ranging in size and population from Russia to San Marino.In some countries a single trade union national centre emerged, as in Britain. In other countries political or religious factors led to the appearance of separate and rival national union centres.The period that goes from 1989 up to today has been charactized by profound changes in the political scenario throughout Europe:from the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, to the end of Communism,the disintegration of the Soviet Union, to the war in former Yugoslavia. Trade unionism as a movement originated in Great Britain, in the 19th century.There are of course several reasons why the trade union began in Great Britain. One of the most important explanations is probably the Industrial Revolution.Already around the beginning of the 18th century Britain was more industrialised than the rest of the European continent.By the turn of the century Britain was by far the most industrialised country in the world. Although it is not easy to account for Britain's early industrialisation, some facts stand out:
Definitions of the term 'trade union', also called Labour union, an association of Labourers in a particular trade industry,or plant,formed to obtain by collective action improvements in pay,working conditions, and social and political status.Membership may be on an occupational basis (for instance,they may recruit clerks or fitters wherever employed) or on an industrial basis, or a combination of the two.
The first workplace was formed already during the Middle Ages. Masters and journeymen established the craft- guilds whose main purpose was to control entry into the craft.But they also had to set labour cost prices and the price of the final product. There is no connection between trade unions and medieval craft guilds for the latter were composed of master craftsmen who owned capital and often employed several workers.The master was an established craftsman of recognised abilities who took on apprentices: these were boys in late childhood or adolescence that boarded with the master's family and were trained by him in the elements of his trade.The apprentice was provided with food,clothing,shelter, and an education by the master,and in return they worked for him without payment.After completing a fixed term of service of from five to nine years, an apprentice became a journeyman, i.e., a craftsman who could work for one or another master and was paid with wages for his labour.A journeyman who could provide proof of his technical competence (the "masterpiece") might rise in the guild to the status of a master,whereupon he could set up his own workshop and hire and train apprentices.
In the 16th- and 17th centuries, with the growth of paid employment,wages usually paid as piece-rates were commonly regulated by Acts of Parliament and by local justices of the peace. At the same time combinations of workers or of employers to alter wages and conditions were against the law. In spite of these facts, the artisans began organising themselves in local societies.They had the task to control the entry into the trade and at the same time influence wages and their own interests by fraternal and self-help associations.The early unions were formed partly as social clubs, and always based upon the skilled worker, but soon became increasingly concerned with improving wages and working conditions primarily by the device of collective bargaining. This was not with the approval neither from the employers nor from Parliament, which claimed that such an organisation was a limitation of the free trade and therefore a violation according to common laws.
In 1799 Parliament adopted a new law which made trade unionism illegal: Any workingman who combined with another to gain an increase in wages or a decrease in working hours could be sentenced to three months in jail or to two months hard labour. It was of course even against the law to urge anyone else to leave work or object to working with any other workman. The sentence was to be imposed by two magistrates, and appeal was made extremely difficult.Anyone contributing to the expenses of a person convicted under the act was subject to a fine, and defendants could be forced to bear witness against each other. Other clauses forbade employers´combinations, but these were never in any recorded case put into operation.The combination act was repealed in 1824,after pressure within and outside the House of Commons.This led to the establishment of a Parliamentary Committee.They recommended that the restrictions against the workers' right to combine should be repealed and also granted immunity from prosecution under common law.The repeal of the combination act was followed by a number of strikes, and in 1825 an unsuccesful attempt was made to reimpose the act. Even after those laws were repealed in 1824 legal and administrative measures, against unions continued for a long time. The most notable court case resulted in the sentencing of seven agricultural workers from Tolpuddle in Dorset to seven years transportation for administering unlawful oaths, is remembered in trade union history as the Tolpuddle Martyrs.
The trade union act of 1871 declared that the purposes of trade unions should not, merely by virtue of their being in restraint of trade, be deemed to be unlawful.Passed together with the trade union act was the Criminal law amendment act which re-affirmed liability to criminal prosecution for molesting,obstructing threatening and intimidating, as well as committing acts of violence, in the context of a trade dispute.After the passage of the Trade-Union Act,which effectively legalised trade unions,it took almost another twenty years before the unskilled workers began to form mass organisations and so called general unions began developing.The new unions emphasised nation-wide collective bargaining and demanded a legal minimum wage and an eight-hour day.
