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.

“The concept of empowering women through employment was rooted in pre-WWII feminist thought, but it could not come into being until the era of People’s Poland.”—from Reassessing Communism
“The ‘proletarian turn’ in 1948-1949 was an important element of the Party—including state women’s organizations—moving on to another stage of activity. The ‘new stage’ meant intensified preparations for the activation of women on the labor market, which was furthered through the development of professional training, popularization of the idea of competitiveness, and placing women in various professional positions.”
“The protest of workers from the Joseph Stalin Metal Works in Poznan in June 1956, was based mainly on economic and labor considerations, including the issue of reduced wages as a result of extremely high production quantity demands, the problem of unpaid overtime, unjustly calculated payroll tax, as well as generally poor working conditions inconsistent with health and safety standards.”

“Many on the European left were fascinated with the Yugoslav model of self-management, a potentially viable ‘third way’ between Western-style capitalisms and Soviet-style planned economies.”—from Making and Breaking the Yugoslav Working Class
“By introducing workers’ self-management, the Yugoslav communists hoped to put an end to mass mobilizations of peasants into the industry and allow for a smaller, but more settled, core of urban proletariat to appear.”
“Manual workers tended to contrast the privileges of functionaries in their surroundings to the idealized image of communists of the past or the virtues of the highest party leadership. The popular nature of the WWII Partisan movement, and the populist rule of Josip Broz Tito, gave credence to such views. Workers’ allegiance was not to the party, but to Tito and the general values of the revolution.”
“Instances of public riots during workers’ protests at the San Marco shipyard in Trieste seem significant for the strikes in Rijeka and Koper in 1966, in 1968, and in 1969.”

“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 Labor in State-Socialist Europe
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.”

Books on issues of labor from CEU Press backlist:

“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 Systems, Institutions, and Values in East and West
“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.”

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

“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.”—from Divide and Pacify
“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)

“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 Austerities and Aspirations
“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 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.”—from Divide, Provide and Rule
„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.”
“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)

This collection of essays has increasing historic and archival significance about labor conditions in the early postcommunist transition period.—Women on the Polish Labor Market
"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)