Friday, 14 October 2011

European strike rates: ‘Strikes have to be won again’


Some analysts argue that unions should make more use of strikes if they want to regain power. If this is the case, European unions are moving in the wrong direction. Kurt Vandaele of the ETUI, the research institute of the European Trade Union Confederation, has collected data on days not worked rates in fifteen European countries in the 1990s and the 2000s. All but a few of the countries had fewer strike days in the past decade than in the 1990s.
Currently, austerity measures are causing a rise in public sector strikes, but Vandaele is not convinced these will help the union movement. “An increase in public sector strikes, commonly defensive in nature, seeking to maintain existing employment regulation, will probably neither change the continued proliferation of neoliberal policies nor stimulate trade union revitalisation. To achieve that, tactical alliances with social movements and coalitions between public sector unions and trade unions in the private (services) sector will probably be needed and, above all, strikes have to be won again, pushing forward an ‘offensive union agenda’ and a ‘new vision’ of (capitalist) society.”
Source: Kurt Vandaele / ETUI. Click on map for country data

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