The legal status of unions became endangered by the Taff Vale court decision of 1901,which held that unions could be sued for losses incurred by employers as a result of union action. This decision was cancelled by the Trade Disputes Act of 1906.
In the following years trade unionism grew rapidly, but it was not until the passing of the Reform Act in 1832 that union activity began to develop on a large scale.In 1832 the Builders' Union was formed and in 1833 Robert Owen established his Grand National Consolidated Trades Union (GNCTU), with the objective of linking all British trade unions to his own co-operative and socialist movement.However, after a series of strikes and lockouts the GNCTU collapsed in 1834. Many of the GNCTU's member societies continued as separate bodies, and within a few years the trade union movement was again developing rapidly. Attempts to establish organisations at a national level and with a broader recruitment failed, with the exception of the Miners who founded their first national union already in 1842.Unfortunately the new organisation didn't last for more than a year or so.
In 1850-51 the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE) was formed from a number of existing societies of skilled engineers which provided a new model for craft unions with its national coverage and centralised control of finance,its high subscriptions and its wide range of social security benefits to members. It was regarded as a new 'Model' union and copied by other groups of skilled workers.In the next two decades a number of other amalgamated societies were modelled on the ASE.Their leaders joined the struggle for the extension of the franchise(which led to the 1867 Reform Act) and for fuller legal recognition of trade unions.
In order to be able to forward their points of view to Parliament and courts they assembled at conferences and political actions. At a conference in Manchester 1868, the trades union congress-T U C was founded.The TUC was composed almost exclusively of unions of skilled workers until 1889,when it began to accept the first affiliations of "new" or unskilled general unions.
By 1900 TUC had 1,200,000 members in their affiliated unions. Between 1910 and 1920, trade union membership more than trebled, from 2,5 million to 8,5.But the post-war slump of 1921 and the return to the gold standard in 1925 led to a great crisis in the history of British trade unionism-the General Strike of 1926.The failure of the strike resulted in widespread disillusionment, which was intensified by the start of the Great Depression in 1930.By 1933 union membership had fallen to 4,5 million, half of what it had been in 1920. After the World War II union membership gradually increased until by 1969 it stood at more than 13,000,000.By 1997 the membership had fallen to appr seven millions!
One of the first attempts of Labour leaders to engage in political actions came about in the 1830s when unionists joined radical members of Parliament in drawing up a petition for universal male suffrage,which became part of the Chartist platforms.Chartism, the first specifically working-class national movement in Britain, was concerned mainly with electoral reforms, but trade unions played an important part in these activities. Later, in the middle of the nineteenth century,leaders of the craft unions formed a "Junta" which engaged in political action and joined Marx´s International Workingmen´s Association, also referred to as the First International.They even won observers' seat in the first Royal Commission on trade union matters that Parliament set up in 1869 under the leadership of Lord Erle.But the working class did not emerge as a major political force until the miners´entry into the political arena, the extension of the franchise to large numbers of workers, and above all the unionisation of the unskilled workers.
In 1900 the Trades Union Congress co-operated with the Independent Labour Party (founded in 1893) to establish the Labour Representation Committee, (LRC).Six years later 29 LRC members of parliament had been elected and in 1918 the LRC was renamed the Labour Party. In 1924 Ramsay Mc Donald formed the first labour government, with support from the Liberals, but it didn't even last a year.In 1929 Labour again formed a liberal-supported administration which lasted two years.After the Second World War Labour campaigned on a program of nationalisation, reconstruction and the establishment of extended public welfare services; it won a resounding victory. They won the 1950 election with just five more seats than the Conservatives, to whom they lost the power a year later did.The Conservatives stayed in power for thirteen years In 1964 Labour returned to power where they stayed until 1970 when they lost their majority, because they could not agree on whether or not to join the EEC, to the Conservatives under Edward Heath. Mr Heath lost his Prime Minister title in 1974 when he asked the people:who is to govern the country the government or the trade union movement? The Labour party returned to power, which they kept until 1979 when Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister.
