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Global and European Trade Union Federations

A Handbook and Analysis of Transnational Trade Union Organizations and Policies- Translated by Pete Burgess


Hans-Wolfgang Platzer and Torsten Müller

The continuing advance of globalization, together with deepening European integration, has increased the significance of the transnational level of trade union organization and action. This study offers a comprehensive overview of the development, structure, and policies of global and European trade union federations to serve as a reference work on all the key trade union movements operating globally and in Europe. It presents an in-depth analysis of the challenges facing these organizations and their strategic and policy responses.
As a handbook, this volume provides extensive and systematically presented data on transnational sectoral trade union federations. Applying an analogous structure in the presentation of both global and European levels, the study features extensive organizational profiles, portraits, and overviews. This empirical material serves to reveal recent innovations in cross-border policy instruments and strategic approaches since the 1990s. The changing profiles of international trade unions – as measured against a set of functional criteria drawn from political science – and key developments in transnational trade union activity since the start of the new century are also investigated.


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Section A Political, historical and research context: Aims and approach of the research 1


Section A Political, historical and research context: Aims and approach of the research Chapter 1 Introduction This study is concerned with branch-level transnational trade unions at both global and European level. At the global level, these are now referred to as Global Union Federations (GUFs), but from their inception in the late nineteenth century and until the beginning of the twenty-first century they were known as International Trade Secretariats (ITS). At European level, branch-level trade union federations are now known as European Industry Federations (EIFs). The research mainly deals with the period from the 1990s until the present, and aims to provide a broad and systematic presentation of the organization, strategies, and policies of transnational branch-level union federations.1 This will involve two steps. In the first, we set out organizational pro- files of individual trade union federations, outlining and analysing their key features and distinctive characteristics, current structures, and policies. The second stage involves an analysis of their main areas of activity and the development of their functional characteristics over time, in particular focusing on instruments and arenas of transnational trade union activity that have emerged or undergone major change in the period covered by our study. Our conceptual framework and research strategy, explained in Chapter 2, includes a number of analytical tools intended to facilitate a consistent approach to the large number of organizations in the study. At the core of the study is the question as to whether and to what extent the issues, tasks, and the forms...

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