The Influence of Trade Unions in France

An explanation of why French trade unions, which enjoy such little support, nevertheless seem to exert considerable political influence.

This paper examines how the French trade union movement has shared many of the problems that have dented the power of trade unions across Western Europe and how it has faced many additional difficulties which are distinct to France. It looks at how French trade unions are often capable of exerting great political influence and how in particular, they wield a surprisingly great influence concerning issues related to the Welfare State and public sector.
“As mentioned, it would be prudent to begin addressing this question by examining the notion of the “limited support” for French trade unions. In the past three decades, trade unions across Europe have begun to see their support (primarily in terms of number of members and their level of commitment, and backing from companies and political parties) dwindle as a result of a number of factors, which French trade unions have been similarly affected by. Trade unions have found their economic bargaining positions increasingly weakened as a result of globalisation, whereby unskilled Western European labour competes with cheaper labour from developing countries, and because of the fact that very nearly all workers have now experienced unemployment at some time and are increasingly wary of the threat that it poses.”