Labour movement

The labour movement or labor movement[1] consists of two main wings, the trade union movement (British English) or labor union movement (American English), also called trade unionism or labor unionism on the one hand, and the political labour movement on the other.

  • The trade union movement consists of the collective organisation of working people developed to represent and campaign for better working conditions and treatment from their employers and, by the implementation of labour and employment laws, from their governments. The standard unit of organisation is the trade union.
  • The political labour movement in many countries includes a political party that represents the interests of employees, often known as a "labour party" or "workers' party". Many individuals and political groups otherwise considered to represent ruling classes may be part of and active in the labour movement.

The labour movement developed in response to the depredations of industrial capitalism at about the same time as socialism. However, while the goal of the labour movement is to protect and strengthen the interests of labour within capitalism, the goal of socialism is to replace the capitalist system entirely.[2]

History

In Europe, the labour movement began during the industrial revolution, when agricultural jobs declined and employment moved to more industrial areas. The idea met with great resistance. In the early 19th century, groups such as the Tolpuddle Martyrs of Dorset were punished and transported for forming unions, which was against the laws of the time.

Trade unionism was active during the early to mid 19th century and various labour parties and trade unions were formed throughout the industrialised parts of the world. The International Workingmen's Association, the first attempt at international coordination, was founded in London in 1864. The major issues included the right of the workers to organize themselves, and the right to an 8-hour working day. In 1871 workers in France rebelled and the Paris Commune was formed. From the mid-nineteenth century onward the labour movement became increasingly globalised.

Labour has been central to the modern globalization process. From issues of the embodied movement of workers to the emergence of a global division of labour, and organized responses to capitalist relations of production, the relevance of labour to globalization is not new, and it is far more significant in shaping the world than is usually recognized.[4]

The movement gained major impetus during the late 19th and early 20th centuries from the Catholic Social Teaching tradition which began in 1891 with the publication of Pope Leo XIII's foundational document, Rerum novarum, also known as "On the Condition of the Working Classes," in which he advocated a series of reforms including limits on the length of the work day, a living wage, the elimination of child labour, the rights of labour to organise, and the duty of the state to regulate labour conditions.

Throughout the world, action by labourists has resulted in reforms and workers' rights, such as the two-day weekend, minimum wage, paid holidays, and the achievement of the eight-hour day for many workers. There have been many important labour activists in modern history who have caused changes that were revolutionary at the time and are now regarded as basic. For example, Mary Harris Jones, better known as "Mother Jones", and the National Catholic Welfare Council were important in the campaign to end child labour in the United States during the early 20th century.

Labour parties

Modern labour parties originated from an increase in organising activities in Europe and European colonies during the 19th century, such as the Chartist movement in the United Kingdom during 1838–50.

In 1891, localised labour parties were formed, by trade union members in the British colonies of Australia. They later amalgamated to form the Australian Labor Party (ALP). In 1893, Members of Parliament in the Colony of Queensland briefly formed the world's first labour government.

The British Labour Party was created as the Labour Representation Committee, as a result of an 1899 resolution by the Trade Union Congress.

While archetypal labour parties are made of direct union representatives, in addition to members of geographical branches, some union federations or individual unions have chosen not to be represented within a labour party and/or have ended association with them.

Labour festivals

Labour festivals have long been a part of the labour movement. Often held outdoors in the summer, the music, talks, food, drink, and film have attracted hundreds of thousands of attendees each year.

Labour and racial equality

A degree of strategic bi-racial cooperation existed among black and white dockworkers on the waterfronts of New Orleans, Louisiana during the early 20th century. Although the groups maintained racially separate labour unions, they coordinated efforts to present a united front when making demands of their employers. These pledges included a commitment to the "50-50" or "half-and-half" system wherein a dock crew would consist of 50% black and 50% white workers and agreement on a single wage demand to reduce the risk of ship owners pitting one race against the other. Black and white dockworkers also cooperated during protracted labour strikes, including general levee strikes in 1892 and 1907 as well as smaller strikes involving skilled workers such as screwmen in the early 1900s.

Negroes in the United States read the history of labour and find it mirrors their own experience. We are confronted by powerful forces telling us to rely on the good will and understanding of those who profit by exploiting us [...] They are shocked that action organizations, sit-ins, civil disobedience and protests are becoming our everyday tools, just as strikes, demonstrations and union organization became yours to insure that bargaining power genuinely existed on both sides of the table [...] Our needs are identical to labor's needs: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures [...] That is why the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth.

