The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) was set up in 1949 and now has 215 affiliated organizations in 145 countries and territories on all five continents, with a membership of 125 million. It is a confederation of national trade union centres, each of which links together trade unions of that particular country. The ICFTU cooperates closely with the International Labour Organization and has consultative status with the United Nation's Economic and Social Council.
The present book is the first history to be written of this important organization. A team of researchers describes the development of the ICFTU's precursors (the International Secretariat of National Trade Union Centres, the International Federation of Trade Unions, and the early World Federation of Trade Unions), and reconstructs the complicated history of the ICFTU itself, from its origins during the Cold War, through anti-colonial struggles, European unification, international campaigns against Apartheid and many other issues. A final chapter discusses the organization's prospects in the twenty-first century.