Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : Trade unions have been the object of sustained critique coming from across the political spectrum for several decades now. Based on a discourse theoretical analysis of articles in three Dutch-speaking Belgian newspapers, published in two periods of social protest in 2014 and 2016, this article identifies six strands of critique: (1) critiques that label unions as conservative anachronisms that are out of sync with the realities of our times; (2) critiques that psychologize unions as egoistic, irresponsible and child-like actors; (3) critiques that criminalize unions as vandals, hostage takers or terrorists; (4) critiques that oppose unions to a homogenized general interest; (5) metadiscursive critiques of unions’ discursive practices; and (6) metapolitical critiques that problematize unions as polarizing and ‘political’ actors. These six strands of critique get articulated through discursive logics that operate within and across texts, newspapers and voices. Together they constitute a heterogenous but relatively consonant polyphonic discourse that challenges trade unions and their right to strike. This discourse has metapolitical implications for the debate on the mode(s) of politics that can legitimately be practiced by civil society actors.