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

Ivlevs, Artjoms; Veliziotis, Michail


Michail Veliziotis


© 2016, © The Author(s) 2016. Over the last two decades, trade union membership in Central and Eastern Europe has been in continuous decline, and unions in the region are generally considered 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 unions played in protecting their members from the negative effects of the global economic crisis. Using data for 21 post-socialist countries from the Life in Transition-2 survey, we find that union members were less likely than comparable non-members to lose their jobs during the crisis. This beneficial effect of union membership was particularly pronounced in countries which were hardest hit by the crisis. At the same time, union members were more likely to experience wage reductions, suggesting that unions were engaged in concession bargaining. Overall, our results challenge the common view that unions in the post-socialist countries are irrelevant.


Ivlevs, A., & Veliziotis, M. (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.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 1, 2016
Online Publication Date Oct 12, 2016
Publication Date Mar 1, 2017
Journal European Journal of Industrial Relations
Print ISSN 0959-6801
Electronic ISSN 1461-7129
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 1
Pages 81-96
Keywords trade unions, transition, Eastern Europe
Public URL
Publisher URL


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