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What do unions do in times of economic crisis? Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe

What do unions do in times of economic crisis? Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe
What do unions do in times of economic crisis? Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe
Over the last two decades, trade union membership in Central and Eastern Europe has been in continuous decline and there is a common perception that trade unions in the region are weak. However, little is known about the actual relevance of trade unions for individual workers in the post-socialist world. We explore the role that trade unions played in protecting their members from the negative effects of the global economic crisis. Using data for twenty one post-socialist countries from the Life in Transition-2 survey, we find that trade union members were less likely than similar non-members to lose their jobs during the crisis. This beneficial effect of trade union membership was more pronounced in countries which were hit by the crisis harder. At the same time, union members were more likely to experience a wage reduction, suggesting that unions were engaged in concession bargaining. Overall, our results challenge the common view that trade unions in the post-socialist countries are weak and irrelevant.
trade unions, central and eastern europe, post-socialist, crisis, concession bargaining
0959-6801
81-96
Veliziotis, M.
e43806b3-fdb5-494b-a624-04a5227d2fad
Ivlevs, A.
e247224d-88cb-4bbd-b69d-e48e326cdc07
Veliziotis, M.
e43806b3-fdb5-494b-a624-04a5227d2fad
Ivlevs, A.
e247224d-88cb-4bbd-b69d-e48e326cdc07

Veliziotis, M. and Ivlevs, A. (2017) What do unions do in times of economic crisis? Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe. European Journal of Industrial Relations, 23 (1), 81-96. (doi:10.1177/0959680116672281).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Over the last two decades, trade union membership in Central and Eastern Europe has been in continuous decline and there is a common perception that trade unions in the region are weak. However, little is known about the actual relevance of trade unions for individual workers in the post-socialist world. We explore the role that trade unions played in protecting their members from the negative effects of the global economic crisis. Using data for twenty one post-socialist countries from the Life in Transition-2 survey, we find that trade union members were less likely than similar non-members to lose their jobs during the crisis. This beneficial effect of trade union membership was more pronounced in countries which were hit by the crisis harder. At the same time, union members were more likely to experience a wage reduction, suggesting that unions were engaged in concession bargaining. Overall, our results challenge the common view that trade unions in the post-socialist countries are weak and irrelevant.

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Accepted/In Press date: 1 March 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 11 October 2016
Published date: 1 March 2017
Keywords: trade unions, central and eastern europe, post-socialist, crisis, concession bargaining
Organisations: Southampton Business School

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 397229
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/397229
ISSN: 0959-6801
PURE UUID: 2df7a3a0-3a8a-4a7a-a5d4-b7413ea99e6f
ORCID for M. Veliziotis: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-2245-587X

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Date deposited: 01 Jul 2016 12:53
Last modified: 28 Feb 2020 01:34

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