The Transformation of Labour Relations: Restructuring and Privatization in Eastern Europe and Russia

By J. E. M. Thirkell; K. Petkov et al. | Go to book overview

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The Transformation of Labour Relations: Political and Economic Contexts

The function of this chapter is to situate developments in labour relations in their broader national, political, and economic contexts. The scope for reform of the labour-relations model is highly contingent upon the prevailing political and economic environment, although the influence is not all in one direction. A basic assumption behind neo-liberal models of 'transition' is that the change in regime to a liberal market model will result in the depoliticiza tion of labour relations and the withdrawal of the state from enterprise administration and management. In this sense, major changes in labour relations are seen as logically subsequent to other political and economic change. This chapter explores the validity of such assumptions; the discussion is organized in three parts. The first section aims to explain, briefly, the nature of the Soviet model of labour relations and its dependence on the economic and political structures of the Soviet model of socialism. This model, developed in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, was imposed on the countries of Central and Eastern Europe after the Second World War. However, especially during the 1980s, there were variations in the patterns of development between countries and this had some influence on the development of their economies and politics after the political changes and impacts upon their labour relations. The second section aims to show how the development of political pluralism and the market economy has been influenced by the imposition of the neo-liberal model of economic transformation. The imposition of this model was a process fostered by the IFI (as discussed in Chapter 3), but also by key groups of economists and politicians within the countries themselves. There were a number of principal elements in this model: macroeconomic stabilization, the development of institutions suitable for a market economy, including privat ization of state property, and restructuring and diversifying the economy; however, the implementation of the model varied from country to country. In this section each country is treated as an individual case, showing the strategic choices and turning points in the patterns of development and the differences between the countries. The third section concludes by comparing the patterns of development in the different countries.


THE SOVIET MODEL OF LABOUR RELATIONS

The Soviet model of labour relations was transferred to and imposed on the countries of Eastern Europe in the late 1940s and there was a similar, though

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