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Radical Unions in Europe and the Future of Collective Interest Representation


Edited By Heather Connolly, Lefteris Kretsos and Craig Phelan

This book analyses contemporary trends in radical unionism in Europe. It contains nine country case-studies that probe the limits and possibilities of trade union renewal with a focus on radical activity. The editors follow a broad definition of radical unionism, including trade union organisations that can be characterised as radical either in terms of ideology and political identity or in terms of organising and mobilising activity. The ongoing economic crisis and consequent austerity measures, and employers’ strategies for increasing labour market flexibility have encouraged the deregulation of capitalism in Europe. The question this book asks is whether radicalised unionism, political action and grassroots activism present opportunities for union renewal and collective interest representation in this economic context. This question is examined in nine national contexts with diverse industrial relations frameworks and trade unions. The editors assess the degree to which we are witnessing the emergence of ‘radical political unionism’ as an alternative model of trade unionism in Europe, focused on class struggle, engagement in social movement activity beyond the workplace, and politicised union strategies aligned to new left-wing political formations.


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Craig Phelan The Future of European Unions: Radical Prospects? 1 Martin Upchurch, Andy Mathers and Graham Taylor Towards Radical Political Unionism? 29 Heather Connolly Trade Union Radicalism in France: The Renewal of Radicalism in the Context of Crisis and Austerity? 49 Ralph Darlington Britain: Striking Unionism With a Political Cutting Edge 69 Paul Stewart The Independent Workers’ Union: Class, Nation and Oppositional Labour Movements in Ireland from 1900 to the Celtic Tiger 89 Carlos J. Fernández Rodríguez, Rafael Ibáñez Rojo, and Miguel Martínez Lucio Radical Trade Unionism in Spain: The Re-Invention and Re-Imagination of Autonomy and Democracy Within and Around the Union Movement During the Past Century 111 vi Elanor Colleoni, Stefania Marino, and Manuela Galetto Radical Unionism in Italy – Back to the Future: Fiom and Chainworkers 137 Lefteris Kretsos The Wind of Austerity in the Sails of Radicalism: The Greek Example 157 Alan Stoleroff Radical Trade Unionism in Portugal: Between Maximalist Vanguardism and Ongoing Radicalisation 183 Adam Mrozowicki and Piotr Antoniewicz Radical Trade Unions in Poland: The Meanings and Mechanisms of Union Radicalisation in a Post-Socialist Capitalism 209 László Neumann Hungarian Unions: Toward Assuming Political Roles 231 Notes on Contributors 257 Index 259

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