Back to overview Show all

Contribution to book (peer-reviewed)

Book Corporate Policing, Yellow Unionism, and Strikebreaking, 1890–1930 In Defence of Freedom
Editor , Saluppo Alessandro; , Millan Matteo
Publisher Routledge, Abingdon Oxon ; New York NY : Routledge 2021. | Series: Routledge studies in modern history
Page(s) 97 - 114
ISBN 9780429354243
Title of proceedings Corporate Policing, Yellow Unionism, and Strikebreaking, 1890–1930 In Defence of Freedom
DOI 10.4324/9780429354243

Open Access


Comparing post-WWI European societies to fortresses attacked by revolutionaries and defended by “the forces of order” Charles S. Maier wrote: “if the weakness and divisions of the attackers are well known, the strategies of social and political defense remain unexplored” (Maier, Recasting Bourgeois Europe, 1988: 4). This chapter investigates how employers organized to defend these fortifications and responded to the challenges of the labour movement, from the turn of the twentieth century to the early 1920s. Around 1900 throughout Europe, employers facing labour militancy founded powerful local and national employers’ associations. Among other things these associations constituted strike insurances, shared blacklists of unionized workers and provided strikebreakers when needed. While the foundation of these associations has been studied for most national cases the transnational exchanges that inspired these foundations have remained little studied. In comparison to the rich literature available on the international dimension of labour militancy the current state of the literature on employers’ organisations does not enable to apprehend the depth of these transnational exchanges among employers. The chapter shows that associations met internationally in congresses and conferences, as well as through key individuals acting as transnational brokers. Key employers learned from one another and diffused strong anti-labour ideology and practices all over Europe. After WWI, in the context of generalized social uprising, those exchanges paved the way for the foundation of the International Organisation of Industrial Employers, which was to become an Internationale in the employers’ camp.