The Demise of Social Partnership, or a Balanced Recovery? The Crisis and Collective Bargaining in Slovakia

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The Demise of Social Partnership, or a Balanced Recovery? The Crisis and Collective Bargaining in Slovakia
Marta Kahancová1


This paper analyzes the crisis effects on processes, outcomes and institutions of collective bargaining in national and sectoral negotiations in the Slovak Republic. It argues that the crisis did not alter the long-term trend of gradual demise of social partnership and trade union marginalization at the national level. At the sector level in the metal and healthcare sectors – two highly organized sectors from the public and private domains of the Slovak economy – the crisis helped consolidating bargaining institutions, but did not produce an improved trade union position through bargaining outcomes. Consolidation has been reached through differing procedural changes to bargaining in each sector: intensified bargaining due to social partners’ common interest in anti-crisis employment measures (in metal); and associational strength of trade unions and employers’ organizations despite escalating post-crisis wage conflicts (in healthcare). Sector-level bargaining thus contributed to a balanced recovery from the crisis more than national-level social dialogue.

In the past 20 years, Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries underwent major economic, political and societal changes. In Slovakia, the inflow of foreign investments brought economic and employment growth. Some large foreign employers helped stabilizing the Slovak bargaining system. However, the 2008 outburst of the crisis put the established bargaining system under pressure because of diverging interests of employers (employment flexibility), trade unions (employment security) and the government (employment stability). The aim of this paper is to analyze how the crisis affected collective bargaining processes, substantive outcomes and institutions at national and sectoral levels.
The focus on national and sectoral levels is substantiated because of contested tripartism and simultaneously persistent sector-level bargaining in key economic sectors. Bohle and Greskovits (2012) argued that Slovakia underwent a gradual labour exclusion from national-level policymaking. Other authors characterized this trend across CEE as ‘illusory corporatism’ because the formal existence of tripartite bodies failed to produce policymaking with systematic trade union involvement (Avdagic 2005, Mailand and Due 2004, Ost 2000, ICTWSS database 2011, Stein 2002). However, empirical evidence from sector-level studies documents that Slovakia has a reasonably established bargaining coordination and decent sector-level organization of employers (Czíria 2007 and 2010, EC 2013).2 Sector-level bargaining is widespread in the public sector, including public healthcare, and in some crucial private sectors, e.g., the metal industry. The aim of this paper is to reconcile these contrasting literatures and explore whether bargaining institutions, procedures and outcomes evolve in a path-dependent way, or whether the crisis interrupted the gradual demise of national-level social partnership while maintaining sector-level bargaining coordination.
The sectoral analysis focuses on two key sectors – metal and healthcare – representing the private and public domains of the Slovak economy. The metal sector, especially the automotive industry, is strategically important for Slovakia’s economy and employment. With 106 automobiles per 1000 residents, in 2007 Slovakia became the world’s largest per capita producer of motor vehicles.3 Due to extensive integration into international markets, the sector is highly exposed to global economic downturns. In contrast, public healthcare has not been affected by crisis through market exposure, but through austerity and long-term reforms, creating divergent interests among healthcare employers and therefore a threat to coordinated bargaining. Despite variation across these sectors in their crisis exposure, they share a high rate of unionization and established sectoral bargaining coordination. It is therefore interesting to explore how the crisis influenced bargaining procedures, outcomes and institutions across these sectors.

Recent evidence suggests that social partnership in Slovakia played an important role in reaching a ‘balanced recovery’ through mediating and overcoming the crisis effects (Czíria 2012). In result, the crisis did not have a major impact on Slovak industrial relations (ibid.). However, this paper argues that crisis effects on bargaining are more complex and vary not only across national and sectoral levels but especially across bargaining institutions, procedures and outcomes.

