Labor Issues


This compilation features books of the Central European University Press, published since its establishment in 1993, that have some relevance to labor in a historical dimension. After the latest releases, titles in the backlist are arranged by content: contemporary topics are on top, older themes below. For more substantial information about the content and availability, please click on the covers of the book, or on the links inserted into the citations.

“In 1870, Great Britain had the shortest work week in Western Europe. By World War I, the average work schedule in Western Europe had already dropped below sixty hours per week.”—from a comparative analysis of economic conditions.
“At the beginning of the 20th century, employers rarely offered paid vacations, and there were barely any paid holidays.”
“The half-day Saturday appeared after World War I and began to spread in the 1930s; then, decades later, starting in the 1960s, the five-day work week was realized in most Western European countries.”
“Corporatist arrangements functioned most effectively in Austria, the Benelux countries, Switzerland, West Germany, and the Scandinavian countries. The governments of France and Italy intervened directly in wage negotiations, while in the United Kingdom and Ireland, collective bargaining was fully decentralized. Cooperation between employers and labor would not have been possible without the commitment of governments to social welfare.”

“In the Kladno Steelworks, when worker enthusiasm for socialist competitions was lacking, the children of steelworkers were called upon to ask their fathers why they had not yet been named the best worker.”—from a book on labor under communism.
Stakhanovites in Soviet parlance represented ‘labor heroism’ in the socialist state, but ‘making workers’ could not be separated from managing those that were actually on hand. The factory walls were porous, and people’s life strategies crept in.”
“Between 1958 and 1969 there were more than 1,500 work stoppages, predominantly occurring in the most prosperous northern republics of Slovenia and Croatia.”
“The strike of 1977 in the Jiu Valley bears striking resemblance to the British strike of 1974 and the United States coal miners’ strike in 1977–78. All three were the result of rank and file discontent, and all managed to force both the state and coal companies to the negotiating table by threatening the energy supply.”

“A market system with ‘free’ wage labor (in contrast to slavery) always entails some missing futures markets for future labor power. Otherwise the worker would be bonded by contracts for life.”—from a collection of essays on command economies.
“Under a market system with employment contracts, there can never be a complete set of markets for labor power. Although capitalism has meant a huge extension of property and markets, and it has made labor power a widespread commodity, it has also, by freeing labor from servitude, sustained missing markets for labor futures.”
“If the employer spends money on employee training and skill development, then this investment is lost when the worker leaves. As a result, without compensatory arrangements, employers might under-invest in human learning and education.”

Books on issues of labor from CEU Press backlist:

Trimming the Sails

“In a simplistic approach, if trade unions are large and encompassing, the demand for a wage increase will remain moderate.”

“In countries such as Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland or Austria, social partners are highly concerned with other macroeconomic consequences of tax increase such as the rate of inflation or economic growth.”

“It is highly unlikely that Central and Eastern European countries can adopt an effectively working social pact: (i) strong state versus weak and often fragmented interest organizations; (ii) the almost perfect lack of sectoral level collective bargaining; (iii) the lack of interest of employers in a strengthened system of wage negotiations.”

Divide and Pacify

“The intensity of labor unrest seems to depend on the presence of militant workers as well as on the existence of influential trade unions that played a role in toppling communism only to turn increasingly populist.”

“The working-class approach is of limited use in the postcommunist Central Europe.”

"Vanhuysse explores the reasons for the low level of labor strikes and reform protests in postcommunist Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland. His time frame is 1989-96, and he utilizes quantitative data in a useful way in generating his conclusions. Summing up: Recommended." (Choice)

Women on the Polish Labor Market

This collection of essays has increasing historic and archival significance about labor conditions in the early postcommunist transition period.

"Gender differences are shown to be pervasive and also to vary across other long extant and persisting dimensions of inequality such as territorial divisions of Poland, industries and branches of the economy, and city versus countryside.” (Slavic Review)

Divide, Provide and Rule

“This book offers a decidedly critical view of the elites of that period, who succeeded in avoiding responsibility for a significant part of the social costs of industrialization.” (Slavic Review)

"In the Kingdom of Hungary, with its population of 18 million and spanning a territory far larger than present day Hungary, 33 percent of the labor force outside primary production, but less than six percent of the overall population enjoyed state health insurance.”

„Developments towards a more socially integrative poverty policy, like reforms aimed at social inclusion and a more far-reaching state social policy, bore only limited fruit.”