The constitution of France allows for the establishment of various unions, including trade unions to cater for the rights of employees. However, considering membership terms, the French trade union is amongst the weakest in the European countries (Parson, 2015). Only about 8% of the employees belong to the trade unions. The union is divided into rival confederations which compete for membership. The major confederations include the CGT, FO, CFGT, and CFE-CGC. The trade unions, despite the low membership, have a say in elections for the representatives of the employees.
In history, only five major union confederations which have membership all over the nation have existed. They include the CGT, CFDT, CFTC, CFE-CC, and the FO. Other small unions such as the FSU, the Solidaires, and the UNSA have also been of significant influence in France.
However, the law passed in 2008 introduced new criteria for the determination of whether a union is a representative at the company level, industry of national level (Parson, 2015). There are requirements that a union must have at least a certain minimum membership to be considered to be of a given level. In smaller companies, having a membership of below ten employees, they can cast their votes for their favorite regional unions.
The CGT has taken the most aggressive stand amongst the largest unions on industrial and political issues. It, however, does not act with violence as the policy declares that the trade unions’ role is demanding, proposing and negotiating, resisting and constructing.
Though the organizations have parallel structures, they are organized on similar lines. There exists tension among the different elements, but the concentration of power is at the confederation level. There has been a decline in the trade unions membership, but the role of the unions has remained to be significant in the economy. They have mobilized their members for mass action and strikes.
- Parsons, N. (2015). Left parties and trade unions in France. French Politics, 13(1), p. 63-83.