Accueil » 52-1 ( 1997) » La géométrie du syndicalisme : une analyse comparative des identités et des idéologies

La géométrie du syndicalisme : une analyse comparative des identités et des idéologies

Richard Hyman

Résumé

Cet article offre un cadre pour l'analyse comparative des orientations politiques des syndicats, en distinguant des types idéaux idéologiques et identitaires qui se rapportent, premièrement, à la négociation sur le marché du travail ; deuxièmement, au renforcement de l'intégration des travailleurs dans la société ; troisièmement, à la poursuite conflictuelle d'intérêts de classe. L'argument est qu'en pratique les mouvements syndicaux européens ont généralement épousé une combinaison de ces orientations dans laquelle deux des trois éléments ont été retenus (souvent de façon contradictoire) comme prioritaires. Les cas de la Grande-Bretagne, de l'Italie et de l'Allemagne sont utilisés pour démontrer différentes combinaisons d'idéologies et d'objectifs, et également pour révéler comment les identités héritées ont récemment été mises sous tension.

Abstract

This article proposes and applies a framework for the comparative analysis of trade union policy orientations, exploring the dynamics of continuity and change in ideologies and identifies. It is common to distinguish three broad types of trade unionism. The "business unionism" historically characteristic in the United States and to some extent in Britain, involves a role primarily as interest organizations with labour market functions. The communist tradition which emerged in part in opposition to "pure-and-simple" unionism envisages unions as "schools of war" in a socio-political struggle between labour and capital; within Europe, this conception has been a powerful influence on trade unions in the Mediterranean countries for much of the present century. A third type, related both to social-democratic and christian-democratic traditions, envisages unions as vehicles for improving workers' status within existing (capitalist) society and in the process contributing to social stability and cohesion: a model which in the second half of this century became dominant in most northern European countries.

In practice, union movements have rarely succeeded in adhering exclusively to any of these ideal types. The article suggests that union identities may be conceived within a triangulation of forces — Market, Class and Society — which exert contradictory pressures on policy. Typically, union movements have been most strongly shaped by a mix of two of these three forces, but in certain circumstances the third has corne to exert greater influence, leading to a reshaping of ideology and identity. This framework is applied in three national contexts. In Britain, the labour movement has traditionally displayed an uneasy mix of business unionism and class rhetoric, expressed in a pattern of militant economisal. An adverse labour market and a hostile government have however undermined this model, leading to a growing redefinition of union purposes and identities in terms of continental European notions of social partnership.

In Italy, a long-standing confrontation between the majority communist class-oriented confederation and its Christian- and social-democratic rivals was effectively resolved in the "historic compromise" of the 1970s: despite occasional ruptures, for most of the succeeding period the main confederations have united around a programme emphasizing both class politics and social integration. However, with the economie problems of the 1980s and 1990s, and in particular the competitive pressures on Italian capital, unions have been increasingly obliged to respond to company-level market forces.

In Germany, the dominant post-war conception of the "social market economy" has framed union identities and strategies. Unions have on the one hand insisted on the importance of "free collective bargaining", but have qualified their bargaining role by a conception of their function as "social partners" within the broader German polity. During the decades of German economic success, this provided a stable foundation for union policy. However, recent economie difficulties have eroded consensus between government, employers and unions on the preservation of the "social market" and have forced unions to move towards a more oppositional and class-conscious orientation.

Resumen

Este articulo ofrece un marco para el análisis comparativo de las orientaciones políticas de los sindicatos, al distinguir los idéales — tipo ideológicos e identificables que se reportan, primero, a la negociación sobre el mercado del trabajo; segundo, al refuerzo de la integración de los trabajadores dentro de la sociedad; tercero, a la persecución conflictiva de los intereses de clase. El argumento es que en practica los movimientos sindicales europeos han generalmente utilizado una combinación de estas orientaciones en la cual dos de los très elementos antes mencionados se encuentran (de manera contradictoria en la mayoría de los casos) como prioritarios. Los casos de la Gran Bretana, de Italia y de Alemania son utilizados para demostrar diferentes combinaciones de ideologías y de objetivos, y del mismo modo para demostrar como las identidades heredadas pasan por un periodo de tension.