Trade unions – a crisis of relevance


Sir, – Peter Cluskey’s article was so timely (“Dutch trade union movement in a spiral of decline”, Analysis, World News, November 11th).

It is a wake-up call to those of us who are worried about the growing irrelevance of the trade union movement and the falling support for the social democratic parties across Europe.

Those two great branches of civic society, the unions and the labour parties, that delivered so much of the worker and social reform of the European Union, seem today to be floundering in our changing world. The post-Berlin Wall generation is entering a world of work that sees little need for worker representation.

Support for social democratic parties is weakening. Populist parties promising tax reductions have convinced the voter that investment in services and infrastructure is no longer a priority; the poor and the needy are being ignored.

As Peter Cluskey states, “something fundamental is changing”.

Trade unions and social democratic parties must recognise that it is they who have failed to remain relevant in today’s world. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.