Journal Article

The snakes and ladders of 21st-century trade unionism

C Crouch

in Oxford Review of Economic Policy

Published on behalf of The Oxford Review of Economic Policy Ltd

Volume 16, issue 1, pages 70-83
Published in print March 2000 | ISSN: 0266-903X
Published online March 2000 | e-ISSN: 1460-2121 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxrep/16.1.70
The snakes and ladders of 21st-century trade unionism

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Trade unions in the advanced countries face a difficult future. Their core membership bases in manufacturing industry and public services have become declining sectors of employment. Keynesian demand management, on which they depended for tight labour markets, has collapsed. Most industrial relations activity has shifted to the enterprise level, which they often find difficult to penetrate. Precarious employment, which makes union membership difficult, is growing. On the other hand, certain advantages offset these weaknesses. For a number of different recent economic and political élites often need the support of trade unions for national social pacts. Also, employment conditions continue to create new social problems for working people, which only unions can express. Unions in different countries encounter these combinations of favourable and unfavourable prospects in very different ways, which is likely to produce increasing diversity among the emerging national patterns.

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Subjects: Economic Development and Growth ; Public Economics ; Political Economy ; Public Policy

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