Collective bargaining began to be institutionalised in the 1860s with the creation of Boards of Conciliation.The boards normally had equal numbers of representatives from both sides of an industry, and an independent chairman.
In Belgium were the guilds, which survived through the industrial revolution and which were mainly found in the Flemish provinces.The guilds, however, were for all workers whilst trade corporations existed for skilled artisans. Mutual assistance societies were later established, for example, among shoemakers in Ghent in 1807.Anti-combination laws were in effect in 1791 and 1810. That was the reason why they were kept secret and called themselves societies for the maintenance of prices.The most advanced associations were those of the hatters and printers, and the weavers and spinners of Gent from 1842.The latter established the Ligue Antisocialiste des Ouvriers du Coton, in opposition to the first International developed by Karl Marx in 1864.The Christian trade unions originated in the late 1880s.
Began among urban industrial workers in 1830s.It gained ground rapidly and union developed fairly freely after 1864,when Napoleon III introduced measures which supported the workers' right of combination. In 1871, the repression of the Paris commune, a socialist experiment which started from France's defeat in war by Germany, struck a severe blow to the movement, but in 1884 they legalised both worker and employer unions.French trade union history is punctuated by mergers and splits,due to clashes of concepts.Four main ideological trends were present from early times.
Trade unionism began to gather some response after the fall of Kansler von Bismarck in 1890.One national federation, under socialistic influence was formed that year.In 1894 the Roman Catholic Centre Party established a much smaller federation of Christian unions. Nationalist- and, for a brief period, Communist led unions, as well as separate white-collar unions were formed at various times before World War I.On the whole, however, the unions played a fairly insignificant role during this period.After World War I the Socialist-inspired unions organised in three main federations:one for the manual workers (ADGB) and two confederations for white-collar employees and civil servants. Unionism flowered during the short period of prosperity in the 1920s but was destroyed by the National Socialist Party´s take-over in 1933.The labour Front, established and totally controlled by the Nazi-Party, was not a union by any definition of the term. Immediately after World War II a powerful trade union movement came into being in West-Germany.It was based on a merger of 16 Socialist and Christian industrial unions in a unified German Federation of Trade Unions,DGB.
Trade unions appeared in the nineteenth century at the time of industrial revolution and break up of the old agrarian society.Legal obstacles to the formation of unions were gradually abolished around 1850.In the 1880s and 1890s various trade unions were created,most of them based on the occupational or craft principle.In 1898 central trade union confederation for blue-collar workers, the Swedish Trade Union Federation, the Landsorganisationen i Sverige, was formed.The Swedish trade union movement was struck a devastating blow in 1909 by the defeat of its general strike.Norwegian and Swedish unions are organised chiefly on an industrial basis, whereas the Danish unions - comparable to the British in this respect - are both general and industrial.
There are three world organisations of national trade union centres, all of which are recognised by the UN and its agencies as representatives of Labour at world level:
There are 14 associated international trade secretariats.The ITSs are composed of individual national unions rather than of national federations, maintain close relations with the ICFTU, while remaining fully autonomous bodies.
Comprises trade unions from the Third World countries and some countries in Europe,the so called BENELUX-countries. The regional organisations of WCL are as follows:
There are nine international trade federations associated to the WCL. WFTU, World Federation of Trade Unions, there are no available information about this organisation.
Are federations of national trade union organisations, which operate world-wide, and whose members work in specific, clearly-defined occupations,branches,industries or other specific areas of employment.In other words, they are international federations, representing workers from a specific industry or an area defined by other criteria. Workers' and their organisations realised at an early stage how useful and necessary international solidarity would be.This dates back to times when crafts journeyman and occasionally factory workers "travelled" across Europe and established first ties between local societies for workers' protections it seemed the practical and necessary thing to do,first contacts and agreements were established across national borders as early as the 60s and 70s of the last century.National workers' unions genuinely co-operated for occupational reasons as early as the 80s and 90s of the last century.When representatives of socialist parties and of some trade associations met in Brussels in 1891 for the "International Labour Congress", delegates of the timber,metal and textile trades used the opportunity to agree to some modest cooperastion beyond their national frame of action:Initially, the so-called mutual agreements were intended to ensure that members received equal treatment from foreign trade union organisations and mutual support financially while on the road.
