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Trade Union Revitalisation

Trends and Prospects in 34 Countries

Edited By Craig Phelan

Although trade unionism has been declining in virtually every part of the world, its continued demise is not a foregone conclusion. As it has throughout its history, trade unionism has demonstrated a capacity to adapt, to make its voice heard, to reassert its power. The scale and scope of experimentation taking place in the labour movement today is testimony not just to the depth of the crisis but also to the possibility of resurgence in the years ahead. This book is an essential resource for anyone wishing to know about contemporary labour issues. It offers a comprehensive introduction to the state of trade unionism in the world today, and the often innovative strategies and tactics trade unionists are using to revive their organisations in each of the major nations of the world. Leading labour scholars discuss, in clear prose, the health of the trade union movement, the present political and economic climate for trade union advancement, the dominant revitalisation strategies, and future prospects in each nation. Each chapter includes an up-to-date guide to further reading.


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Trade Unionism in Mexico:Current Situation and Obstacles to Renewal 75


GRACIELA BENSUSÁN 1 Trade Unionism in Mexico: Current Situation and Obstacles to Renewal 1. Introduction The current condition of Mexican trade unionism is the result of two processes. The first is related to its formative period and the manner in which trade unionism in Mexico became a pillar of the old post- revolutionary political system. From this development trade unions derived their historic strength as well as their principal characteristics. For more than six decades, trade unionism in Mexico pursed a cor- poratist relation to the State which allowed it to not only establish a strong presence in the most dynamic sectors of an industrialising economy and to obtain benefits for its rank and file, but also to oppose any establishment of a more independently oriented trade unionism. The second process is the destructive impact of a dual transition – economic and political – that has emerged during the past two decades. This transition has radically transformed the context in which the old corporatist trade unionism operated. As a result, unions have been forced to redefine themselves, to reassess their power resources and their strategies or to succumb to the new export-oriented eco- nomic model which gives unions little room to manoeuvre. The changing economic and political context has generated severe obstacles. In many ways, the difficulty in dealing with these issues explains the current predicament in which many unions find themselves. The weakening of traditional corporatist trade unionism as well as the growth of a heterogeneous union structure not directly...

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