Asian Review

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After the student uprising in 1973, Thai trade unions adopted social unionism. They allied with other forces, especially students, and promoted issues of benefit to other social classes. This phase ended with the coup of 1976. When union activity again became possible in the 1980s, the unions turned to economic unionism. They campaigned on issues of specific worker benefit (wages, social security), but allowed their alliances to decay, and forfeited broad support. In the 1990s, female workers again forged broad social alliances to fight campaigns on issues of specific female interest (maternity leave, occupational health). Because of its weakness, the trade union movement needs to cultivate social alliances. But worker issues will not have sustained support if trade unions allow others to lead campaigns.



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