Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Edited by Matthew W. Finkin and Guy Mundlak
Chapter 13: Labor law in transition: From a centrally planned to a free market economy in Central and Eastern Europe
This chapter covers the specifics of countries in Eastern Europe, all of which had been governed by a socialist political system some 20 years ago. A whole generation has grown up since the time of the socialists. However, the labor law systems of these countries were so much affected by the socialist political structure, that even now they retain important features of the past, making them significantly different from the models of ‘capitalist’ labor law. At the same time, all countries of the region have undergone more or less radical neo-liberal economic reforms that have influenced the economy generally, and the systems of labor relations and labor law in particular. The shifts in the labor law started from rather similar socialist starting points. In many ways they moved in the same direction. However, the different path taken in some areas seem to be the most interesting for comparative analysis. This chapter covers three countries – Russia, Poland and Hungary, demonstrating both common points of departure and changes, but also revealing differences that emerged during the years of transition. To fully understand the specifics of the labor law systems in the countries of the region, that is – not just to know what is written in this or other labor law act, but also why is it written and how does it work in practice, it is important to have a basic idea about the socialist origins of the three systems. This will be described in Part 1.
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