Work, Employment & Society vol:24 issue:2 pages:221-240
Contrary to predictions of continued weakness of the union movement in post-socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe, in recent years Polish trade unions have undertaken various revitalisation attempts, including campaigns to organise unions in the private sector. Although the existing literature accounts for this internal union transformation by referring to macrosocial and institutional
factors, this article suggests that the emerging potential of union renewal is linked with the new forms of union activism and worker agency. This assertion is based on
an exploratory empirical study using 45 biographical narrative interviews with company-level union representatives in Poland. The analysis reveals the existence of ‘transitional’ and ‘reinvented’ patterns of union activism. The article concludes that new unionism in Poland does not resemble an economic unionism or broad social movement unionism as suggested by other authors. On the contrary, it follows a path that combines the reinvented union ethos with market-oriented strategies.