Addressing the debate regarding the impact of the Great Recession on changing union strategies in post-socialist Europe, our analysis, published in European Journal of Industrial relations, shows that in Croatia and Serbia the crisis, while depressing strike numbers, was nevertheless met with substantial union resistance. Developing a paired comparison and relying on protest event data for the period 2000–2017, we argue that the differences among the two countries’ respective varieties of capitalism drive divergent union strategies described as social movement unionism. In Serbia, the role of unions in protests articulating workers’ demands remained more central and unions were overall more present in the protest arena, while in Croatia, unions have exhibited stronger propensity to forge alliances and adopt innovative policy strategies. While taking on board scholarship that portrays social movement unionism as signalling union weakness, we argue that strategies which increase union mobilization capacity may also be understood as increasing union resilience in changing social circumstances.
Authors: Danijela Dolenec, Daniela Širinić, Ana Balković