POLITICAL REPRESENTATION OF WORKER AND TRADE UNIONS INTERESTS (Polityczne reprezentacje interesów pracowniczych i zwiazkowych)
The article deals with the nature and conditions underlying mutual relations between Poland's trade unions and political parties. One of the ways in which trade unions operate is by bringing pressure to bear on the parties, with the objective of better satisfying the needs and requirements of their members. Meanwhile, in their fight to gain and retain power, the political parties require the capital represented by the trade unions' ability to mobilise and they need the unions' support. It is this which dictates the mutual dependence of assumedly autonomous institutional structures in a democratic state. Eventually, the nature of the mutual relations falls into a specific pattern, this being the result of separate development processes on the part of both sides. The unions might be constructed, for example, in accordance with a management model focused on a powerful internal organisational structure and leadership, as well as ongoing communication with the membership; they might also follow a political model, based on building relationships with leaders in the political milieu and external organisations. This second developmental track threatens the unions with weakness, curtailing their autonomy and politicisation. In this case, the trap of exchange relationships becoming petrified, or of their being blocked in the case of selected political partners, becomes utterly realistic.The single most influential trade union, NSZZ Solidarity, is placed at the focal centre. The organisation's relations with the current major players on the political scene, 'Platforma Obywatelska - PO' (Civic Platform) and 'Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc - PiS' (Law and Justice), are considered. The union's predominant political developmental track is shown, as is the resulting petrification of relations with the political parties. In its relationship with PiS, what predominates is an exchange of support, and symbolic resources which is based on collaboration and functions regardless of whether that party is in opposition or in power. In its relationship with PO, it is conflict, the blocking of exchange, blackmail and games with resources which are evident. In this situation, the effective representation of employee interests is difficult and it is not hard, in such a situation, to understand the oft-expressed dissatisfaction of union members. The keener the union leaders are to employ these moods in their battle for political influence, the more forcefully and the less conventionally the members articulate this dissatisfaction. As a result of the institutionalised trade union culture, such a situation will be difficult to repair.
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