The labour movement or labor movement consists of two main wings: the trade union movement or labor union movement, also called trade unionism or labor unionism on the one hand, and the political labour movement on the other.
- The trade union movement consists of the collective organisation of working people developed to represent and campaign for better working conditions and treatment from their employers and, by the implementation of labour and employment laws, from their governments. The standard unit of organisation is the trade union.
- The political labour movement in many countries includes a political party that represents the interests of employees, often known as a "labour party" or "workers' party". Many individuals and political groups otherwise considered to represent ruling classes may be part of, and active in, the labour movement.
HistoryIn Europe, the labour movement began during the industrial revolution, when agricultural jobs declined and employment moved to more industrial areas. The idea met with great resistance. In the early 19th century, groups such as the Tolpuddle Martyrs of Dorset were punished and transported for forming unions, which was against the laws of the time.
Trade unionism was active during the early to mid-19th century and various labour parties and trade unions were formed throughout the industrialised parts of the world. The International Workingmen's Association, the first attempt at international coordination, was founded in London in 1864. The major issues included the right of the workers to organize themselves, and the right to an 8-hour working day. In 1871 workers in France rebelled and the Paris Commune was formed. From the mid-19th century onward the labour movement became increasingly globalised.
The movement gained major impetus during the late 19th and early 20th centuries from the Catholic Social Teaching tradition which began in 1891 with the publication of Pope Leo XIII's foundational document, Rerum novarum, also known as "On the Condition of the Working Classes," in which he advocated a series of reforms including limits on the length of the work day, a living wage, the elimination of child labour, the rights of labour to organise, and the duty of the state to regulate labour conditions.
Throughout the world, action by labourists has resulted in reforms and workers' rights, such as the two-day weekend, minimum wage, paid holidays, and the achievement of the eight-hour day for many workers. There have been many important labour activists in modern history who have caused changes that were revolutionary at the time and are now regarded as basic. For example, Mary Harris Jones, better known as "Mother Jones", and the National Catholic Welfare Council were important in the campaign to end child labour in the United States during the early 20th century.
Labour partiesModern labour parties originated from an increase in organising activities in Europe and European colonies during the 19th century, such as the Chartist movement in the United Kingdom during 1838–50.
In 1891, localised labour parties were formed, by trade union members in the British colonies of Australia. They later amalgamated to form the Australian Labor Party. In 1899, the labour party in the Colony of Queensland briefly formed the world's first labour government, lasting one week.
The British Labour Party was created as the Labour Representation Committee, as a result of an 1899 resolution by the Trade Union Congress.
While archetypal labour parties are made of direct union representatives, in addition to members of geographical branches, some union federations or individual unions have chosen not to be represented within a labour party and/or have ended association with them.
Labour festivalsLabour festivals have long been a part of the labour movement. Often held outdoors in the summer, the music, talks, food, drink, and film have attracted hundreds of thousands of attendees each year.
Labour and racial equalityA degree of strategic bi-racial cooperation existed among black and white dockworkers on the waterfronts of New Orleans, Louisiana during the early 20th century. Although the groups maintained racially separate labour unions, they coordinated efforts to present a united front when making demands of their employers. These pledges included a commitment to the "50-50" or "half-and-half" system wherein a dock crew would consist of 50% black and 50% white workers and agreement on a single wage demand to reduce the risk of ship owners pitting one race against the other. Black and white dockworkers also cooperated during protracted labour strikes, including general levee strikes in 1892 and 1907 as well as smaller strikes involving skilled workers such as screwmen in the early 1900s.
Development of labour movements within nation statesHistorically labour markets have often been constrained by national borders that have restricted movement of workers. Labour laws are also primarily determined by individual nations or states within those nations. While there have been some efforts to adopt a set of international labour standards through the International Labour Organisation, international sanctions for failing to meet such standards are very limited. In many countries labour movements have developed independently and represent those national boundaries.
Development of an international labour movementWith ever-increasing levels of international trade and increasing influence of multinational corporations, there has been debate and action among labourists to attempt international co-operation. This has resulted in renewed efforts to organize and collectively bargain internationally. A number of international union organisations have been established in an attempt to facilitate international collective bargaining, to share information and resources and to advance the interests of workers generally.
List of national labour movements
- Trade unions in Albania
- Trade unions in Algeria
- Trade unions in Andorra
- Trade unions in Angola
- Trade unions in Antigua and Barbuda
- Trade unions in Argentina
- Trade unions in Armenia
- Australian labour movement
- Trade unions in Benin
- Trade unions in Botswana
- Trade unions in Burkina Faso
- Trade unions in Egypt
- Trade unions in Ethiopia
- Trade unions in Germany
- Trade unions in Ghana
- Trade unions in India
- Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions
- Trade unions in Ireland
- Labour unions in Japan
- Trade unions in Malaysia
- Trade unions in Maldives
- Trade unions in Nauru
- Trade unions in Niger
- Trade unions in Oman
- Trade unions in Pakistan
- Trade unions in Qatar
- Trade unions in Senegal
- Trade unions in South Africa
- Trade unions in Spain
- Swedish labour movement
- Trade unions in Switzerland
- Labour movement in Taiwan
- Trade unions in Tanzania
- Trade unions in the United Kingdom
- Labor unions in the United States