chapter  1
18 Pages

Introduction – trade unions and democracy: possibilities and contradictions

ByGeoffrey Wood

This book seeks to explore the role of trade unions as products of, and agents for democracy. In dealing with unions and democracy, one is, of course, looking at two closely related issues. Firstly, there is the extent to which unions may, as civil society agents, promote democracy within wider society in the case of authoritarian regimes and/or when formal structures for democratic pluralism seem moribund or semi-functional, as watchdogs protecting hard won democratic gains, or as partners to an accommodation between competing interest groups. Secondly, there are questions of internal union democracy, the tensions between rank-and-file and leadership, and the effects of strategic deals or alliances on internal accountability.