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Trade Unions

Trade unions in the Commonwealth

Trade unions are some of the oldest institutions of civil society in the Commonwealth.  Over the decades trade unions have been actively involved in coalescing and advancing the interests of labour in collective bargaining, organised industrial action and providing services including legal advice to their members. In a significant number of cases they have acted as one voice through collective federations and national trade union centres. Worldwide modern trade unionism has a sizeable part of its history in the Commonwealth. The UK had an early role in trade unionism as the birthplace of industrialisation. Today, in most Commonwealth member countries one will find at the very least a teachers union, a civil service or public service union and a trade union centre or federation.

For a number of member countries trade unionism is strongly linked with political transformation. In South Africa trades unions are historically associated with the successful struggle against apartheid.  Two general strikes in 1946 and 1947 in Sri Lanka led partly by trade unions were key events towards the country’s achievement of independence in 1948.Trade unions in the UK have played a powerful role in politics indirectly through lobbying and directly through the Labour Party where they have significant power in choosing the Labour Party leader whom, at several points in history, has been elected prime minister.

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Antigua and Barbuda Australia The Bahamas
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Trinidad and Tobago Uganda United Kingdom
United Republic of Tanzania Zambia