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The term labour movement or labor movement is a broad term for the development of a collective organization of working people, to campaign in their own interest for better treatment from their employers and political governments, in particular through the implementation of specific laws governing labour relations. Labour unions and trade unions are collective organizations within societies, organized for the purpose of representing the interests of workers and the working class. Many elite-class individuals and political groups may also be active in and part of the labour movement.

In some countries including the United Kingdommarker and Australia the term is widely used to describe both a "political wing" and an "industrial wing". In Britain these are the Labour Party and Trades Union Congress (TUC) collectively. The Labour Party was created as the Labour Representation Committee as a result of an 1899 resolution of the TUC, though in modern times, particularly since the election of Tony Blair as leader of the Labour Party in 1994, the alliance is seen to be much looser and a number of unions have broken their formal ties with the party. In Australia, these wings of the labour movement are the Australian Labor Party, the political wing, and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the industrial wing.

History

In 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 18th century and early 19th century, groups such as the Tolpuddle Martyrs of Tolpuddlemarker, Dorsetmarker were punished and transported for forming unions, which was against the laws of the time. The movement gained major impetus in the late nineteenth and early twentieth 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 organize, and the duty of the state to regulate labour conditions. Following the release of the document, the labour movement which had previously floundered began to flourish in Europe and later in North America.

Throughout the world, action by the labour movement has led to reforms and workers' rights, such as the 2-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 central in the campaign to end child labour in the United Statesmarker during the early 20th century. An active and free labour movement is considered by many to be an important element in maintaining democracy and for economic development.

Labour and racial equality

Development of labour movements within nation states

Historically 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 Organization (ILO), international sanctions for failing to meet such standards are very limited. In many countries labour movements have developed independently and reflect those national boundaries.

Development of an international labour movement

With ever increasing levels of international trade and rising influence of multinational corporations, there has been debate and action within the labour movement broadly to attempt international co-operation. This has led to renewed efforts to organize and collectively bargain internationally. A number of international union organizations 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



See also



References



Further reading

  • Robert N. Stern, Daniel B. Cornfield, The U.S. labor movement:References and Resources, G.K. Hall & Co 1996
  • John Hinshaw and Paul LeBlanc (ed.), U.S. labor in the twentieth century : studies in working-class struggles and insurgency, Amherst, NY : Humanity Books, 2000
  • Philip Yale Nicholson, Labor's story in the United States, Philadelphia, Pa. : Temple Univ. Press 2004 (Series ‘Labor in Crisis’), ISBN 1-59213-239-1
  • Beverly Silver: Forces of Labor. Worker's Movements and Globalization since 1870, Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-521-52077-0
  • St. James Press Encyclopedia of Labor History Worldwide, St. James Press 2003 ISBN 1-55862-542-9
  • Lenny Flank (ed), IWW: A Documentary History, Red and Black Publishers, St Petersburg, Florida, 2007. ISBN 978-0-9791813-5-1


External links




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