How to prevent the use of foreign workers as strike breakers was another issue covered in these agreements. In other words, the trade groups started to internationalise before the national centres did.In the 20 years between 1890-1910 a large number of international organisations of various trades unions were established.The shoemakers,for instance,united in 1889,the miners in 1890 and the tailors in 1893.Some were just informal structures without permanent influence,but the majority of present-day ITSs can trace their origins directly to them or to a forerunner.Almost all of these first federations were ideologically oriented towards a socialist or social-democratic philosophy.But their main activities were of a more practical nature:exchanging information about working conditions,defending themselves against attempts by employers to use foreign workers as strike breakers and mobilising support in large-scale industrial disputes. In 1914 there were 33 International Trade Secretariats.
The outbreak of the First World War I put an end to the ITSs' development. Even though it was possible to keep up contacts during the war, the activities of most ITSs came almost to a standstill. When hostilities ceased old contacts could be revived, but the new beginning took place under changed conditions. London Amsterdam and Geneva had now become the headquarters of the Secretariats.But only a few of them had their own office.It was still the largest national union, which as a rule ran the office. The limited knowledge of foreign languages among the early labour leaders continued to prevent international contacts from taking effect more rapidly.
In a first step in the early 20s a number of mergers took place.Many trades either disappeared or lost their important role, the principle of industrial unions was gradually applied more widely and unions realised that they could increase their bargaining power by uniting; the result of this was that the number of ITSs went down slowly,but steadily.
Objectives and tasks remained practically the same,but they could move into new areas of activities. This opportunity was offered with the foundation of the International Labour Organisation in 1919,which provided a platform for the participation of workers' representatives in formulating international minimum standards and norms at work (International Conventions and Recommendations). However, all these successes could not prevent economic and political developments in the inter- war period from pushing the international Labour Movement into trhe defensive.
All Western labour organisations at the time were fighting with their backs to the wall against the effects of the great economic crisis which engulfed the whole of the Western world and indeed did not spare the victorious nations of the war. The split of the movement from one which originally encompassed the whole of the unifying socialist ideology into two different wings, a social-democratic one and a communist one, and the foundation of the Soviet Union meant a continuing schism in the International Labour Movement.The lack of unity had fatal consequences, for from the middle of the Twenties onwards fundamentalist ideas began to spread in some of the heartland's of Europe,which led to the rise of dictatorships of a national socialist, fascist and falangist line.At the beginning of the Thirties these regimes began systematically to destroy the large national ITS membership bodies in Italy,Germany,Austria, Czechoslovakia and Spain.
The outbreak of World War II in 1939 brought the work of the international labour organisations to a standstill,particurly since the German occupation power dissolved and destroyed the offices of some of the Secretariats.A number of offices had to close for the duration of the war,others operated on a limited basis in neutral countries or in England.
After the end of the war there was a mood of resurgence to rebuild the united International Trade Union Movement.It was not least the great influence of the Soviet Union which at that time took effect: as a part of the Allied Armed Forces it had made an important contribution to the defeat of fascism and "nazism".Thus in 1945 the ICTU was dissolved and the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) was founded.In this the American AFL-CIO,the British TUC and the Soviet top organisation AUCCTU were among the important founders.However, the conflicting opinions about the role of trade unions in society proved to be an unsurmountable obstacle to co-operation between these important partners in the united organisation. From the beginning the question of the role and function of the ITSs was at the centre of this controversies.
The Soviet communist wing of the WFTU rejected independent ITSs and demanded complete integration. The attempt for the Soviet membership body to dominate the WFTU led to tension and internal controversies.Different opinions about the need of the Marshall Plan brought matters to a head.Most of the national trade unions centre left the WFTU in 1949 and founded the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).Since then the vast majority of the ITSs have co-operated with this body.
