The International Trade Union Confederation: From Two (or More?) Identities to One


  • Rebecca Gumbrell-McCormick is at Birkbeck, University of London.


The International Trade Union Confederation was founded in 2006, consisting primarily of former affiliates of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the World Confederation of Labour (although its creation was not formally a merger). I show how changes in the ideologies and identities of both confederations helped to overcome years of mutual antagonism and paved the way for unification. I consider the unification process in the broader perspective of the literature on trade union mergers but stress the need to focus on the role of ideas in such structural changes. The conclusion considers the problems the new confederation faces in developing a common set of ideas and a clear identity out of the separate orientations of its forerunners.