Labour movement

The term labor movement has two meanings:

  • Under the workers' movement in a broader sense is understood mass social movements depends Functioning in societies with incipient and progressive industrial capitalist mode of production. She has the emancipation of the working class or the concrete improvement of their living conditions to the target. Among its accompanying phenomena include social unrest, protests, mass strikes and Others without organizational strengthening.
  • Labor movement in the strict sense, the organizational merger of artisans and wage workers in workers' associations, trade unions, political parties to improve their social situation and Erkämpfung political rights under conditions of capitalist exploitation and political oppression (eg coalition ban).

Forms of organization

The labor movement in the narrow sense consists in particular in Central Europe typically consists of four basic types:


A key prerequisite for the emergence of the labor movement and its organizations were the early industrial workers ( " proletariat " ) common social, economic and political experiences under conditions of capitalist industrialization and political oppression. As a " law- free " workers experienced former farm workers, displaced from their land farmers and socially outclassed craftsmen first time dictated by machines industrial working rhythm in the early factories, the "dark Satanic mills" ( William Blake ). In addition, the internal power relations, Karl Marx spoke of the " despotism of the factory " and the miserable living conditions (" pauperization" ) came into the proletarian neighborhoods of the rapidly growing cities.

The land of the First Industrial Revolution, England, was also the country's first working-class movement. Wrong, it is, however, to see the Luddites ( Luddites ) at the beginning of the 19th century as their founder. Before Luddism there were in England in the late 18th century already groupings of artisans and workers in political societies who fought for universal and equal suffrage and were persecuted (London Corresponding Society with her secretary Thomas Hardy; later the Chartists ) and also trade unions (Sidney and Beatrice Webb date the earliest, the "Free Journeymen Printers", 1666 ). The early unions often disguised themselves as " relief funds " ( friendly societies ) in order to protect themselves from police persecution under the coalition prohibition (repealed 1825).

In the early days of the labor movement, the organization and forms of protest are not yet well established. They range from ad hoc coalitions on friendly societies for mutual support up to plebeian suffrage associations, and fluctuate between petitions and deputations, strikes and boycotts, riots and Maschinensturm that are "organized" of loose, mostly localized associations of wage workers to their to improve social conditions. How far away was still of ordered negotiations between entrepreneurs and wage workers, this time can be seen in Eric Hobsbawm in connection with the Maschinensturm term coined by the " collective bargaining by riot" guess ( collective bargaining by riot ).

The rise of the labor movement is closely related to the barricades of the revolutions of the 1840s in various European countries. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were the theoreticians of socialist- communist current within the workers' movement. They led to the 1847 London emerged from the League of the Righteous League of Communists, on whose behalf they published the Manifesto of the Communist Party in February 1848. This manifesto was with his internationalist claim under the slogan " Workers of all countries, unite!" The foundation of the political party organized socialist or later explicitly communist workers' movement.

In the German Confederation Ferdinand Lassalle founded in 1863 with the General German Workers 'Association ( ADAV ) the first, nor cooperative oriented Workers' Party of Germany. Wilhelm Liebknecht and August Bebel, both leading members of the convention German Workers 'Associations, a standing in competition with ADAV Association, founded in 1869 with the Social Democratic Workers' Party ( SDAP ), oriented towards the Marxist theory of social-democratic party. ADAV and SDAP united in Gotha in 1875 to form the Socialist Workers Party ( SAP), from 1890, the SPD emerged. Late 19th and early 20th century social democracy in Germany and most other countries, was still closely linked to the fledgling trade union movement, and aligned in its essential content nor significantly to the Marxist theory.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there was social democratic, religious, as well as socialist, communist and anarchist workers' clubs. Their important founders include Rosa Luxembourg, Clara Zetkin, Luise Zietz and Marie Juchacz. Reached its climax in the labor movement in the interwar period, in which it partially, such as in "Red Vienna" or in Sweden in the character of a comprehensive counter-culture. A network of associations and institutions, to the consumer cooperative organized by the youth care by children and friends Red Hawks to the funeral club, from the workers' sports, cycling and hiking club at least significant parts of the working class. Also, the fire and rescue system was partially built by workers' organizations in addition to the existing ones. So not only the Workers' Samaritan Federation Austria but occasionally also working fire departments were established in the interwar period, such as in St. Pölten. For events in public space often called Martin Chapels provided the musical accompaniment. In the home of the people (also known as the People's House ) focused political, economic and educational functions. With the rise of fascism, the rise of the labor movement optimism was broken after 1945 it came to trial, although the partial revival, but soon to trivialization and abandonment of the ideology in the early era of prosperity in most Western European countries.


Was formed in 1871 under Louis Pio, the Danish labor movement. The establishment of the Danish Social Democrats in the autumn of 1871. 1898 the Trade Union Confederation Landsorganisationen i Danmark was established.


The first Swedish trade union associations emerged in the 1870s. The breakthrough came after the great strike wave in Norrland around 1880. These strikes, which had been deposited with the use of the military, making the importance of a single organization aware. The unions joined in 1898 an umbrella organization, together, the LO ( ' national organization ').


In France, in 1791 ( the second year of the French Revolution ) had been forbidden to form trade unions and professional associations by law Le Chapelier. The Act of March 21, 1884 (also Waldeck -Rousseau law ), this ban was lifted.

The Confédération générale du travail ( CGT General Confederation of Labour ) has been the national syndicats founded in September 1895 at a congress in Limoges by the merger of the Fédération des bourses du travail and the Federation. The CGT is traditionally close to the French Communist Party.

At the beginning of World War I was the only French CGT trade union federation. The increasingly deep contrast between reformists and revolutionaries, however, led in 1921 to split the organization. The moderate forces remained in the CGT, while the more radical forces with the Confédération Générale du Travail Unitaire ( CGTU ) raised a new Trade Union Confederation of baptism.

On February 6, 1934, arrived in Paris to serious clashes between right-wing anti-parliamentary groups and the police, which called for at least 15 dead and thousands injured. Fears of a fascist coup eventually helped to overcome the division of the left and led in March 1936 to the reunification of the CGT and CGTU. A little later, on May 3, 1936, the united Left won the parliamentary elections, and Léon Blum was in the sign of the Popular Front and the first Jewish socialist Prime Minister of France.


→ Main article: Anarchism in the Netherlands

The Dutch labor movement emerged in the second half of the 19th century along with the revolutionary socialism and anarchism.


Basic requirements of the early labor movements were universal suffrage (the example of the struggle of the Chartists in England), freedom of association formation and assembly, freedom of association and the right to strike. Based on the wages and working conditions was an early demand of the ( British ) Labour Movement: " A fair work for a fair wage " to achieve the general objective of a dignified existence were minimum wages by collective agreement or state regulation, the " eight-hour day ," later " Five days a week, " labor protection, employment protection and the protection against sickness and unemployment sought. These social achievements were won by suffrage movements, lengthy strikes and collective bargaining, publicity campaigns piece by piece. The current discussions of a minimum wage fixed by the government show that these receivables are partly still today, claimed by the heirs of the labor movement, the trade unions.