Embedded internationalisms: building transnational solidarity in the British and Norwegian trade union movements

Cumbers, A. (2004) Embedded internationalisms: building transnational solidarity in the British and Norwegian trade union movements. Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography, 36(5), pp. 829-850. (doi:10.1111/j.1467-8330.2004.00457.x)

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Abstract

There has been growing interest in the prospects for a new trade union internationalism in recent years, following the end of the Cold War and the coming together of the main national union organisations into one confederation, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). For the first time in decades, geopolitical straitjackets and defensive nationalistic postures are giving way to more open, internationalist perspectives as unions attempt to get to grips with global capitalism. However, despite some well-publicised grassroots globalisation campaigns, effective international labour organising and networking remains thin on the ground. One of the reasons for this is that, despite the rhetoric of globalisation and the reality of multi-layered governance, the “national” space remains the critical scale at which unions operate. Variations in both union organisation and the politico-institutional context within which unions operate nationally continue to shape international solidarity activities. This theme is pursued in this paper through the contrasting cases of the UK and Norwegian trade union movements. Although both union movements have been subject to similar problems in recent years, in terms of membership decline and the pressures of increasing global economic integration, the different national political and economic contexts within which unions are embedded have been important in facilitating or constraining international strategies.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Cumbers, Professor Andrew
Authors: Cumbers, A.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0066-4812
ISSN (Online):1467-8330
Published Online:16 November 2001

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