From War Front to Home Front: The Role of Company-Based War Veterans' Organizations in Industrial Relations in Croatia

Thursday, 14 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 31 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Dragan BAGIC, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Kruno KARDOV, University of Zagreb, Croatia
"Headquarters for the defense of company" presents a unique phenomenon in the system of industrial relations in Croatia (Grdešić, 2007). This military inspired form of self-organization of workers in contesting the privatization, bankruptcies and other potentially harmful decisions on the company's operations has become the dominant repertoire of workers' protests in post-war Croatia. Several case studies showed that in their establishment and operation an important role, along with trade unions as traditional representatives of workers' interests, played the veterans' associations. Although the war veterans are one of the most powerful groups in Croatian society, comprising over 10 percent of the entire population, and in spite of the public salience of company-based war veterans' organizations, their role in labor relations has not been previously studied. Thus, the aim of this paper is to explore the role of veterans' organizations in commercial businesses, their modes of operation and linkages with trade unions. The paper is based on an analysis of key structural elements of veterans' organizations and semi-structured interviews conducted with representatives of company-based veterans' organizations and trade unions that operate in the same companies. The analysis will focus on the nature, goals and main visions and divisions of these organizations as well as their possible conflicting and/or productive interests and relations. By unfolding the matrix of relationship between these two contrasting paradigmatic figures, i.e. war veterans and workers as subjects with distinctive positions in different fields of political and economic division of labor, we will provide some important insights into nature of hegemonic relations in transitional societies.