At the national level, dependence on political support only brought temporary improvements in bargaining outcomes for trade unions (i.e., flat extensions of collective agreements, co-determination in company-level anti-crisis measures and involvement in Labour Code amendments such as the definition of dependent work). While confirming the outcomes-based weakening inclusion of labour in policymaking, formal tripartite institutions remained stable. Bargaining procedures underwent a temporary improvement with the introduction of the Council for Economic Crisis, which was however abolished only a few months later.
At the sector level, the crisis did not undermine coordinated bargaining but contributed to its consolidation in both scrutinized sectors. Instead of accelerated decentralization, bargaining institutions remained stable during the crisis but stability has been reached differently in each sector. In metal, social partners shared an interest in adopting anti-crisis employment measures and therefore remained committed to bargaining coordination instead of opting out of sectoral deals. In healthcare, social partners lacked such common interest but bargaining remained stable because of associational strength of unions and employer organizations. In result, the main changes to bargaining procedures in metal included bargaining intensification, while in healthcare bargaining procedures continued via third party mediation after social partner disputes. From an outcomes perspective, trade unions were involved in adopting sector-specific anti-crisis measures especially in the metal sector. Although unions favour these outcomes, they benefit employers more than unions. In sum, the crisis fuelled changes to sector-level bargaining procedures that helped consolidating bargaining institutions, but did not produce an improved trade union position through bargaining outcomes.
The paper’s findings draw on in-depth interviews and written communication with social partners in 2009-2012 within the FP7 project GUSTO and the EC-sponsored project BARSORI. The author conducted 19 interviews on recent changes to contents and procedures of sectoral collective bargaining and national social dialogue.4 Additional evidence originates from a written questionnaire response of KOZ SR’s vice president on trade union action regarding precarious work, national/local media, statistical information, the ICTWSS database5 and Czíria (2012) providing original evidence from a 2008 survey on social partners’ views on legislative changes to collective bargaining.
The Slovak industrial relations
Since the late 1990s, the Slovak economy underwent a wide-ranging reform path to reach macroeconomic stability and employment growth. Economic growth peaked with a 10.5% real GDP growth in 2007.6 Real wages increased in average by 3.8% in 2007-2008.7 This economic success was accompanied by radical welfare state restructuring that was left without major opposition from the public or trade unions. Several reasons can explain the lack of resistance: first, Slovak citizens aimed at ‘catching up’ with their neighbours and were willing to tolerate austerity (Bohle and Greskovits 2012: 247). Second, the contested position of Slovak tripartism and individual responses of dissatisfied citizens yielded emigration, exit from political participation and the rise of populism (Meardi 2011). The third reason is bargaining decentralization and a declining trade union density (see Figure 1). Since the late 1990s, the established hierarchy of social partners and bargaining institutions accounted for a continuing sectoral bargaining in relevant sectors without regular pattern setting and with weak involvement of peak-level social partners.8 As company bargaining gradually strengthened, enforceability of sector/industry agreements weakened and bargaining coverage has been systematically declining from 51% in 2000 to 40% in 2009 (see Figure 1). The reason is a declining net trade union density (from 67,29% in 1993 to 17,7% in 2008), low organization of employers (net employer density reaching 29.2% in 2008), and a limited use of legal extension mechanisms to increase bargaining coverage.9 Bargaining procedures and coverage vary across sectors, with some sectors being more widely covered by sectoral or multi-employer collective agreements (e.g., metal and healthcare), and some sectors with predominant company/establishment-level bargaining (e.g., agriculture). Wages, employment security and working conditions are the most important bargaining subjects (Czíria 2012).
Figure 1: Union density and bargaining coverage trends*

* Union density rate = net union membership as a proportion of wage and salary earners in employment

Bargaining coverage = employees covered by wage bargaining agreements as a proportion of all wage and salary earners in

employment with the right to bargaining, adjusted according to Traxler (1994)

Source: ICTWSS.
The crisis
The crisis interrupted the positive economic developments in Slovakia: after the 10.5% growth in 2007, real GDP growth only reached 5.8% in 2008 and plummeted at -4.8% in 2009 before recovering at 4.5% in 2010.10 Given the strong (automotive) industry orientation of the Slovak economy, the main crisis effects concentrated at production and labour markets. Industrial production declined by 29% and the production of motor vehicles in particular by almost 20% between 2008 and 2009 before fully recovering in 2010.11
Such decline reinforced employer restructuring with consequences for employment and collective bargaining. First, employers adjusted through dismissals (external flexibility) that reverted the pre-2008 trend of declining unemployment. Unemployment grew from 9.5% (2008) to 14.4% (2010) (see Figure 2). Although reported collective dismissals increased in 2008 and 2009 (see Table 1), firms preferred piecemeal dismissals to mass dismissals.12
Figure 2: Unemployment rate in Slovakia

Source: Slovak Statistical Office (ŠÚ SR).

