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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 B Profiles and structural developments oftransnational trade union federations 109


Section B Profiles and structural developments of transnational trade union federations B1 – Global Union Federations Chapter 5 International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) Historical development The IMF is the oldest and largest of the Global Union Federations (GUF) still in existence, with more than 200 af filiated trade unions in 100 coun- tries and a combined individual membership of 25 million employees. Its head of fice is in Geneva, with a network of regional of fices in South Africa, India, Malaysia and Chile, and a project of fice in Moscow. The IMF was founded in Zurich in August 1893 with the aim of establishing an inter- national information bureau.1 It acquired its present name at the Fourth Congress in Amsterdam in 1904.2 One distinguishing feature of the IMF is that it has always been organized along industrial lines, encompassing a range of occupations. And in contrast to most other GUFs, it has never merged with other international union bodies, aside from two federations that joined in 1904, the International Secretariat of Foundry Workers and the International Secretariat of Enginemen’s and Firemen’s Unions (Rütters et al., 2001: 90). 1 The thirty delegates at the founding congress were from Switzerland (eighteen), Austria-Hungary (four), Germany (three), Belgium (two), France (one), Great Britain (one) and the United States (one). 2 In 1971 the German name of the federation was changed to the ‘International Metal Trade Union Federation’ (Internationaler Metallgewerkschaftsbund) as the German term for ‘worker’ implies manual workers alone: the change was made to emphasize...

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