Man, Work, and Society: A Reader in the Sociology of Occupations

By Sigmund Nosow; William H. Form | Go to book overview

have been bitterly opposed. In Australia the trade unions dominate the Labor party; but there have been in recent years fierce struggles within them between Communists and anti-Communists, with governments intervening to prevent Communist control. The same struggle has taken place in New Zealand, where the Communist-controlled unions at the ports were broken up in 1951 and replaced by new unions under anti-Communist leadership. In India there are rival movements headed by Communists and by Socialists and adherents of the Congress party. In China a vast new trade union movement is being established under Communist control. In Japan the unions have been set up on a nonpolitical basis under the American occupation, but are now a battleground of rival political tendencies. In Malaya there is a struggle between Communist-dominated groups and new unions set up with official encouragement on West European lines. In the West Indies, trade unions established mainly among plantation workers under nationalist leadership have passed from tumultuous beginnings to serving as the main support of nationalist politicians in office. In West Africa, again, nationalism has played a large part in the growth of trade unions, which tend to be fully as much political as industrial organizations. In French Northern Africa there is a struggle between Communists and anti-Communists for the control of unions still for the most part at a rudimentary stage of growth.

Thus, in each country, trade unionism is shaped not only by the form and stage of economic development, but also by the political conditions and by the general structure of the society in which it has to act. . . . In most countries trade unionism remains predominantly an urban movement. There are quite strong unions of agricultural workers in Great Britain, among the vine-growers in France, and in a few other countries. But there is little room for agricultural trade unionism in peasant countries--peasants organize mainly cooperative societies of various types--and even in industrialized countries firms are often fairly small, so that the hired workers are widely scattered and difficult to organize. In countries dominated by "plantation economy," there is more scope for trade unions; but they are often bitterly opposed by the planters, and in a good many cases the plantations are manned largely by imported workers, who cannot easily combine with others in a country from which they expect to return home later on.


4. THE PRESENT POSITION OF AMERICAN UNIONISM · George H. Hildebrand

Between 1933 and 1950 union membership rose fivefold--from 2.9 million to about 15.0 million.1 In 1951 there were nearly 50 million wage or salary employees--about 80 per cent of the total civilian labor force.2 These 50 million employees make up what Sumner Slichter has termed

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