Perhaps it was the growing success of the ITS's which prompted President Jansen of the Danish trade union centre, to launch a further attempt to bring together the national trade union centres. At Copenhagen in August 1901 delegates from Great Britain, France, Germany,Finland,Belgium,Denmark,Norway and Sweden agreed to hold annual conferences which would seek agreement on labour questions,mutual aid and international organisation.There were further international conferences in 1902 at Stuttgart,1903 in Dublin and then biennially until 1913 in different countries in Europe with an ever-widening agenda covering international labour matters.In 1913 at Zurich the name International Federation of Trade Unions(ICFTU) was adopted.The organisation grew from fourteen centres with a membership of approximately 2½ million to nineteen affiliated centres including the American Federation of Labour(AFL), with a total membership of 7.7 million.The outbreak of World War 1 split the organisation and completely disrupted relations between the national centres. The Third International. Following the October 1917 revolution in Russia, there was established a Communist International (the Comintern), often called the Third International, through which the Bolshevik leaders sought to promote revolutionary uprisings in western countries. Active attempts were made in the 1920s to bridge the ideological gap between the IFTU and the Soviet All-Union Central Council of Trade (AUCCTU), but to no avail.
A conference of all former IFTU affiliates met in Amsterdam in 1919 with delegates from fifteen countries including the United States,representing 17½ million trade unionists,drew up a new constitution for the reappearing IFTU.The American Federation of Labour,(AFL), however, was never happy with the new IFTU;Samuel Gompters,the AFL president, maintained that its policies were too steeped with socialist doctrinaire and, despite efforts at conciliation, the AFL decided not to renew its affiliation in 1921.The IFTU, based in Amsterdam, remained firmly rooted in Europe.
An International Organisation. A third international trade union organisation was formed in 1920:This was the International Federation of Christian Trade Unions (IFCTU), covering Belgium,France,the Netherlands,Switzerland Until the advent of fascism in Italy and National socialism in Germany,where the Roman Catholic Church,or in some instances a militant protestantism, had succeeded in organising separate Christian trade unions for workers whose religious convictions prevented them from joining socialist trade unions.The Roman Catholic Church opposition to socialism and its views on trade unions, which stressed co-operation rather than confrontation between employers and employees, were defined in the Papal Encyclical Rerum Novarum of 1891.
During World War II, the IFTU and ITS's continued a limited role from temporary headquarters in London, and prepared for an eventual peace.In September 1944 following an Anglo-Soviet Trade Union Committee meeting in London,the British TUC sent out invitations for a world trade union conference to be held in February 1945. This conference aimed to set up an all-embracing World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). A total of 147 delegates from 53 trade union organisations attended.After many trials and tribulations the administrative committees settled all the major differences with the exemption of one, the relationship between the new WFTU and the International Trade Secretariats (ITS´s). This point was left open for consideration at a later meeting. It was decided to hold a second Congress in September of that year in Paris to finalise and adopt a constitution, to appoint a general secretary and a governing body and to set up headquarters.In October 1945,therefore, largely through the initiative of British TUC the WFTU was established in Paris and the IFTU was dissolved. By 1947 the new organisation claimed an affiliated membership of over 70 million workers from 71 national organisations.
From its first days the main problem for the WFTU was its relationship with the ITS's.It became quite clear , however, that in spite of all the endeavours of the old IFTU leaders and the ITS's to reach a satisfactory working basis, the communist majority in the WFTU aimed to incorporate the ITS's into the WFTU without granting them any special kind of autonomy or independent action within their own field of activities.During 1947-48, relations between the Communist and non-communist elements in the WFTU rapidly detoriated.Most of the countries in Western Europe and the United States had been aware from the outset of the difficulties of associating with Communist-controlled unions.They had hoped, however, that conflicts between ideologies could be avoided and they repeatedly stressed the need for the new organisation to concentrate on trade union, social and economic questions.The launching of the Marshall Plan, designed to allow the re-construction of the war-ravaged countries of Europe,widened the breach even further.The AFL and the CIO of the United States jointly played a major role in all stages of development of this Economic Recovery Programme (ERP), and hence their bitter reaction when representatives of the WFTU Executive described the plan as "a devilish scheme of Wall Street to enslave the free countries of Europe".In the late summer months of 1948 the break up of the WFTU seemed near at hand, but the British TUC decided to make one last effort to save the concept of world-wide trade union solidarity.The TUC proposed that in order to restore goodwill and let the various organisations of world trade unionism take stock of the situation before irrevocable damage was done the WFTU should go into suspension for a year.During this time a small committee would be established to keep the funds in order and prepare the basis on which the following year the WFTU could again start to function properly. The Communist majority on the WFTU Executive Board rejected the suggestion and immediately many non-communist members announced that they no longer considered their organisations affiliated to the WFTU.
