- Emigration and labour shortages: an opportunity for trade unions in new member states?
- European Journal of Industrial Relations
- Volume | Issue number
- 17 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Emigration from the post-socialist states which joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 has reduced unemployment rates and created shortages of some skills. This should provide opportunities for trade unions to improve their situation, by facilitating union organizing and strengthening their bargaining position. Have unions grasped these opportunities? We adopt an actor-centred perspective to examine their strategies and actions in the public health care sector — strongly affected by migration — in Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. We argue that variation in union strategies depends mainly on the interplay of union capacities and state strategies. Slovak unions used the established sectoral bargaining system to obtain wage increases and to consolidate the bargaining machinery. In contrast, Polish unions gained wage increases through industrial action. Hungarian health care unions mostly failed to seize migration-related opportunities.
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