Table 1: Collective dismissals in 2007–2010





Number of registered cases





Number of employers concerned





Number of threatened employees





Number of actually dismissed employees





Source: Central Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family (ÚPSVaR), Czíria (2012).
Second, employers opted for working time and work reorganization (internal flexibility). Although the crisis stimulated legal changes to increase hiring/firing flexibility, large companies preferred core workforce training to dismissals (Czíria 2012). Temporary agency work dropped from 55,377 (2008) to 37,074 (2009) employees and continued to further decline.13 The share of part-time employment on total employment also declined. Third, the crisis slowed down the wage growth: the real wage growth reached 3.3% in 2008, dropped to 1.4% in 2009 and slightly recovered at 2.2% in 2010.14
Policy response to the crisis focused on stabilizing employment and stimulating consumption. The 2007 pre-crisis Labour Code amendment introduced the definition of dependent work and limits to prolongation of fixed-term contracts. The government adopted over 60 anti-crisis policy measures including state allowances to employers avoiding dismissals and temporary opt-out clauses from obligatory social security contributions (Czíria 2009a). The most important policy measures include temporary flexible working time accounts (flexikonto) and short-time work (STW), both used predominantly in the car industry after 2009 (Czíria 2012). Flexikonto has been introduced at the company-level at Volkswagen Slovakia before it became subject of sector-level bargaining and the 2009 Labour Code amendment. The implementation of flexikonto is subject to agreement with trade unions. STW schemes aimed at avoiding dismissals through shortening the working day or week.
The crisis and national-level collective bargaining
The pro-labour government (2006-2010), which introduced the above anti-crisis measures, also fostered the involvement of social partners in policymaking. Anti-crisis measures were subject to tripartite consultations within the Economic and Social Council (Hospodárska a sociálna rada, HSR). Social partners were also involved in the Council for Economic Crisis, a new advisory body to the government (Czíria 2010). Through an openly declared cooperation with the leading political party Smer, trade unions benefitted from several gains, including their co-determination right on flexikonto, the introduction of horizontal extensions to sectoral collective agreements, and Labour Code amendments such as the definition of dependent employment.
The crisis therefore initially seemed to strengthened tripartite social dialogue in procedural terms. However, the Council for Economic Crisis was abolished already in late 2009 and formal tripartite procedures resembled the pre-crisis situation. In outcomes, tripartism’s role remained formal and trade union gains were temporary, politically dependent and responsive to government action. Since the government was also under the influence of business lobby, the above union attitude gradually paved the way for more bargaining power for employers. After the 2010 government change trade unions lost political support and thus their main resource in national-level social dialogue. The new government abolished the erga omnes extension mechanism and introduced higher thresholds for trade union representation at the company level.
In sum, while the crisis brought temporary gains to trade unions in terms of outcomes of tripartite negotiations, these gains did not translate into a procedural and institutional strengthening of tripartism. Therefore, we support Bohle and Greskovits (2012) in arguing that labour is facing a gradual marginalization from national-level policymaking. An external shock like the economic crisis failed to revert this long-term trend.
The crisis and sector-level collective bargaining
Czíria (2012: 23-24) argued that sector-level bargaining procedures remained unchanged during the crisis, but the crisis worsened the relations between social partners, with wage setting being the most common reason for conflicts. Compared to other CEE countries, Slovakia underwent the highest relative reductions in post-crisis increases of collectively agreed base wages. The 5.5% increase in 2009 dropped to 2.2% in 2010.15 Table 2 reports the average nominal wage increases (in company-level agreements) in selected sectors. In metal, the largest drop occurred immediately in 2009 because of a flexible production response to world markets. In healthcare, post-crisis austerity measures postponed the greatest drop in collective wage increases until 2010.
Table 2 Average collectively agreed nominal wage increases in %





Mechanical engineering and electric industries





Chemical industry










Commerce and tourism





Public administration





Health and social care










Source: Information System of Working Conditions (Informačný systém o pracovných podmienkach, ISPP) in Czíria (2012: 25).

* including metallurgy, ** including the energy sector, *** including municipal services.

