Union Strength, History and Effects
The thoroughness of the economic reforms of the 1970s and 1980s diminished union presence worldwide. It also raised new issues in the analysis of unions. The alternative faced was posed as one between classical unionism and classical markets. Even in mainstream academic analysis there has been a tendency to emphasize the importance of territorially based movements compared with labour unions.1 In short, it remains controversial, to say the least, how far workplace unions did play or can play a role in the new scenario. And it remains to be seen how far this role is appropriate, at least in principle, to the universal definition and application of rights. In this chapter we analyze the factors that motivated the operation of industrial unions in Chile. We also assess their incipient role in building forms of occupational citizenship. Private-sector unions were remarkably quiet during Chile’s transition, above and beyond what would be expected to accompany a period of political opening.2 This quietness might suggest that unions were not capable of exploiting the new environment. Furthermore, a unionization rate of 15 per cent was not impressive. It was even within the lower range of an average estimate of unionization rates in periods following authoritarian rule.3
KeywordsCollective Bargaining Labour Relation Local Union Local Leader Union Leader
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