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Trade Unions in Western EuropeHard Times, Hard Choices$
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Rebecca Gumbrell-McCormick and Richard Hyman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199644414

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199644414.001.0001

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Beyond National Boundaries: Unions, Europe, and the World

Beyond National Boundaries: Unions, Europe, and the World

(p.158) 7 Beyond National Boundaries: Unions, Europe, and the World
Trade Unions in Western Europe

Rebecca Gumbrell-McCormick

Richard Hyman

Oxford University Press

National trade unions have long recognised the need to act beyond national boundaries, and most appreciate the growing urgency of effective international organization. This chapter presents an overview of the different levels of at which unions can engage internationally: global, European, sectoral, company, describing the institutional framework of trade union internationalism at all these levels. It also explores similarities and differences in the approaches to international work in our ten countries, and identifies a growing concentration on European-level and sectoral-based international work. The chapter argues that there is a fundamental tension in international trade union policy: is this a specialist issue which should be left to ‘international experts’, or a mainstream concern for all members and activists? This dilemma forms part of a broader tension between the needs for effective strategy and for vigorous internal democracy.

Keywords:   international, global, European, European Works Councils, Global Framework Agreements, international solidarity, trade union internationalism

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