— Martin Luther King, Jr, "If the Negro Wins, Labor Wins", December 11, 1961[5]

Development of labour movements within nation states

Historically labour markets have often been constrained by national borders that have restricted movement of workers. Labour laws are also primarily determined by individual nations or states within those nations. While there have been some efforts to adopt a set of international labour standards through the International Labour Organisation (ILO), international sanctions for failing to meet such standards are very limited. In many countries labour movements have developed independently and represent those national boundaries.

Development of an international labour movement

With ever-increasing levels of international trade and increasing influence of multinational corporations, there has been debate and action among labourists to attempt international co-operation. This has resulted in renewed efforts to organize and collectively bargain internationally. A number of international union organisations have been established in an attempt to facilitate international collective bargaining, to share information and resources and to advance the interests of workers generally.

List of national labour movements

See also

References

  1. ^ See American and British English spelling differences.
  2. ^ Eatwell & Wright, Roger & Anthony (March 1, 1999). Contemporary Political Ideologies: Second Edition. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 83. ISBN 978-0826451736. If ‘labourism’ sought to protect and defend the interests of labour in relation to this system, ‘socialism’ sought to change the system itself...
  3. ^ Selections from the Letters, Speeches, and State Papers of Abraham BOBBY, by Abraham Lincoln, edited by Ida Minerva Tarbell, Ginn, 1911 / 2008, pg 77
  4. ^ James, Paul; O’Brien, Robert (2007). Globalization and Economy, Vol. 4: Globalizing Labour. London: Sage Publications. pp. ix–x.
  5. ^ A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr, edited by James Melvin Washington, HarperCollins, 1991, ISBN 0-06-064691-8, pg 202-203

Further reading

  • Robert N. Stern, Daniel B. Cornfield, The U.S. labor movement:References and Resources, G.K. Hall & Co 1996
  • John Hinshaw and Paul LeBlanc (ed.), U.S. labor in the twentieth century : studies in working-class struggles and insurgency, Amherst, NY : Humanity Books, 2000
  • James, Paul; O’Brien, Robert (2007). Globalization and Economy, Vol. 4: Globalizing Labour. London: Sage Publications.
  • Philip Yale Nicholson, Labor's story in the United States, Philadelphia, Pa. : Temple Univ. Press 2004 (Series ‘Labor in Crisis’), ISBN 978-1-59213-239-3
  • Beverly Silver: Forces of Labor. Worker's Movements and Globalization since 1870, Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-521-52077-0
  • St. James Press Encyclopedia of Labor History Worldwide, St. James Press 2003 ISBN 1-55862-542-9
  • Lenny Flank (ed), IWW: A Documentary History, Red and Black Publishers, St Petersburg, Florida, 2007. ISBN 978-0-9791813-5-1
  • Tom Zaniello: Working Stiffs, Union Maids, Reds, and Riffraff: An Expanded Guide to Films about Labor (ILR Press books), Cornell University Press, revised and expanded edition 2003, ISBN 0-8014-4009-2
  • Neither Washington Nor Stowe: Common Sense For The Working Vermonter, The Green Mountain Anarchist Collective, Catamount Tavern Press, 2004.
  • Ness, Immanuel (2014). New Forms of Worker Organization: The Syndicalist and Autonomist Restoration of Class-Struggle Unionism. PM Press. ISBN 1604869569.

External links

Anarchism in Brazil

Anarchism was an influential contributor to the social politics of Brazil's Old Republic. During the epoch of mass migrations of European labourers at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, anarchist ideas started to spread, particularly amongst the country’s labour movement. Along with the labour migrants, many Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and German political exiles arrived, many holding anarchist or anarcho-syndicalist ideas.

Some did not come as exiles but rather as a type of political entrepreneur, including Giovanni Rossi, who founded an anarchist commune in 1889, named the colony of Cecília, in the interior of Paraná state. The experiment only lasted a few years, but at one point consisted of 200 participants, mostly Italian migrants with urban labour backgrounds who had difficulties learning to work the land.

Australian Council of Trade Unions

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is the largest peak body representing workers in Australia. It is a national trade union centre of 46 affiliated unions and nine trades and labour councils. The ACTU is a member of the International Trade Union Confederation.

The President of the ACTU is Michele O'Neil, who was elected on 28 July 2018; the current Secretary is Sally McManus.

Australian Labor Party (NSW)

The Australian Labor Party (NSW), commonly known as Lang Labor, was a political group arising from a major breakaway from the Australian Labor Party in New South Wales that operated from 1931 to 1936, when the two groups were reconciled.

Australian Labor Party (South Australian Branch)

The Australian Labor Party (South Australian Branch), commonly known as South Australian Labor, is the South Australian Branch of the Australian Labor Party, originally formed in 1891 as the United Labor Party of South Australia. It is one of two major parties in the bicameral Parliament of South Australia, the other being the Liberal Party of Australia (SA Division).

