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Labor Relations in Europe: A History of Issues and Developments.

Labor Relations in Europe: A History of Issues and Developments. By Hans Slomp. New York, Greenwood Press, 1990. 241 pp. $45.

Perestrioka, glasnost, the demolition of the Berlin Wall, and free and democratic elections throughout most of Eastern Europe thrust the revolutionary changes into the headlines of the American media. At the same time, a much quieter revolution gestated in Western Europe as 1992 and the removal of internal trade barriers grows closer. These events will change the labor relations face of Europe and kindle American interest in the historical issues and developments of European labor relations.

Traditionally, academic analysis of European labor can be divided into two major theoretical models: descriptive examinations and case studies of the developments of a particular national labor movement characterizes continental studies, while the Anglo-Saxon/ American approach emphasizes theoretical and comparative surveys. Drawing on both approaches, Hans Slomp presents a view of the similarities and common developments of the continent's labor relations as practiced by employers and/or their associations on the one hand and trade unions on the other.

Rather than providing a formula for a labor relations system for the European community, the author prepared a general introduction to European labor relations. Slomp structures the chapters to cover a specific period and examines both the form and content of labor relations in that period. Chapters, therefore, change with important shifts in the economic and political conditions that are common throughout the continent. The book begins with the rise of industrial labor and contains such chapter titles as: "The First World War and its Aftermath"; "Bargaining in the 1950's and 1960's"; "Labor Relations in Eastern Europe since 1948"; and "Eastern and Western Europe in the 1980's."

In the early industrial era, the author divides Europe into three models of unionism and correspondingly three models of labor relations. First, Marxist unionism engendered the German model of labor relations which gained widespread acceptance in the northern part of the continent, including the Low Countries and Scandinavia as well as Germany and Austria. This model is characterized by organization and parliamentary action and early attempts to gain collective contracts at the industry level. The German model found unions and Socialist parties in a particular country pressuring parliament for specific regulations and legislation.

Second, anarchistic unionism engendered the French model of labor relations which gained acceptance along the Mediterranean, notably in Spain and parts of Italy and France. Unlike the German model, the French focused on protest, not organization. While many unions in the French model countries had no choice but to address the state in the face of unwilling employers, those unions expressed no interest in piecemeal reform. Legislative issues were opportunities to organize protests in the form of general strikes.

The British model represented the third identifiable type of labor relations prior to World War I. Confined to the British Isles, unions in this model did not claim to represent workers as a class nor did they see their role as organizers and mobilizers of workers for political purposes. Therefore, the British model found craft unions eschewing political activity and bargaining collectively with employers attempting to manage labor conditions through job placements and the closed shop.

With the rise of the Soviet Union after World War I, the fourth labor relations model developed. In the Soviet model, unions exhort workers to increase productivity through greater industrial discipline. Furthermore, unions acted as a "transmission belt" in the service of the Communist Party, providing a loyal and willing following. Labor conditions remained the responsibility of the government (that is, the Communist Party) alone. Until World War II, the Soviet Union was the only country with this model. In the aftermath of the war, however, their client states also assumed this model for labor relations.

The post-World War II era witnessed the development of the Yugoslavian concept of self-management and this became the fifth model of European labor relations. In this model, unions function much less as a transmission belt for the party than in the Soviet model. Unions did stress increased productivity and wage moderation, but had more autonomy from the government. While the Yugoslav model shares with the Soviet model the party's control of labor relations, there exists more room for both union and worker initiative in the process. For example, at the enterprise level, the party and the union actually share power of the works councils.

Where appropriate, each chapter examines and compares the five models of labor relations, focusing on how they adapted to the social, economic, and political changes affecting the continent during that period. This format provides both an outline for the book and the thread of continuity that holds the work together. With the radical changes that have occurred in Europe during the past several years, the emergence of new model(s) of labor relations will draw on the traditions of the five models described by the author.

Given the goal of writing a general introductory work, the author provides no footnotes and cites in the bibliography only general national surveys. The text consists more or less of common knowledge. Unfortunately, the language used in writing this work is not of common knowledge. Because English is not the author's first language, some passages may be difficult for introductory level college students to follow. Nevertheless, the content of the book is very timely. The format provides a much needed historical survey of European labor relations.

- Richard E. Dwyer

Director, Training and Education

Carpenter's National Health and

Safety Fund

Carson and Taylor awarded Shiskin prize

Carol A. Carson of the Bureau of Economic Analysis and Stephen P. Taylor of the Federal Reserve Board received the 12th annual Julius Shiskin Award for Economic Statistics.

Carson, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Economic Analysis, was selected for her outstanding leadership role in developing and refining die economic statistical data base of the United States, and for her contributions to the development of the revised United Nations System of National Accounts.

Taylor, retired from the Federal Reserve Board, was recognized for his outstanding work in developing and perfecting the U.S. Flow of Funds Accounts and using them to interpret the behavior of financial markets, as well as for his contributions to the development of data management techniques, large scale spreadsheet computer programs, and seasonal adjustment techniques for components of Flow of Funds Accounts.

The presentation was made at the Washington Statistical Society's annual dinner in June, along with an honorarium of $500.

The award is named in honor of the ninth U.S. Commissioner of Labor Statistics. It is designed to honor unusually original and important contributions in the development of economic statistics or in the use of economic statistics in interpreting the economy. Participating organizations in the program are the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of the Census, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Office of Management and Budget, National Bureau of Economic Research, National Association of Business Economists, and the Washington Statistical Society. The late Commisioner Shiskin was associated with all of these organizations in his long career.
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Author:Dwyer, Richard E.
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Aug 1, 1991
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