Trade Unions and Precarious Employment in Eastern Europe
It is based on qualitative interviews with trade union officials conducted in 2015, focusing on developments since 2008 in the following sectors: construction, healthcare, metal, retail and temporary agency work. The preliminary findings confirm that there has been an overall increase in work precariousness, particularly by employing temporary agency workers, outsourcing and using part-time contracts as a disguise for full-time contracts to pay lower payroll taxes. Unlike in most old EU member states, one of the main causes of work precariousness in Eastern Europe is the low wage for employees on standard full-time contracts, which is also the case in Greece. Trade unions’ approaches to precarious workers varied both across countries and across sectors within each country, ranging from unions’ organizing temporary agency workers to exclusion of precarious workers. The paper identifies and discusses the rationale for the selected unions’ approaches to precarious work, the instruments used to fight against it and the implications of those approaches for unions.