Radical Trade Unionism in Portugal: Between Maximalist Vanguardism and Ongoing Radicalization
Radical Trade Unionism in Portugal: Between Maximalist Vanguardism and Ongoing Radicalisation
This chapter will argue, on the one hand, that a mitigated anti-capitalist radicalism has persisted as an overriding tendency within the Portuguese trade union movement since the revolutionary period of 1974–1975 and throughout subsequent democratisation. This has been due, in large part, to the predominance of Communist leadership in the majority labour confederation, that is, the General Confederation of Portuguese Workers (CGTP-IN). Moreover, this orientation has been subject to intermittent processes of radicalisation in its demands and tactics in reaction to changing political and economic contexts. Most recently, the so-called ‘neo-liberal’ offensive to restructure the labour market and redefine institutionalised labour relations and the crisis politics of austerity have stimulated a new radicalisation in the politics of the majority confederation and exacerbated the division within the labour movement between this current and the ‘neo-corporatist’ leadership of the minority confederation. Nevertheless this mitigated radicalism is challenged by an unmitigated radicalism that is still relatively confined to a few niches of the trade union movement and that have not gained much attention in industrial relations research since it has not acquired sufficient critical mass to merit attention.
The chapter will argue, furthermore, that in a crisis situation, outbursts of radical action do not require ideologically self-conscious radical trade unionism. The desperation and indignation resulting from the breakdown of the economy and the threat of job loss or the non-payment of wages can...
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