The European Review of Labour and Research (Transfer) has commissioned two issues that will explore the circumstances of contemporary trade unionism in Europe. The first and current issue looks into the notion of union renewal and explores a range of approaches to renewal and organising, with case studies drawn from four European countries (Germany, Poland, France and Spain).
Since around 1980 trade union membership has declined in most countries, a reality which leads us to question to what extent trade unions represent working people today. Furthermore, the greater diversity and fragmentation of the labour force calls for different approaches to representation and bargaining. Although trade unions have not been standing still and have experimented with a range of ‘renewal’ initiatives, many challenges remain and need to be addressed.
In this issue of Transfer there are three substantive articles that review the debates on union renewal (the article by Gregor Murray is freely available for download until 13 March), the challenge of organising migrant and precarious workers, and the different national relationships that exist between union density, collective bargaining and the extent to which unions are embedded within regulatory institutions.