About 35 per cent of the non-independent employed in South Tyrol are organised in trade unions. According to the 1986 Social Survey 16.8 per cent of the population aged 16 and above are members of a trade union. The majority of these are members of the four biggest trade union confederations in the Province (ASGB AGB-CGIL SGB-CISL and SGK-UIL). Some employees in particular those in certain occupations and groups in the public service are members of the so- called autonomous trade union. The trade union CISNAL which is close to he Alleanza Nazionale (formerly MSI-DN) is of little significance in South Tyrol.
The three confederated trade unions AGB (General Confederation of Trade Unions) SGB (South Tyrolese Trade Union Confederation) and SGK (South Tyrolese Trade Union Association) are independent provincial affiliations of the three leading national-level confederations CGIL CISL and UIL and membership is open to all three linguistic groups in South Tyrol. The ASGB (Autonomer Südtiroler Gewerkschaftsbund or South Tyrolese Autonomous Trade Union Confederation) is an association for German and Ladin- speaking employees in South Tyrol.
With Presidential Decree n.58 of 6 January 1978 the ASGB was legally placed on the same footing as the national trade unions. In July 1978 the South Tyrol Provincial Assembly in accordance with the Executive Measures implementing the Autonomy Statute declared the ASGB to be the most representative trade union for workers whose mother-tongues were German or Ladin. The ASGB was founded in September 1964 as an independent organisation representing the interests of South Tyrolese workers. According to information provided by it the ASGB's membership at the end of 1994 was 27 281 which made it the largest trade union in South Tyrol.
The ASGB has 16 sections the biggest being those for construction and timber; metal mining and chemical engineering; agriculture and forestry; trade transport and communications; hotel and tourism; the civil services; local bodies; the health service; old-age pensioners; and schools. Besides its headquarters in Bozen (Bolzano) the ASGB has six district offices in Meran (Merano) Brixen (Bressanone) Bruneck (Brunico) Sterzing (Vipiteno) Schlanders (Silandro) and Neumarkt (Egna) and has its own advice service.
The AGB/CGIL (General Confederation of Labour - South Tyrolese Workers Association) was founded by communist and social-democratic labour leaders at the end of 1945 as a united trade union in which until 1948 the christian and lay wings of the anti-fascist workers movement also participated. In the 1950s and 1960s its membership in South Tyrol mainly involved Italian workers in the heavy industry firms of Bozen (Bolzano) and Meran (Merano).
Since the end of the 1960s this trade union became stronger organisationally with workers and employees from all three ethnic groups. With the protocol adopted by the provincial congress in June 1991 the German and Ladin ethnic groups in the trade union received some degree of autonomy. According to information provided by it in 1994 its membership climbed to 26 258 of which a good third belonged to the German and Ladin ethnic groups.
The AGB/CGIL has 13 sections which together with its 4 district Chambers of Labour in Bruneck (Brunico) Brixen (Bressanone) Bozen (Bolzano) and Meran (Merano) and their outlying branches form the basis of the trade union. The headquarters of the trade union is the South Tyrol Chamber of Labour in Bozen (Bolzano). Of the 13 sections the largest (33 per cent) is that for old-age pensioners. Then come workers in construction and timber civil servants employees in trade and tourism metal workers and workers in the food and agricultural sector. Besides its advice service INCA the AGB/CGIL has at its disposal a number of advice centres in nine places in the Province. With its consumer protection association ECOKONSUM the youth organisation Modern Times the centre for social tourism the legal protection office the tax advice office and the senior citizen organisation the trade union provides a further series of services.
The SGB/CISL (South Tyrolese Trade Union Confederation) was founded on 17 October 1948 in Bozen (Bolzano) as an association for German and Italian workers in South Tyrol and in 1950 joined the national-level CISL (Confederation of Italian Free Trade Unions). Part of the German-speaking membership split off in 1964 with the founding of the ASGB. In the middle of the 1970s after serious internal disputes the provincial organisation was put under the control of a Commissioner.
A reconstruction on inter-ethnic lines was instituted at the end of the 1970s. According to the information provided by it in 1994 the SGB/CISL in South Tyrol had 23 494 members of which more than half had German as their mother-tongue. The members are divided into 17 technical sections of which the largest are those for old-age pensioners schools transport and communications postal services construction and timber metal trade and tourism and public services (the Province and the Post Office). In addition to its headquarters in Bozen (Bolzano) the SGB/CISL has district offices in Meran (Merano) Brixen (Bressanone) Bruneck (Brunico) Sterzing (Vipiteno) Mals (Malles) and Neumarkt (Egna). Among its facilities are an advice service INAS a legal protection and advice bureau and a consumer protection service.
The SGK/UIL (South Tyrolese Trade Union Association) is the provincial organisation of the national-level Italian Union of Labour founded at the beginning of the 1950s which set itself up in 1976 as the UIL/SGK. Until 1976 the UIL was the trade union which was the contractual partner which represented the ASGB at national level in commissions or in the conclusion of collective agreements. According to information provided by it in 1994 the SGK/UIL possessed 8 310 members (47 per cent of which have German as their mother tongue) and is divided into 19 technical sections.
The largest technical section is that for old-age pensioners followed by those for metal workers construction workers and employees in the services sector and the civil service. Attached to the trade union are its advice service ITAL/UIL a tax advice bureau and a service for consumer protection. In addition to its headquarters in Bozen (Bolzano) there are offices in Meran (Merano) Brixen (Bressanone) and Neumarkt (Egna).