Explaining 'varieties of solidarity': Labour mobility and trade unions in an enlarged Europe
The enlargement of the European Union in 2004 and 2007 simultaneously extended the freedom of movement to workers from new Member States and sharpened existing economic inequalities within the EU. Drawing on the data of three projects, this article examines the conditions under which, and in what ways, real (as opposed to rhetorical) solidarity is forged by trade unions within and across boundaries in relation to migrant workers. Sectoral dynamics provide important insights into cross-country commonalities. In particular, the data demonstrate the importance of the strategies of individual unions and the agency of individuals within them in explaining ‘varieties of solidarity’ and their varying success. The article concludes by arguing that the growth of right-wing xenophobic parties and the failure of social democratic parties to offer an alternative narrative mean that trade union strategies are being formulated and executed in an increasingly hostile political climate.