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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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The Resilience of Traditional Trade Union Practices in theRevitalisation of the Argentine Labour Movement 105

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MAURIZIO ATZENI and PABLO GHIGLIANI The Resilience of Traditional Trade Union Practices in the Revitalisation of the Argentine Labour Movement 1. Introduction Market reforms have posed similar challenges to trade unions world- wide. In this regard, the current situation in Argentina does not differ from the global trend. De-industrialisation, de-centralisation of col- lective bargaining, reduction of the formal sector, flexibility in the labour market and the use of labour power have all affected trade unions’ capacity to mobilise workers and play a major progressive role in society. In addition, particularly over the last decade, the effects of thirty years of economic liberalisation combined with an explosion in the rate of unemployment has led to mass poverty and enormous class divisions, changing the landscape of social mobilisation in Argentina. On the one hand, mass unemployment disciplined wage-labourers; on the other, new territorial organisations, mainly of those workers now unemployed – the so-called piqueteros (for picket) – have proliferated and sustained the virulent social protests for employment and social programmes which characterised the country at the turn of the century. In this context, scholars have tended to assume the definitive demise of trade unions and their methods of struggle, turning their attention to the new social movements. Signs of trade union revitalisation however, composed of both traditional and innovative aspects, have emerged in recent years. This chapter evaluates the old and the new, embedded in the indicators of this incipient revitalisation, bearing in mind that in Argentina today any analysis of the limits and...

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