Was formed in 1949 by Western Unions, which broke away from the WFTU although some of its associated international trade secretariats are of older origin. The leading organisations involved were the U S American-Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations, the British TUC, and the Dutch Nederlands Verbond van Vakverenigingen which in a manifesto stated that the WFTU was dominated by communist organisations, which are themselves controlled by the KREMLIN and the COMINFORM. The thorny problem of the relationship with the ITS's had been successfully resolved with provisions made for joint activities over a wide field without in any way limiting the autonomy of the Secretariats.
Was set up in 1919 to bring governements,employers and trade unions together for united action in the case of social justice and better living conditions everywhere.It is a tripartite organisation, with worker and employer representatives taking part in its work on equal status with those of the governments. Towards the end of the First World War a new opportunity for positive action arose.At the request of trade unions in several countries, the Peace Conference of 1919 set up a Commission on International Labour Legislation.After ten weeks of work the Labour Commission agreed on a document elaborated from a British draft,which on 11 April 1919 became PartXIII of the Treaty of Versailles.With amendments, it remains to this day the charter under which the ILO works.At Philadelphia in 1944 the International Labour Conference adopted a Declaration, now an annex to the Constitution,which embodies an even more dynamic concept.It proclaims the right of all human beings "to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity."It further states that "poverty anywhere constitutes a danger to prosperity everywhere." The first International Labour Conference was held in Washington in October 1919.Its first Director was Albert Thomas of France. Between the two World Wars the ILO was an autonomous part of the League of Nations.During the Second World War the ILO moved its headquarters temporarily to Montreal, Canada.In 1946, the ILO became the first specialised agency associated with the United Nations. The ILO has 170 member States compared with 42 in 1919 and 58 in 1948.1994 ILO marks its 75th anniversary.
Founded originally in 1948 as a trade union committee in connection with the Marshall Plan, is a non-governmental organisation enjoying a recognised consultative status with the OECD. Since 1971, it has been composed of national trade union centres in OECD countries;centres that either belong to the ICFTU or the WCL or are independent. Membership is ca. 68 million.51 national organisations in the 29 OECD member countries are affiliated.In addition to national centres, international organisations (ICFTU, WCL, ETUC, Council of Nordic Trade Unions) and International Trade Secretariats belonging either to the ICFTU or WCL family participate in the work of TUAC. The TUAC Office consists of the General Secretary, two Senior Policy Advisors, an Administrative Assistant, and two Secretaries.
The Council of Nordic Trade Unions (NFS) is a co-ordinating organisation for trade unions in the Nordic countries. Nordic trade unions have a long tradition of co-operation, starting already in the 19th century. The trade union pioneers in the Nordic countries supported each other in their early attempts to build trade union organisations. NFS was established in 1972 and its member organisations consist of the national trade union centres in Denmark, Finland Iceland Norway and Sweden.