Since the 1970 election, marking the beginning of democratic proportional representation (one vote, one value) and ending decades of pro-rural electoral malapportionment known as the Playmander, Labor have won 11 of the 15 elections. Spanning 16 years and 4 terms, Labor was last in government from the 2002 election until the 2018 election. Jay Weatherill led the Labor government since a 2011 leadership change from Mike Rann. During 2013 it became the longest-serving state Labor government in South Australian history, and in addition went on to win a fourth four-year term at the 2014 election.

Labor's most notable historic Premiers of South Australia include Thomas Price in the 1900s, Don Dunstan in the 1970s and John Bannon in the 1980s.

Australian Young Labor

Australian Young Labor is the youth wing of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) representing all ALP members aged 14 to 26. Former presidents of AYL have included former NSW Premier Bob Carr, Federal Minister for Agriculture Tony Burke, Special Minister of State Senator John Faulkner, former Australian Workers Union National Secretary and current Member for Maribyrnong and Federal Labor Leader Bill Shorten as well as dozens of State Ministers and MPs. The current National President is Liam O'Regan, from Queensland.

Australian labour movement

The Australian labour movement began in the early 19th century and since the late 19th century has included industrial (Australian unions) and political wings (Australian Labor Party). Trade unions in Australia may be organised (ie., formed) on the basis of craft unionism, general unionism, or industrial unionism. Almost all unions in Australia are affiliated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), many of which have undergone a significant process of amalgamations, especially in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The leadership and membership of unions hold and have at other times held a wide range of political views, including communist, socialist and right-wing views.

According to ABS figures, in August 2013, there were 1.7 million members of trade unions in relation to their main job (17% of all employees). A further 4% did not know whether they were trade union members or not, while 1% were trade union members not in conjunction with their main job. Of those who were a trade union member in relation to their main job, over two thirds (68%) had been members for five years or more. Trade union membership has steadily declined over recent years, with 2013 being the lowest proportion in the history of the ABS series. According to ACTU figures, the number of members of trade unions in 1983 was 2,376,900 but by 2002 it was 1,833,700, and declining.

The Australian Labor Party at both a federal and state/colony level pre-dates, among others, both the British Labour Party and the New Zealand Labour Party in party formation, government, and policy implementation. In particular, the 1910 federal election represented a number of firsts: it was Australia's first elected federal majority government; Australia's first elected Senate majority; the world's first Labour Party majority government at a national level; after the 1904 Chris Watson minority government the world's second Labour Party government at a national level; and the first time it controlled both houses of a bicameral legislature.

Guild socialism

Guild socialism is a political movement advocating workers' control of industry through the medium of trade-related guilds "in an implied contractual relationship with the public". It originated in the United Kingdom and was at its most influential in the first quarter of the 20th century. It was strongly associated with G. D. H. Cole and influenced by the ideas of William Morris.

Industrial Groups

The Industrial Groups were groups formed by the Australian Labor Party (ALP) in the late 1940s, to combat Communist Party influence in the trade unions.In the late 1930s and early 1940s, there was an effort by the Communist Party of Australia to infiltrate trade unions in Australia. In response, the Labor party set up "industrial groups" within trade unions to counter the perceived Communist threat.In 1941, the Italian-Australian political scientist and anti-Communist activist B. A. Santamaria founded the Catholic Social Studies Movement ("The Movement") in Victoria, with the support of Victoria's Roman Catholic Archbishop, Daniel Mannix to impact on the postwar labour movement. "The Movement" quickly gained a large influence in the Industrial Groups. Members of these groups were informally called "Groupers"."The Movement" and the "Groupers" were opposed not only to the Communist Party, but to those elements within the Labor Party whom they reportedly considered to be insufficiently opposed to communism. Alleging that the "Groupers" were exercising disproportionate influence within the ALP, the party leader, H. V. Evatt, turned against them following the 1954 federal election, precipitating the 1955 split in the Labor Party. This resulted in many "Groupers" resigning or being expelled from the ALP, and the disaffiliation of several unions, and the formation of the Australian Labor Party (Anti-Communist), in 1957 becoming the Democratic Labor Party.

Jewish Labour Movement

The Jewish Labour Movement, known as Poale Zion (Great Britain) from 1903 to 2004, is one of the oldest Socialist society affiliated to the Labour Party. It is part of the Poale Zion (Labour Zionist) movement, and as such is also affiliated with the World Labour Zionist Movement (the left-wing faction within the World Zionist Organization), has fraternal ties to the Israeli Labour Party (the Labour Party's sister party in the Socialist International and, from 2013, the Progressive Alliance) and has unofficial ties to the Habonim Dror Labour Zionist youth movement.

