Trade Unions in Europe


The civil war in Kosovo shattered much of the trade union activity. The former old trade union movement SSSJ is part of the Serbian country organization Catus. In reality, however, this movement is marginalized and lacks influence. More active is the Albanian Central Trade Union Confederation, Bashkimi i Sindikatave te Pavarura te Kosovej (BSPK – Federation of Trade Unions of Kosovo). Overall, the trade union movement is weak. One reason is that the government and various political parties have systematically tried to get their own candidates into the trade union leaderships. The number of collective agreements is small and it is unusual with trade union actions. An exception is the teachers’ union, which has a high degree of organization and organized strikes.

BSPK reports that the organization has about 70,000 members. BSPK collaborates primarily with other trade unions in the Balkans.


Bashkimi in Sindikatave te Pavarura te Kosovej (BSPK) BSPK recently became a member of the world union ITUC.


According to Countryaah, Serbia is one of 44 countries in Europe. Strikes in coal mines and in public transport accelerated the fall of the Serbian trade union movement Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. In no other country in Eastern Europe – with Poland as a possible exception – the trade union movement plays as great a role in societal development as in Serbia. About half of all employees are unionized.

However, the trade union movement is divided. In 1991, the national organization Nezavistnost was formed, it immediately became an important part of the opposition to Milosevic. At the same time, the old, and formerly state-supported, trade union movement SSS-Serbia continued to support Milosevic.

But in a way, Nezavistnost’s role was simpler and more unambiguous under Milosevic’s rule. Today, Nezavistnosts are in an identity crisis. Internally, there is a lively discussion about what questions the organization should now ask in the foreground. Nezavistnost belongs to

Nezavistnosts is focused on educating members and influencing the country’s legislation. On the other hand, the traditional trade union work of building clubs in workplaces and concluding collective agreements is weakly developed. Nezavistnost’s membership base is primarily among workers with qualified education, among teachers and employees in the media.

At the same time, SSS-Serbia has undergone an internal reform and renamed itself Catus (Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia). Catus has its main base among workers in the heavy industry and with low education.

Both Catus and Nezavistnosts belong to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). Catus states that it has 465,000 members and Nezavistnosts just under 130,000.

When it comes to the view of privatizations, there is a rift between the country’s two large trade unions. Catus has consistently opposed all privatizations and demands that large industrial companies be retained in state ownership. On the contrary, Nezavistnosts has welcomed the privatizations, but criticized the process itself.

In addition to Nezavistnost and Catus, there is also a third country organization ASNS, started by a former minister. Most indications, however, are that ASNS is on the verge of being marginalized and disappearing from the union scene.



Central trade unions: Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia (CATUS) and Ujedinjeni Granski Sindikati Nezavisnost. Both belong to the World Trade Union ITUC.


Russia is the largest country in Europe. In Russia, there are two types of unions. On the one hand, those who survived the Soviet era. On the one hand, those formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Russia’s largest trade union organization, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR), is a reformed continuation of the old communist trade union movement. The FNPR has been democratized and with its 21 million members is the largest member organization within the World Trade Union ITUC. To some extent, the FNPR still retains its old assets, not least in the form of premises and some holiday facilities. The FNPR has also been attracted to retain a large number of its former members.

The second form of trade unions was formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This group of organizations includes local independent trade unions, trade unions and central trade unions. Perhaps the most well-known is the Inter-Regional Trade Union Workers’ Association (MPRA), which was initially initiated by car workers in St. Petersburg. Petersburg. Another of these newly formed organizations is the Confederation of Workers in Russia (KTR). Two other newly formed organizations are the Confederation of Workers in Russia (KTR) and the Russian Confederation of Workers (VKT). Both KTR and VKT are organizations formed after the fall of the Soviet Union. VKT has around 1.3 members, the organization’s strongest stronghold is the mining town of Norilsk. KTR has approximately 1.2 million members, primarily in transport, ports, aviation, etc.

The reformed trade union movement FNPR is by far the largest in Russia, but it is rather the newly formed organizations that are most reminiscent of the Swedish trade union movement. For these newly formed organizations, issues of wages and working conditions are still central, while the FNPR still has closer ties with the state apparatus and places more emphasis on recreation and leisure.

Within the FNPR, there are also various political phalanxes. The majority is currently trying to maintain good contacts with President Vladimir Putin, the strategy of having good relations with the ruling political power is of old Russian date. Before Putin became president, however, many considered his policies anti-union. The FNPR’s Farmers’ Union was most extreme in its criticism and supported the communist leader Gennady Zyuganov in the presidential election.

VKT and KTR received extensive American support during the construction phase. From the American horizon, it was believed at the time that the old union structure would completely fall apart and that it was therefore logical to support newly formed organizations. However, the American perspective turned out to be wrong. It is the reformed trade union movement, FNPR, which today dominates the trade union scene.

VKT and KTR only have influence in certain segments of working life. VKT organizes many in the transport sector and KTR in the mining sector. Politically, VKT has approached the FNPR, while KTR is trying to keep its distance from the “political center of the trade union movement”, as the FNPR calls itself. The problem for both VKT and KTR is that they have to maintain a certain disagreement with the FNPR – otherwise the two central organizations have no raison d’ĂȘtre.

The Independent Russian Trade Union Confederation (SOTSPROF) has also applied for membership of the ITUC – but has not been accepted. The reason is SOTSPROF’s deficient membership statistics, there is a lack of credible information about the size of the organization. SOTSPROF represents the right-wing opposition within the trade union movement. Initially, SOTSPROF profiled itself through its support for Boris Yeltsin. The organization has since gained a worse reputation, partly because it received money from fascist unions in Italy.

A relatively newly formed trade union movement is the Inter-Regional Trade Union Workers’ Asspciation (MPRA). It is mainly based in the automotive industry. ZASITA is a trade union with a base among coal miners. The trade union has successfully raised the salaries of its members. Due to the country’s strong dependence on coal energy, the coal miners have a strong negotiating position. Both state and private employers have been forced to retire.

In 2001, APATIT, the Association of Trade Unions of Pan-National and Transnational Enterprises, was formed, an organization that has employer representatives in several leading positions. The trade unions claim that APATIT is a yellow union and fear that it will attract members from the genuine trade unions. The chairman of APATIT, Anatolii Yashchenko, has declared that he is dissatisfied with the way the FNPR has represented trade unions operating in companies with “big capital”.

A difficulty for the unified Russian trade union movement is the weak legal rights. It is in principle impossible to organize a legal strike, which has made it difficult to put pressure on employers in the negotiations. This in turn has caused the coverage of collective agreements to fall, but at present there are no official statistics on the degree of coverage.



Central trade unions : Including the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR), the Confederation of Labor of Russia (KTR), the Inter-Regional Trade Union Workers’ Association (MPRA) and the Independent Russian Trade Union Confederation (SOTSPROF). Of these, the FNPR and KTR are members of the World Trade Union ITUC.

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