Trade Unions in Western Europe: Hard Times, Hard Choices

Hardcover | October 15, 2013

byRebecca Gumbrell-McCormick, Richard Hyman

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Trade unions in most of Europe are on the defensive: in recent decades they have lost membership, sometimes drastically; their collective bargaining power has declined, as has their influence on government; and in many countries, their public respect is much diminished. This book explores the challenges facing trade unions and their responses in ten west European countries: Britain, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Italy. Based on a substantial number of interviews with key union representatives and academic expertsin each country, together with the collection of a large amount of union documentation and background material, the book gives an account of how trade unionism has evolved in each country, the main recent challenges that unions have faced, and their responses. The book engages with the debates ofthe past two decades on union modernization and revitalization, and more generally with theories of institutional change and the literature on varieties of capitalism. Some observers ask whether unions remain relevant socio-economic actors, but challenging times can stimulate new thinking, and hence provide new opportunities. This book aims to show why trade unions are (still) important subjects for scientific analysis: first, as a means of collective "voice"allowing employees to challenge management control and bringing a measure of balance to the employment relationship; second, as a form of "countervailing power" to the socio-economic dominance of capital; and third, their potential as a 'sword of justice' to defend the weak, vulnerable anddisadvantaged, express a set of values in opposition to the dominant political economy, and offer aspirations for a different - and better - form of society.

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Trade unions in most of Europe are on the defensive: in recent decades they have lost membership, sometimes drastically; their collective bargaining power has declined, as has their influence on government; and in many countries, their public respect is much diminished. This book explores the challenges facing trade unions and their re...

Rebecca Gumbrell-McCormick is a former international trade union official. Since obtaining her PhD at the University of Warwick she has been teaching at Birkbeck College. She is one of the world authorities on international trade unionism, and her work has been cited by scholars and practitioners in many countries. She is Board Member...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.98 inPublished:October 15, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199644411

ISBN - 13:9780199644414

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Table of Contents

1. Mapping the Terrain: Varieties of Industrial Relations and Trade Unionism2. Hard Times: Challenges and Responses3. Renewing Power Resources: Recruitment, Representation and Mobilization4. Restructuring Trade Unionism: Mergers and Organizational Redesign5. Bargaining in Adversity: Decentralization, Social Partnership and the Crisis6. Unions and Politics: Parties, Alliances and the Battle of Ideas7. Beyond National Boundaries: Unions, Europe and the World8. Hard Choices: Reconciling Strategy and Democracy