• Reinhard Naumann
  • Alan Stoleroff
Part of the The Societies of Europe book series (SOEU)


Portugal has undergone a profound transition from an authoritarian regime and traditional economy to a democratic society and modernizing economy within the European Union (EU). However, contemporary labour relations and union structure are marked by the long authoritarian regime (1926–74) and by the late democratization following the revolution of 1974. The legacy of intervention by an authoritarian state and a state-induced corporatist organization with partly compulsory membership had a long-term impact on the formation of interest organization during the transition period. As in its neighbour Spain, Portugal’s union movement suffers from political fragmentation. A communist-led union confederation emerged from the clandestine union opposition movement during the regime, but a rival socialist union confederation was created by the two non-communist parties and white-collar unions. The political split thus partly coincides with status-group divisions-the socialist union confederation predominantly organizes white-collar employees. But also employer interests are fragmented by sector and by region. Efforts to institutionalize a modern collective bargaining system, government-union concertation and workplace representation were only partially successful due to the political fragmentation of the unions, lacking willingness on the employer side, and difficult relations between a governing Socialist party and the Communist-led union confederation. In contrast to Spain’s low union density level, Portugal’s unions have been able to uphold a somewhat higher level of union membership after the revolutionary mobilization wave, though reliable membership data are difficult to obtain.


Collective Bargaining Labour Relation Industrial Relation Union Membership Labour Movement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Bernhard Ebbinghaus and Jelle Visser 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reinhard Naumann
  • Alan Stoleroff

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