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Accepted Paper:

Disclosing transnational labour activism. The Maghreb in the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions (ICATU)  
Laura Morreale (University of Perugia) Daniele Paolini (University of Perugia) Anna Baldinetti (University of Perugia) Martina Biondi (UniversitĂ  di Perugia)

Paper short abstract:

Focusing on the interplay between pan-African and pan-Arab labour organizations, the paper analyses the relations between trade unions from Maghreb countries and the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions (ICATU), from its foundation to the mid-1970s.

Paper long abstract:

The international labour networks, within and beyond Africa, have recently been the object of a new wave of interest. However, the impact of the transnational labour networks on the Maghrebi regional level has not yet been fully disclosed. This paper focuses on the experience of the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions (ICATU), which played a pivotal role for unionism in the Arab region over the decades. Established in 1956 to unite Arab labour under the common banner of pan-Arabism, ICATU successfully mobilized Arab union organizations and combined purely labour issues with broader political demands.

Presenting an ongoing study on the ICATU, the paper aims to investigate the participation of trade unions from Maghrebi countries (Libya, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia) to the Confederation. The study of the role of Maghrebi unions within the ICATU gives new perspectives on how the affiliated organizations participated in the transnational dimension and negotiated their role within pan-Arab and pan-African labour solidarity.

The contribution focuses on the early stage of the ICATU’s development. Going from its foundation in 1956 to the first half of the 1970s, it explores: a) the motivations that led the Maghrebi trade federations to affiliate themselves in different periods with the Confederation; b) the attitudes of Maghrebi trade federations towards Nasserist attempts to consider ICATU as a tool to strengthen his leadership in the Arab World; c) their different positioning within the pan-Arab dimension of labour solidarity and towards other transnational networks, especially the pan-African one.

Panel Hist25
The African labour movement at a historical crossroads: past and future of unionism, work and society in Africa
  Session 1 Thursday 1 June, 2023, -