The International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF) represents the collective interests of 25 million members in more than 200 unions in 100 countries worldwide. It is a federation of national unions - a union of unions - in the metal industry at world level.
The IMF is one of the largest and oldest of the Global Union Federations (formerly known as International Trade Secretariats). It was founded in Zurich in August 1893. Thirty members of metalworkers' unions from eight countries met in a small Zurich hotel to set up an International Bureau and lay the foundations for international cooperation between all metalworkers' unions of the world.
In 1904, a congress in Amsterdam created an International Metalworkers' Federation to represent the interests of metalworkers in every country. It had at that time 440,000 members. The number of members increased to about 2 million after the First World War but fell during the 1930s. Since the Second World War, the number of members has increased considerably, reaching the present 25 million. Click on IMF Congresses and Development in Membership to get the figures in detail.
Other important years:
In 1957, the IMF opened an office in Tokyo for Japan, and in 1969, the first IMF regional office was opened in New Delhi, India. Today, there are two regional offices in Asia, one in Africa, one in CIS countries and one in Latin America.
In 1966, the first meeting of the World Company Councils for the automobile industry was held in Detroit, USA. Today, Company Council meetings are held for many transnational companies, as the need arises.
In 1982, two white South African affiliates were expelled. The IMF was fully committed to supporting the new independent trade unions in South Africa. This support was strengthened with the opening of a new IMF office in Johannesburg in 1984.
In 1991, the IMF Central Committee decided to admit trade unions from Central and Eastern Europe as affiliates.
In 1993, a 100-point Action Programme was adopted at the IMF Centenary Congress in Zurich, Switzerland.
In 1997, a new Action Programme 1997-2001 was adopted at the Congress in San Francisco, USA, setting goals for the beginning of the century.
In 2001, the 30th IMF Congress was held in Sydney, Australia. A new Action Programme for 2002-2005 was adopted.
In 2002, the IMF signed its first International Framework Agreement for the auto industry, with Volkswagen.
In 2004, the IMF signed its tenth International Framework Agreement.