International NGOs and unions in the South: worlds apart or allies in the struggle?

In the early 1980s, support for trade unions was a significant component of Oxfam GB's programmes in various parts of the world, most notably Central America and South Africa. In Central America, this was motivated both because organised labour played an important role in popular movements that were pressing for equitable political settlements to the wars ravaging the region, and because unions as such, as well as their members and leaders, were the targets of repression and political violence. This article explores the background to the rise in funding for unions in Honduras, reflects on this experience, and discusses some of the factors that might change a potentially awkward donor-recipient relationship to one of dialogue and solidarity.