It views Zionism as the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. Its aim is to promote "a secure, progressive, just and successful State of Israel". It campaigns against racism generally and seeks to promote a viable peace plan to the Israel-Palestine conflict. With regard to the latter it upholds the rights of the Palestinian people to live at peace with their neighbours on the basis of a two-state solution.

Labor Zionism

Labor Zionism or socialist Zionism (Hebrew: צִיּוֹנוּת סוֹצְיָאלִיסְטִית, translit. tziyonut sotzyalistit) is the left-wing of the Zionist movement. For many years, it was the most significant tendency among Zionists and Zionist organizations. It saw itself as the Zionist sector of the historic Jewish labor movements of Eastern and Central Europe, eventually developing local units in most countries with sizable Jewish populations. Unlike the "political Zionist" tendency founded by Theodor Herzl and advocated by Chaim Weizmann, Labor Zionists did not believe that a Jewish state would be created simply by appealing to the international community or to a powerful nation such as Britain, Germany or the Ottoman Empire. Rather, Labor Zionists believed that a Jewish state could only be created through the efforts of the Jewish working class settling in Palestine and constructing a state through the creation of a progressive Jewish society with rural kibbutzim and moshavim and an urban Jewish proletariat.

Labor Zionism grew in size and influence and eclipsed "political Zionism" by the 1930s both internationally and within the British Mandate of Palestine where Labor Zionists predominated among many of the institutions of the pre-independence Jewish community Yishuv, particularly the trade union federation known as the Histadrut. The Haganah, the largest Zionist paramilitary defense force, was a Labor Zionist institution and was used on occasion (such as during the Hunting Season) against right-wing political opponents or to assist the British Administration in capturing rival Jewish militants.

Labor Zionists played a leading role in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and Labor Zionists were predominant among the leadership of the Israeli military for decades after the formation of the state of Israel in 1948.

Major theoreticians of the Labor Zionist movement included Moses Hess, Nachman Syrkin, Ber Borochov, and Aaron David Gordon and leading figures in the movement included David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, and Berl Katznelson.

Labour Day

Labour Day (Labor Day in the United States) is an annual holiday to celebrate the achievements of workers. Labour Day has its origins in the labour union movement, specifically the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest.

For most countries, Labour Day is synonymous with, or linked with, International Workers' Day, which occurs on 1 May. For other countries, Labour Day is celebrated on a different date, often one with special significance for the labour movement in that country. Labour Day is a public holiday in many countries.

In Canada and the United States, the holiday is celebrated on the first Monday of September and considered the unofficial end of summer, with summer vacations ending and students returning to school around then.

Labour movement of Singapore

NTUC, which forms the majority of the labour movement in Singapore, represents over 800,000 workers in Singapore across more than 70 unions, affiliated associations and related organisations. NTUC, along with tripartite partners, the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM), work together to tackle issues such as job re-creation, raising the effective retirement age, skills training and upgrading of the workforce, promotion of fair and progressive employment practices, and a flexible wage system, among other labour-related issues.

Singapore's tripartism model offers competitive advantage for the country by promoting economic competitiveness, harmonious labour-management relations and the overall progress of the nation. Singapore has only seen two major strikes in recent decades, once by shipyard workers in 1986 that was sanctioned by then NTUC secretary-general Ong Teng Cheong, and the November 2012 wildcat strike by Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) Chinese national bus drivers.

The modernisation of the labour movement in the late 1960s has nurtured cooperation-based rather than confrontational labour relations between employees and employers. Today, rather than engaging in traditional adversarial unionism, union leaders in Singapore also sit on major statutory boards and are actively involved in state policymaking, allowing them to use negotiation, conciliation and arbitration, thus eradicating strikes and other industrial action as a form of settling labour disputes.

Organization for Popular Democracy – Labour Movement

Organization for Popular Democracy – Labour Movement (French: Organisation pour la Démocratie Populaire - Mouvement du Travail) was the ruling political party in Burkina Faso. It was founded in April 1989 by the Union of Burkinabè Communists, the Revolutionary Military Organization (OMR) and factions from Communist Struggle Union - The Flame and Burkinabè Communist Group as a party based on Marxism, but strongly pragmatic, adopting the free market in its economic plan. It renounced Marxism–Leninism in March 1991.In February 1996 the ODP-MT became a founding organization of the Congress for Democracy and Progress.

AIn the parliamentary election held on May 24, 1992, it won 48.2% of the popular vote and 70 out of 107 seats.

