The aim of this book is to review and explain the impact of political and economic transformation on the labour-relations models of Eastern Europe and Russia. This has been a relatively neglected area of research concern. The literature which exists tends to focus either upon particular trends within specific countries or on comparisons of two or three countries. There is a lack of genuinely comparative discussions based upon trends in a range of countries. This is the second book to arise out of a collaborative research project conducted over a five-year period, 1991-6, which investigated enterprise-level changes in labour relations in Eastern Europe and Russia. The original research design and methodology were agreed by the international research team at the beginning of the project. The empirical research was based upon in-depth enterprise case studies in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, and the Siberian region of Russia. The project was funded by a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council under its East-West Initiative and has provided an unique opportunity for genuinely comparative research into contemporary labour-relations changes in Eastern Europe and Russia.
This volume moves beyond the task of describing and analysing changes within each of the countries to address the fundamental questions of similarities and differences in the ways in which labour-relations models of Eastern Europe are evolving; the approach is thematic, considering, in turn: the political and economic legacy and context for transformation; the role of international institutions in economic reform strategy; patterns of privatization and ownership change; trade unions; distribution and collective bargaining; enterprise strategy, and foreign ownership. In so doing the discussion links changes at the national or societal level to patterns of change and development at the level of the individual enterprise, another relatively neglected area. The volume benefits greatly from the fact that it is a collaboration between insiders and outsiders to the change processes being analysed. Many of those involved in the research are specialists who have been involved in tracking developments in labour relations in the individual countries since the 1970s. This expertise has been especially valuable in understanding the nature of labour-relations legacies and their impact upon current developments (see the discussion in Chapter 1). The authors of the present volume are indebted both to the high quality of research from all those involved in the original project (see Appendix A) and to the considerable intellectual stimulation from working with such a distinguished team. In particular the authors wish to acknowledge the invaluable contribution of the following: Ludovit Cziria, Michał Federowicz, Vladimir Gerchikov, Grigor Gradev, Lajos Hethy, Wiesława Kozek, Richard Scase, Ferenc Ternovszky, and Witold Morawski.