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 18 Issue 2, May 2012

We could begin by asserting that trade unionism dates back a long time, even though its future appears so uncertain now, at the start of the 21st century and the end of the ‘industrial century’. This future will in any event be much more heavily influenced by the origins and cultures of the trade union movement than is commonly believed. An informal kind of ‘institutional path’ along which unions must travel in order to get through the most disruptive economic, social and political changes is coming to light. Their differences from political movements, and not only those on the left, are noteworthy. We would learn very little about the current tendencies of Europe’s political parties by observing their origins, precisely because they were unwanted children or children who cast off their parents. This is true of the Labour Party (above all in its New Labour configuration), but also of the glorious and mighty SPD, the perfect incarnation of a large-scale, well-organized political party.

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