Trade Unions in Central East and South East Europe – Modernization or Sink into Oblivion?

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 09:15
Location: Hörsaal 31 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Jochen THOLEN, Institute Labour and Economy - University of Bremen, Germany
Before 1990 (Fall of the Berlin Wall), the societies in CEE and SEE countries were characterized by a planned economy and a de facto one party dictatorship. Then these societies tried to overcome both societal characteristics voluntary.

Theoretical background: Insofar they had to cope with a double process of transformation:

  • from a planned society towards a capitalistic market economy
  • from dictatorship towards a (liberal) democracy.

In principle this implementation of civil society´s  structures needs the recognition of and cooperation with the social partners, especially employees and their representations.

Thesis: But looking to the current situation, in CEE and SEE countries there is race between the (slow) reform efforts by the trade unions and the process of their insignificance. In the moment it is totally open, who will win this race.

Empirical evidence comes from (empirical) studies of Trade Unions and Labour Relations in almost all CEE and SEE countries (with the exception of Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro as well as former SU countries), carried out between 2009 and 2013. Partly these studies were organized as single studie (comprising only one country), partly as comparisons between countries, and in two cases as panel studies (consecutively with a timed interval). Financial funds came from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation/Germany, three major industrial trade unions in Germany and one major Dutch trade union.