While these are important findings, our analysis of metal and healthcare sectors reveals changes to bargaining procedures in each sector. In metal, the crisis fuelled employers’ preferences for individual solutions and simultaneously encouraged bargaining coordination about feasible anti-crisis measures. In result, social partners’ incentives to coordinated bargaining restored sector-level bargaining. In healthcare, escalating wage disputes led to greater use of conflict settlement mechanisms in bargaining. Despite these differences, in both sector we find path-dependent stability in established bargaining institutions.
In bargaining outcomes, Czíria (2012: 24-25) reports wage moderation, work organization changes including less temporary/agency workers, redundancy pay, conflict settlement and application of flexikonto and STW. The number of multi-employer and single-employer agreements only slightly decreased during 2008 – 2010.16 However, our analysis again highlights contrasts between sectors. In metal, social partners’ commitment to sectoral bargaining coordination produced a consensus on adopted anti-crisis measures. Although the outcome favours employers more than unions, unions welcome the continuity in concluding sector-level collective agreements. In healthcare, social partners were unable to reach consensus and bargaining outcomes were settled through third party involvement. These findings derive from original empirical evidence discussed below.
Metal sector bargaining
In 2008-2009, industrial production declined by 16% because of declining export performance.17 Besides steel and electronics, the highly export-oriented manufacturing/car production is the strongest division of the metal sector and has been most crisis affected. Its 20% share in industrial production (2008) dropped slightly in 2009.18 Remarkably car producers did not announce significant dismissals and prioritized other anti-crisis measures, e.g. flexikonto and no temporary agency work or fixed-term contracts.19
The sector is well organized in a single sector-level trade union OZ KOVO and several employers’ associations that bargain with OZ KOVO individually. The main long-term challenge of the sector is bargaining decentralization, fuelled by mergers/splits among employers’ associations, legal changes and the state’ weak role in giving employers incentives to bargaining coordination. Mergers/splits however also had re-centralising effects on the car industry. ZAP SR split from other associations and commissioned the Federation of Mechanical Engineering (Zväz strojárskeho priemyslu, ZSP) to bargain for the whole mechanical engineering subsector.
Despite the long-term bargaining decentralization trend, the crisis did not accelerate decentralization and undermine sector-level bargaining institutions. However, the crisis brought changes to bargaining procedures. Because of employers’ support to revoke horizontal extensions and introduce stricter union representativeness criteria, OZ KOVO’s attitude to employers’ associations worsened during the crisis (Czíria 2012). Overcoming union dissatisfaction and employers’ incentives to opt out from sectoral bargaining and adopt tailor-made anti-crisis measures, social partners found a common stance to negotiate anti-crisis measures. Their common stance relates mainly to employment stability of skilled workforce. Some employers aimed at preserving skilled labour and offered more generous conditions to skilled employees temporarily in flexikonto or STW arrangements. Others increased pressures onto regular employees to involuntarily accept STW. Finally, some employers opted for dismissals of bogus self-employed and agency workers. With OZ KOVO being open to tailored employer preferences, the conclusion of annual or bi-annual collective agreements continued without interruption.
Bargaining outcomes refer to the adoption of anti-crisis provisions in all relevant subsectors: mechanical engineering, electronics, and steel. In mechanical engineering, social partners signed an amendment to the 2008-2009 collective agreement stipulating STW, lockouts with 60% wage compensation, and flexikonto. In the 2010-2011 agreement, social partners reinforced their anti-crisis strategy and included additional stipulations on joint support to legal changes aiming at lowering non-productive employer costs.20 While earlier collective agreements did not include provisions on temporary employment, the 2010-2011 agreement stipulates that temporary contracts should not be prolonged and (bogus) self-employment should be minimized. Upon OZ KOVO initiative, similar provisions were agreed in electronics’ and steel industry’s 2010-2011 collective agreements.21
While these outcomes document the social partners’ efforts to actively use sector-level bargaining institutions, these provisions tend to favour employers and fuel a dual labour market, protecting skills and and shifting the burden of production decline onto precarious and less unionized workers. However, the duality does not result from failed trade union effort to protect ‘outsiders’, but from a deliberate strategy of both employers and OZ KOVO.22
