Women, Trade Unions and Solidarities
In the search for identity and the longing to become a powerful force, trade unions have traditionally focused primarily on free collective bargaining as a way of negotiating conflicts of interests between labour and capital. Conflict between worker and employer was, and still is, central to the ethics of trade unionism in the aim to balance the power that is stacked against the employee, who only has their labour to sell. Up until the late 20th century, this binary division between classes was a unitary aspect of trade union identity, with the ‘rootedness’ of labour seen as a source of power, particularly in the mining villages and ‘union towns’ of the UK. However, feminists have often considered the conventional form of trade unions to be oppressive, hierarchal, and thus restrictive of women’s differences and rights.
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