The ODP-MT was led by Arsène Bongnessan Yé, Nabaho Kanidoua and Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.

It published Yeelen.

Revolutionary Independent Labour Movement

The Revolutionary Independent Labour Movement (Movimiento Obrero Independiente y Revolucionario), or MOIR, is a left-wing party in Colombia that was founded in 1970. Francisco Mosquera was the founder and ideological leader of MOIR. In August 1994 he died, after which Hector Valencia became the Secretary General of the party. In 2008 Valencia died and the union leader Gustavo Triana, vice president of the country's largest union (Central Unitaria de Trabajadores - CUT), was elected Secretary General.

The MOIR describes itself as "a political party of the working class. Its primary mission is to lead the proletarian class struggle in Colombia for its ultimate emancipation, establishment of socialism in Colombia and realize communism. Defend the people's interests and the Colombian nation and its immediate objective is the New Democratic Revolution".In the 2006 the MOIR united with other revolutionary and democratic movements in the Alternative Democratic Pole (Polo Democrático Alternativo - PDA). The MOIR works with farmers in the "National Association for Agricultural Salvation" (Asociación Nacional por la Salvación Agropecuaria), with students in the "Colombian Student Organization" (Organización Colombiana de Estudiantes - OCE), with industrial workers (with other movements Central Unitaria de Trabajadores - CUT), with consumers "National League of public services users"(Liga Nacional de Usuarios de Servicios Públicos) and intellectuals "Center for Labor Studies" (Centros de Estudios para el Trabajo-CEDETRABAJO).

The youth wing of the party is called "Patriotic Youth" (Juventud Patriotica - JUPA).

In the legislative elections of 2002, the MOIR won a senate seat with a senator named Jorge Enrique Robledo. Later in the legislative elections in 2006 and 2010, he was reelected senator, with a total of 80,969 and 165,339 votes respectively, the last time with the third largest vote in that election. The Colombian economic news magazine "Portafolio" considered Robledo the best senator of Colombia for his efforts in defense of agriculture, workers, education, health, national economics, users of public services, Colombian sovereignty and democracy.

Strike action

Strike action, also called labor strike, labour strike, or simply strike, is a work stoppage, caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became common during the Industrial Revolution, when mass labor became important in factories and mines. In most countries, strike actions were quickly made illegal, as factory owners had far more power than workers. Most Western countries partially legalized striking in the late 19th or early 20th centuries.

Strikes are sometimes used to pressure governments to change policies. Occasionally, strikes destabilize the rule of a particular political party or ruler; in such cases, strikes are often part of a broader social movement taking the form of a campaign of civil resistance. Notable examples are the 1980 Gdańsk Shipyard, and the 1981 Warning Strike, led by Lech Wałęsa. These strikes were significant in the long campaign of civil resistance for political change in Poland, and were an important mobilizing effort that contributed to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of communist party rule in eastern Europe.

Swedish labour movement

The labour movement in Sweden dates back to at least the 1850s, when Swedish workers initiated the organizing of previously spontaneous food riots into strikes, hence acting as an autonomous group.

Trade unions in the United Kingdom

Trade unions in the United Kingdom were first decriminalised under the recommendation of a Royal Commission in 1867, which agreed that the establishment of the organisations was to the advantage of both employers and employees. Legalised in 1871, the Trade Union Movement sought to reform socio-economic conditions for working men in British industries, and the trade unions' search for this led to the creation of a Labour Representation Committee which effectively formed the basis for today's Labour Party, which still has extensive links with the Trade Union Movement in Britain. Margaret Thatcher's governments weakened the powers of the unions in the 1980s, in particular by making it more difficult to strike legally, and some within the British trades union movement criticised Tony Blair's Labour government for not reversing some of Thatcher's changes. Most British unions are members of the TUC, the Trades Union Congress (founded in 1867), or where appropriate, the Scottish Trades Union Congress or the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, which are the country's principal national trade union centres.

Membership declined steeply in the 1980s and 1990s, falling from 13 million in 1979 to around 7.3 million in 2000. In September 2012 union membership dropped below 6 million for the first time since the 1940s.

Trades hall

A trades hall is a building where trade unions meet together, or work from cooperatively, as a local representative organisation, known as a labour council or trades hall council. The term is commonly used in England, New Zealand, Scotland and Australia.

They are sometimes colloquially called ''the worker's parliament''.

United Labour Party (New Zealand)

The United Labour Party of New Zealand was an early left-wing political party. Founded in 1912, it represented the more moderate wing of the labour movement. In 1916 it joined with other political groups to establish the modern Labour Party.

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