union, labor: On the Continent

Labor unions developed differently on the Continent than they did in Great Britain and in the United States, mainly because the European unions organized along industrial rather than along craft lines and because they engaged in more partisan political activity. In Germany the printers' and cigarmakers' unions were started after the uprisings of 1848; German unions until World War I were responsible for much social legislation. In France labor unions were organized in the early part of the 19th cent. but received no legal recognition until 1884. In most European countries labor organizations either are political parties or are affiliated with political parties, usually left-wing ones. In some European countries, notably Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands, there are rival Christian and Socialist trade-union movements. In Russia, trade unions first appeared on a considerable scale in the revolution of 1905 but were later stamped out. They reappeared in the 1917 revolution and became highly organized in a national movement under Communist control. Between the revolution and fall of the Communist party in 1991, the trade-union movement in the Soviet Union was mainly an instrument of the state in its drive for higher industrial production.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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