ICFTU established in 1950 the European Regional Organisation (ERO) which existed until 1969.In 1952 a Committee of Twenty-One was set up by the ICFTU-affiliated unions in response to the foundation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). This committee was organised internationally both by industry, on the pattern of the International Trade Secretariats (ITS´s) and by linking trade union national centres. It was composed of representatives of the ITS´s in the Metal and Mining Industries and from countries covered by the ECSC, one member of each ICFTU-affiliated national trade union federation and one member of each ICFTU-affiliated metal and mining union. The objectives of the Committee were to represent and co-ordinate the interests of union organisations in member countries of the ECSC, but the different component organisations remained autonomous and decisions within the Committee were taken by unanimous vote.In 1958, after the signing of the Treaty of Rome and the creation of a European community to promote the development of the European Economic Community (EEC), the IFCTU-affiliated European unions established a European Trade Union Secretariat (ETUS).It was independent and the Committee of Twenty-One was absorbed into it. The creation of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) by seven countries which were not members of the EEC led the ICFTU-affiliated unions in these countries to form a similar secretariat a decade later.The Christian trade unions set up a European organisation, later called World Confederation of Labour-European Organisation (WCL-EO) in 1958. The two major communist controlled unions in EEC countries, the Italian CGIL and the French CGT, formed their own Comité Permanent in 1966,but this was not recognised by the EEC until 1969. ETUC is the voice of organised labour in Europe and by far the most representative all-industry trade union federation within the European union.The ETUC's the only general trade union organisation recognised as social partner by the European Commission. The ETUC affiliates most of the national trade union centres of the European Communities, as well as centres from Malta Cyprus and Turkey.New members are also the former Soviet bloc countries such as Bulgaria,Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary, Poland and Rumania. Swedish members are LO and TCO. Currently ETUC represents 58 national trade union centres from 28 countries and 14 European industry federations totalling more than 53 million members. In 1969 the ETUS adopted a new name, a revised set of rules, and a new governing structure.It became the European Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ECFTU). In 1973 it became the European Trade Union Confederation In May 1974 the twelve Christian national centres were accepted as affiliated members, and the WCL-EO dissolved itself.
As mentioned before the trade union movement started in Britain nearly 200 years ago.From the very beginning it was only the artisans and the skilled workers that took part in the trade union movement. Unionism on the Continent shares some features with unionism in Great Britain:early persecution by government and courts,reliance upon government intervention and mediation in industrial disputes. It was until around 1890 before the unskilled workers began organising themselves in so called general unions or perhaps amalgamations is a better name for them. Around 1830-1870 that trade union movement started on the European continent but in the Scandinavian countries it took until the turn of the century before one can say that the trade union movement had started.By that time there were trade unions in almost all the countries in Europe.In most countries there were several national centres, except for Great Britain, which has a sole centre - TUC. The reason for this was above all political and religious The movement was from the beginning socialistic -inspired which both the Roman Catholic church and the anarchists opposed.From different point of views of course. The Christian trade unionists had the same goal as the revolutionary and reformist movement but they chose another way, through 'social Catholicism', because they believed that the employer would apply the 'principles of justice and Christian charity', and the anarchists looked upon the general strike as a supreme weapon for altering the capitalistic system.The reformats and social democrats sought step- by- step improvements of the workers´conditions, and saw trade unionism not solely as an instrument of struggle,but as an organisation which would survive even after social justice was won. The unionisation-rate from 1990 shows perhaps which was the right path to choose:the French way, anarchistic or communist and with at least five different national trade union centres;or perhaps is the British way the best one, with just one national trade union centre;or the Benelux-model with trade union centres according to religion and directly connected to political parties and lingual-groups?
Perhaps the Scandinavian countries with Sweden in the foremost position, represent the best alternative, at least according to the unionisation-rate which is estimated to be 85% of the work-force, compared to France´s 10%?In Sweden there are three different national trade union centres:one for the manual workers,LO, TCO, which organises Professional Employees, and finally there is SACO, the organisation that organise the Professional Associations.
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The European Trade Union Confederation,ETUC.
The World Confederation of Labour,WCL.
FIET 90 1904-1994
ABVV/FGTB a Belgian trade union
CSC-AVC a Belgian trade union
General Confederation of Liberal Trade Unions in Belgium
The Swedish Union of Commercial Employees,Handels.
The Union of Shop,Distributive and Allied Workers,USDAW.
The Origins of Trade Unions in Sweden,Swedish Trade Union Confederation,LO.
ICFTU,International Confederation of Free Trade Unions:http://www.icftu.be/
TUC, Trade Union Congress: http://www.tuc.org.uk/
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