A trade union that organizes workers across occupational and industrial boundaries and which, as a consequence, has a highly diverse membership. General unions emerged in the UK in the late nineteenth century amongst unskilled and semi-skilled transport, factory, and utility workers. Since then, general unionism has become the dominant form, not just in the UK, but in other countries as well, such as Germany, the Netherlands, and the USA. The largest unions in the UK, UNISON, Unite, and GMB, are all general unions. Because of their diverse membership, general unions tend to be divided internally into a number of ‘trade groups’ based on the main industrial concentrations of membership. General unions organize may low-skilled workers with limited bargaining power so they may attach particular importance to political action in order to secure protective legislation.
Subjects: Human Resource Management.