‘International Trade Union Solidarity and the Impact of the Crisis’, Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies’, January 2015.
In this paper we first explore the diverse meaning(s) of solidarity, particularly with regard to trade unions. In particular we focus on understandings which focus on a shared identity, on common interests and on mutuality despite difference. We relate these different conceptions to the problematic concept of class. We then discuss the forms which international trade union solidarity takes and the difficulties which it encounters, at global and European levels. There is always a tension between long-term idealism and short-term pragmatism, which means that the achievement of solidarity is always incomplete. Solidarity is never ‘natural’, it must always be constructed against the odds. We go on to examine the impact of the financial and economic crisis at European level, which has accentuated some of the tensions in achieving solidarity within and between countries. We end with a discussion of how solidarity might be reconstructed under particularly adverse circumstances.
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