From Global Unions to the Shop Floor: Trade Union Networks in Transnational Corporations in Brazil


This article analyses the origins, development and organisation of cross-union, company-based trade union networks in transnational corporations in the metal and chemical industries in Brazil. Collectively developed by local, national, foreign and international trade union organisations, this kind of union action was introduced in the country in the early 2000s as a way to connect local labour representatives organising workers in different locations within the same company. Networks strengthen local labour power and stimulate transnational connections. Promoting solidarity among workers across multiple factories, they offer the perspective for a global unionism connected to shop-floor organisation. Despite these achievements, networks face important challenges. Power imbalances, the reliance on restrictive social dialogue arrangements and the compromise with traditional structures limit the reach of the strategy.

 KEY WORDS: globalisation; trade unions; new labour transnationalism; trade union networks; Brazil

Author Biographies

Ricardo Framil Filho, University of São Paulo

Ricardo Framil Filho is a PhD student in Sociology at the University of São Paulo. His research revolves around social movements, labour and globalisation.

Leonardo Mello e Silva, University of São Paulo

Leonardo Mello e Silva is a Researcher at the Department of Sociology, University of São Paulo, Brazil, and teaches Sociology of Work and Development in the same institution.