Trade Unions in Southern Europe


According to Countryaah, Albania is a country located in Southern Europe. There are two trade union movements in Albania. Partly a reformed continuation of the former communist union, today called KSSH. Partly a newly formed movement, BSPSH. The trade union movements have lost strength overall.

After World War II, the Communist Party seized power in Albania. Then the communist trade union movement TUA was formed, an organization that actively participated in tributes by the country’s dictator Enver Hoxa. During democratization in the early 1990’s, TUA was reformed and changed its name to KSSH (Trade Union Confederation of Albania). One result of the democratization was that, for the first time in the organization’s history, there were open votes on who should be included in KSSH’s leadership. During the same period, the alternative trade union movement, BSPSH (Union of Independent Trade Unions of Albania), was also founded. A role model for BSPSH was Polish Solidarity.

The relationship between the two central trade unions KSSH and BSPSH is characterized by contradictions. The national organization KSSH cooperates with the reformed Communist Party, now with the name Albania’s Socialist Party, while BSPSH is allied with the Democratic Party (DP). Together, KSSH and BSPSH have around 200,000 members. The trade union affiliation is mainly concentrated in a number of industries and in the public sector.



Central trade unions: Trade Union Confederation of Albania (KSSH) and Union of Independent Trade Unions of Albania (BSPSH). Both are members of the World Trade Union ITUC.


Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of 16 countries in South Europe. The trade union movement in Bosnia and Herzegovina is divided into two geographical units. In the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the KSBiH (Trade Union Movement for Bosnia and Herzegovina) dominates. KSBiH is a reformed continuation of the former communist trade union movement that describes itself as a non-governmental, non-partisan, multinational and multiethnic organization. KSBiH has criticized the country’s extensive privatizations and made suggestions on how unemployment can be reduced. (In some contexts, the domestic abbreviation SSSBiH is also used).

KSBiH’s work today is focused on strengthening the union structure and recruiting members. The most important political issue for KSBiH is to make efforts against mass unemployment. Another inalienable requirement is that unpaid wages be paid. However, many citizens associate KSBiH with the old political structure and former rulers, the organization has gradually lost members.

In the Republic of Srpska there is TUCRS (Trade Union Movement in the Republic of Srpska). According to representatives of TUCRS, both the government and the employers are doing their best to avoid negotiations with the unions. However, a tripartite council has been formed, which guarantees future negotiations.

Overall, the trade union movement has weakened Not least, the degree of trade union organization has weakened. KSBiH reports that the organization today has 223,000 members. TUCRS reports that it has 190,000 members. However, the organization rarely participates in European trade union cooperation.

The Dayton Accords stopped the war in Bosnia. The trade union movement can contribute to continued relaxation, but a prerequisite for this is that the trade union movement receives both domestic and international support. Several international aid programs have already been launched, one of the aims of which is to assist Bosnia’s trade union movement.

Bosnia and Herzegovina


Central trade unions: The trade union movement for Bosnia and Herzegovina (KSBiH), the trade union movement in the Republic of Serbia (TUCRS). KSBiH belongs to the World Trade Union ITUC. TUCRS is not a member of the ITUC and rarely participates in European trade union cooperation.


The biggest city of Croatia is Zagreb. The degree of trade union organization is low and the trade union movement is divided along political lines. The national organization HYY is a direct continuation of the former communist trade union movement. In addition, there are several newly formed organizations. The largest are the “autonomous” trade union movement Unions of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia (UATUC) and Independent Trade Unions of Croatia (NHS). Another trade union movement is the Workers’ Trade Union Association of Croatia (URSH), which organizes public employees. UATUC reports that the organization has 164,000 members, while the NHS reports just over 113,000 members.

The closure of bankrupt metal industries has created strong conflicts. In several cases, old state-owned industries have been closed down while employees have not received their last monthly salaries.



Central trade unions: HUS-HRVATSKA (formerly a state-controlled organization), UATUC (Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia), Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Croatia (CITUC) and Croatian Union of Trade Unions (CUTU). UATUC and the NHS belong to the World Trade Union ITUC.


One consequence of Montenegro becoming an independent country was that specific trade unions for Montenegro were also formed. There are currently two competing union structures in the country. The Confederation of Trade Unions of Montenegro (CTUM) is a reformed continuation of the former Yugoslav trade union movement. The Union of Free Trade Unions of Montenegro (UFTUM) was formed in 2008 by a breakaway group within CTUM. Representatives of UFTUM have sharply criticized CTUM and accused the leadership of CTUM of using undemocratic methods and of not criticizing the extensive privatizations carried out in the country. CTUM has its base in industry, while UFTUM is stronger in health care, school and service. CTUM states that it has 62,000 individual members. UFTUM does not report the number of members.



Trade unions: There are two competing trade unions in the country: the Confederation of Trade Unions of Montenegro (CTUM) and the Union of Free Trade Unions of Montenegro (UFTUM). CTUM is a member of the World Trade Union ITUC, while UFTUM is not part of any international structures.


In Macedonia there are two registered national trade unions, CCM, (Federation of Macedonian Trade Unions) and UNASM (Federation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Macedonia). USASM reports that the organization has 5,000 members.

The CCM is a reformed continuation of the former communist trade union movement but now describes itself as an autonomous organization with independence from political parties. CCM has declined and the number of members is unclear today, but the organization claims to be the largest trade union movement in the country. CCM has a structure of 15 affiliates.

Both CCM and UNASM are registered by the Macedonian Government and participate in social deliberations on proposals concerning the labor market. CCM has signed two collective agreements, the most recent for employees in the public sector.

In eastern Macedonia, workers in the zinc mines have gone on hunger strike demanding demands that unpaid wages be paid. According to the miners’ union representatives, the state employer normally pays the wages only three months in arrears.

North Macedonia


Federation of Macedonian Trade Unions (CCM) and Federation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Macedonia (UNASM). UNASM is a member of the world union ITUC.


The country’s largest trade union central organization is Türk-is with just over 800,000 members. The largest member unions are the Textile Workers’ Union, the Road Workers’ Union and the Metal Workers’ Union. Türk-is, the oldest of the unions, has been accused of being too loyal to the state and employers. Defenders of Türk-is claim that there are different phalanxes within the organization and that some unions function as genuine unions.

The second largest is the Muslim-oriented trade union movement Hak-is. Hak-is, was founded in the mid-70’s as a Muslim-oriented alternative to the other two organizations. According to its own information, the organization has about 330,000 members. The largest affiliates organize forest workers, wood industry workers, food workers and textile workers. Hak-is also organizes many farmers.

The central organization DISK was the strong force during the trade union upswing in the late 1970’s. After the military coup in September 1980, DISK was banned, the organization’s finances were confiscated and 264 of the organization’s leaders received prison sentences. It was not until 1991 that DISK became legal again. DISK is a much more radical organization than Türk-is, in the leadership of DISK there are a number of people with close ties to the social democratic party CHP. Organizationally, DISK is strongest among paper workers, bank employees, municipal employees and in hotels and tourism. At present, DISK reports that it has around 30,000 members.

KESK, which only organizes public employees, states that it has around 200,000 members.



Türk-is, DISK, Hak-Is and KESK which organize public employees. All these organizations belong to the World Trade Union Confederation ITUC and the European Trade Union Confederation ETUC.

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