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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 Unions in the Czech Republic 335


MARTIN MYANT Trade Unions in the Czech Republic 1. Strengths and Weaknesses The bulk of Czech trade union members in 2006 were organised within two confederations, the Czech-Moravia Confederation of Trade Unions (eskomoravská konfederace odborovch svaz, MKOS), with 33 affiliated organisations, and the Association of Independent Trade Unions (Asociace samostatnch odbor, ASO), with 15 af- filiates. The former developed from the transformation of the official unions of the communist period, inheriting substantial property and a mass membership base. It aimed to follow the examples of some western European unions, focusing on collective bargaining in workplaces, national representation through tripartite structures and avoiding exclusive links to any political party. The ASO was formed in 1995, growing by affiliation of unions dissatisfied in very diverse ways with the dominant confederation. There are also a number of smaller, independent unions representing specific groups of em- ployees. Membership declined rapidly after 1989. Figures for the MKOS reveal a fall from 4.3 million in 1990 to 1.7 million in mid 1997 and 610,000 in 2006. ASO membership was probably under 200,000. Union density therefore fell from 80 to 33 per cent of the labour force by 1997 and then to under 20 per cent by 2006. Overall, Czech unions fell from a position close to the highest in western Europe to one significantly below the average. Bargaining coverage shows a less dramatic decline. Estimates from MKOS-affiliated unions suggest a drop from 37 per cent of the economically active to 33 per cent between...

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