LABOUR RELATIONS IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

Date of publication: 
11/30/2011

The aims of this report are threefold. The first is to map how much information can be obtained on the labour markets in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) in order to proceed with analyzing the labour market policies and the growth models in the region. Secondly, while some comparative data can be obtained through international databases, these are often incomplete or not fully up to date. We therefore select a sample of countries (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) to represent the broad geographic diversity of the region and for these we obtained data that is more detailed and more up to date compared to what is available from existing international databases. Thirdly, we organize some of this information into brief country profiles and a common profile for the region. This provides a handy, up-to-date summary of the state of collective bargaining and other aspects of labour relations and their legal context in these countries and allows us to posit some hypotheses for further research. Why are we interested specifically in the countries in Central and Eastern Europe? These countries seem to be in a “low innovation, low wage equilibrium” (Independent Evaluation Group. 2007). In addition, we might see in a new light the application of some key normative concepts featuring prominently in EU policy debates such as flexicurity and transitional labour markets (TLM). The task here is therefore to open up the black box of labour markets in the new member states by researching labour relations in the region. Overall, CEE countries defy an easy stereotype or model with regard to the labour relations and their wider context. While collective labour relations are quite liberalized, individual labour relations are not, but there is also relatively low presence of atypical forms of labour relations as known from EU-15. However, it can be hypothesized that the role of self-employed and older workers might be to provide flexibility for the labour market. There also seems potential for bifurcation of unemployed, but also parents into “insiders” and “outsiders” – social insurance vs long-term social assistance / paternity benefits. This is worth further investigation.

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