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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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Portuguese Trade Unionism: Dilemmas and Prospects 213


ALAN STOLEROFF Portuguese Trade Unionism: Dilemmas and Prospects 1. Introduction As with so many of the world’s labour movements, the last four decades have produced important changes in the political, economic and societal role and influence of Portuguese trade unionism (Stoleroff 2000). In the Portuguese case however this evolution has brought about qualitative transformations that can be traced from the ascension of trade unionism throughout the struggle against the dictatorship and the subsequent phases of revolution and democratic consolidation to decline throughout the phases of economic crisis, European integra- tion, economic restructuring and the present austerity. Portuguese trade unions today continue to play an important role at the peak association level of concertation, as for example in the crucial but difficult consultations for the reform of the social security system, but are struggling to maintain their role within collective bargaining and workplace labour relations. Portuguese trade unionism has thus proceeded through various stages in this span of almost four decades: from a united movement of representative unions emergent as a major component of the demo- cratic opposition under the corporatist dictatorship (late 1960s–1974), to an organised component of a broader movement of class mobil- isation during the revolutionary crisis and its aftermath (1974–7), to an ideologically divided and politicised labour movement throughout post-revolutionary democratic consolidation (1978–90), to an institu- tionalised representative of class intermediation with leftover elements of a social and class movement (1990s to present). Throughout this evolution the trade unions have suffered from a general,...

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