Transfer stimulates dialogue between the European trade union movement and the academic and research community. It contributes research findings on issues of strategic relevance for trade unions, in particular with regard to developments at the European level. Transfer publishes original peer-reviewed research on issues such as new developments in industrial relations, social policy, and labour market developments.
Volume 22 Issue 3, August 2016
Aggregated strike volumes in western Europe, the geographical focus of this special issue, are on average below the peaks reached in the immediate post-war period and again from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s. However, the European strike picture masks significant differentiation across sectors and between countries and, therefore, general observations on strike activity are encumbered with many exceptions. Overall, however, many strike actions and union-led protests have been defensive struggles as they have been called by trade unions to protect collectively agreed or statutory social standards. The national or EU imposed austerity policies, which followed the Great Recession of 2008/2009, triggered a new cycle of social protest which led to political mass strikes, in particular in southern Europe but also in some other countries. This upswing of contestation contributed to more pronounced differences in the days not worked due to industrial action across countries. Indeed, in some countries, strike activity declined even further over time. Still, the tertiarization of industrial conflict, that is, the shift of strike activity from the traditional trade union heartlands in manufacturing industries to the service sector, is further driven by ongoing privatization and liberalization of public employment and deteriorating working conditions. Over the last years, this industrial action in former subsectors of the public sector has especially become prominent in Germany but also in other countries.