The essential differences from the centralized Trade Unions

Submitted by Juan Conatz on December 23, 2010

From the programmatic foundation of the FVDG, consisting primarily of its theoretical points from 1911, one can see a clear contrast to the major trade unions. The latter comprised centralized, dependent organizations that administered funds and determined the legitimacy of strikes, at times hindering or breaking off such actions. The members of these unions were conditioned to obey and the strikes of these institutions were generally defensive actions. The central trade unions also represented business interests and relied on the system of representation that allowed them a voice in managing production. These organizations won over and held on to members through their benefits, which included healthcare, funds for the unemployed and disbursements for funeral costs. The central trade unions sought reform within the bounds of capitalistic economic forms, promoted comprehensive wage-contract policies, adhered to a praxis of small strikes and, along with the party, sought military reforms.

In contrast, the syndicalists were organized in a federal manner, where the local unions were self-sufficient and allowed independent action, even to the point of strikes and negotiations. Solidarity was the watchword of syndicalist workers, who represented class interests through aggressive strikes and direct action. Unlike workers in other unions, the syndicalists only paid money into strike and mutual assistance funds. These workers agitated for the overthrow of capitalism, seeking not peace but a struggle against the entrepreneurial class, advocating mass- and general-strikes and rejecting militarism out of hand.

But within two years [1923-1925] the FAUD suffered losses so severe that its membership stood at a fifth of its high-watermark. Of the remaining 20,000-30,000 members about half represented the ideologically committed core of the organization.