The current political and economic situation confronts the Italian trade unions with three specific problems in the field of strategy: Union Policies are beset by the tensions between two sets of goals. "In the space of a few years, Italy changed from the country with the weakest trade union organisation in the Western democratic world to the country which perhaps has the strongest trade unions of all". This growth in union power was based in part on the expansion of the mass labour force and its apparent confirmation of the egalitarian assumption that the working class is homogeneous. As trade union battles intensified in 1968/69, the Italian unions found themselves in a new situation. The development of "alternatives" to industrial policies has become a standard feature of Italian trade union culture. With the economic crisis, however, this claim to provide alternatives has lost all substance.