jueves, 22 de abril de 2010
Trade Unions have their inception during the industrial revolution, when labor negotiations were usually in favor of employers, who most of the times mistreated employees and pay them low wages. Nevertheless, since WWII there has been a tendency of European states to benefits their populations with a series of policies that look for their well-being. Those attempts from the European states have contributed to ease troubled relations between employers and employees. The last fact has driven to a situation where trade unions are starting to care about other more structural social problems (not just wage or labor hours bargaining) in Europe and they are having problems when recruiting new members. So many European countries are crossing through a period of “de-unionization” during the last 30 years. Among the causes of the last phenomenon we find: the de-industrialization, the growth of flexible employment and some changes in normative orientation from collectivism towards individualism (Towers & Terry)
In the Nordic countries and Belgium, though there has been some de-unionization process, trade unions still has a relevant role and as it is mentioned in (Towers & Terry), they played a fundamental role withstanding the socioeconomic changes and labor flexibility pressures of the 80´s and 90´s
In Italy and Germany, trade unions are still important as well, basically in institutionalized partnership relations. In Germany, for example, it is so common that managers consult some companies´ decisions with trade unions.
Finally, Portugal, Spain and France have low trade unions rates. What is paradoxical about the last situation is that labor journey in France, for example, is too short and there is a good labor environment for employees in general, despite the low trade unions rates.
To make a comparison between the role of trade unions in Europe and their role in Colombia is quite difficult because as it can be noticed from the last lines, there is not a single role for all European trade unions. However, in general terms we can say that trade unions in Colombia have a more troubled relations with employers (and the government) because they are not realists, and to fulfill their demands would mean destroy the local economy regarding the debate of the minimum wage, for example. It may sound so radical but I think that trade unions do not have a structural vision of the economy and they just look for their interests
• Piette, Jean-Jacques. 2004. “Understanding management German style”. Les Amis de L’ecole de Paris.
• Towers, B., & Terry, M. European Industrial Relations. Blackwell Publishing.
• Trade Unions across Europe. (n.d.). Retrieved April 22, 2010, from Federation of European employers: http://www.fedee.com/tradeunions.html