Trade Unions’ Strategies in the Context of European Integration: The Case of the Greek Metal Sector
Trade Unions’ strategies in the context of European Integration are a highly debatable issue. Trade Union Revitalisation Theory has been a fruitful approach. Current bibliography tends to categorise unions’ strategies in bipolar groupings: militant versus moderate model (Kelly: 1996), partnership vs confrontational model (Mc Shane: 1999), adversarial vs co-operational tactics (Edwards, Belanger and Wright: 2006). Based on the following key-indicators - organisational logic, political action, goals and grievances, militancy, coalitions, restructuring logic, internationalism, europeanisation- I have outlined a theoretical model for contemporary Trade Unions’ Strategies. I have also tried to apply this model on the case of a secondary Union, the Pan-Hellenic Federation of Metalworkers (POEM). I have chosen POEM based on the following factors: a) Metal industry is still a traditional core industry, b) POEM is a significant power within the Greek trade union movement (with more than 30.000 members), c) the metal sector is characterised by multiple labour relations’ patterns (full employment, atypical employment, flexible patterns) and variety in employers’ forms (public schemes, private schemes, quasi-public schemes, etc), d) unionism in Metal sector presents acrimonious ideological disputes. Finally, POEM is a good example of the contradictions that intersect the Greek labour movement. Some scholars have argued that recently the Greek trade union leadership returned to a confrontational approach after a decade of moderate tactics. I will try to show that this was not the case. Based on an empirical material that consists of records of congresses, programmes, actions, Collective Agreements, documents etc, and having compared them to the general trajectory of the General Confederation of Greek Labourers (GSEE), I argue that neither POEM has a contentious strategy, nor GSEE changed its consensual strategy, despite the turbulences of the period 2000-2004.
Keywords: Trade Union Strategies, Revitalisation Theory, Europeanisation
Research Fellow, "Pythagoras II" Research Project, University of Athens