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Radical Unions in Europe and the Future of Collective Interest Representation


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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Radical Unionism in Italy - Back to the Future: Fiom and Chainworkers



Radical Unionism in Italy – Back to the Future: Fiom and Chainworkers

In the Italian context of industrial relations, radical unionism can be identified with various different union types. Until recently, these forms of unionism would have shared the common characteristics of being different from/other than the Trade Union Confederations to which most of the mainstream industrial relations literature usually refers, in particular the three major ones: Cgil (Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro); Cisl (Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Lavoratori); and Uil (Unione Italiana del Lavoro). A straightforward classification of radical unions would then include the names of rank-and-file organisations (sindacati di base), or ‘autonomous’ unions, such as: CUB (Confederazione Unitaria di Base), established in 1992 as expression of a strong opposition to the concertation agreements signed in those years by the Trade Union Confederations, one of the biggest with more than 500,000 members overall; Cobas (Confederazione dei Comitati di Base), established first in the education sector and then grown further to include various workers’ group in different sectors, both private and public; USI-AIT, Unione Sindacale Italiana – Associazione Internazionale dei Lavoratori, a historical anarchic union established in 1912, still present at local level in some public sector organisations, such as hospitals; OrSA, Organizzazione Sindacati Autonomi, particularly active in parts of the transport sector, but present in other private and public organisations; and USB, Unione Sindacale di Base, the result of a merger in 2012 of RdB, Rappresentanze di Base and SdL,...

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