In sum, the crisis did not accelerate bargaining decentralization in the metal sector. Within the path-dependent developments and trade union dissatisfaction with employers’ support to anti-union legislative changes, coordinated bargaining continued also during the crisis. Noteworthy changes occurred in bargaining procedures: the social partners’ common stance on anti-crisis measures brought new incentives for strengthened bargaining coordination and an uninterrupted conclusion of collective agreements with anti-crisis stipulations. Bargaining intensified through employers’ and unions’ commitment to coordinate anti-crisis measures; and yielded consolidation to sector-level bargaining institutions. Finally, bargaining outcomes as a deliberate choice of both unions and employers facilitated a growing gap between skilled core employees (given the pre-crisis labour shortages) and employees in precarious jobs.
Healthcare sector bargaining
Until 2005, healthcare was covered by collective agreements for public service signed by national-level social partners. Since 2006, independent sector-specific bargaining applies to healthcare with two sectoral trade unions directly negotiating multi-employer collective agreements with each of the four employers’ associations. Union density reached about 50% and employer density about 80% in 2006, making healthcare one of the best-organized sectors in the economy (Czíria 2009b). Collective agreements cover about 95% of public healthcare employees.
Crisis effects on public healthcare remarkably differ from the metal sector. Instead of direct exposure to overemployment and production decline, the crisis helped to relieve pre-crisis labour shortages (Kaminska and Kahancová 2011) and affected healthcare through public sector austerity measures. Austerity meant that health insurance companies received fewer funds from the state budget, which increased the budget constraints of public healthcare providers (especially smaller hospitals). This situation escalated conflicts in sector-level bargaining where wage increases recurred as the main point of dispute.
Despite the above crisis-induced effects, established bargaining institutions in healthcare did not break down. However, similar to the metal sector, noteworthy changes occurred in bargaining procedures. It has been increasingly difficult to conclude agreements after 2009 because of wage disputes. In the hospital subsector, the unions concluded collective agreements with each of the two employers’ organizations in 2006 and amendments thereto in 2007 and 2008. After this period, social partners bargained regularly but failed to conclude new agreements until mid 2012 when they finally reached an agreement with the Association of Faculty Hospitals (AFN SR) but not with the Association of Hospitals of Slovakia (ANS). Between 2009 and 2012, all negotiations ended in the hands of a dispute settlement institution instead of a direct deal between social partners. These disputes derived from differing social partner perspectives on wage rises. All mediator decisions stipulated lower wage increases than trade unions requested.
The bargaining agenda did not change substantially and covers predominantly wages, working time, pension contributions, dismissal regulation and social fund maintenance. Some broadening in bargaining outcomes is obvious from 2009, e.g., training and lifelong learning, conditions for work-life balance and performance-related pay increases. These provisions are more common in hospitals with lower budget constraints.
In sum, coordinated bargaining in Slovak healthcare shows remarkable stability despite public sector austerity, causing tensions between unions and employers on wage increases. There are also other pressures onto bargaining decentralization, including frequent legal changes, attempts to legally limit trade union codetermination rights and a major reorganization of healthcare employers’ associations. However, because of a strong interest representation structure in healthcare, unions regularly voice their dissatisfaction with these pressures in protests, strikes and government negotiations.23 In result, pressures for bargaining decentralization increased but simultaneously created preconditions for strengthening sector-level bargaining by shifting the entire bargaining responsibility onto healthcare social partners. These opposite forces crystallized in social partners’ hands and sector-level bargaining has not been defeated but strengthened because of the unions’ and employers organizations’ high associational power and greater bargaining responsibilities upon public sector austerity measures. This continuity in bargaining procedures, despite greater third party involvement in reaching post-crisis bargaining outcomes, contributed to consolidation of bargaining institutions.
Conclusions: A balanced recovery through collective bargaining?
Due to a strong industrial focus of the Slovak economy, crisis effects became obvious mainly through output decline, unemployment, and a greater exposure to precarious employment. In contrast, in the public sector, especially in healthcare, the crisis helped to relieve labour shortages but brought serious austerity measures.

How did these effects influence collective bargaining in Slovakia? This paper aimed at uncovering how the crisis influenced collective bargaining procedures, outcomes, and institutions within Slovak industrial relations at the national and sector levels.

We argue that there is a dual pattern in crisis effects on bargaining at the national and sectoral levels, with a declining role of social partnership in mitigating crisis effects through tripartite concertation at the national level on the one hand, and consolidation of sector-level bargaining institutions through coordinated bargaining procedures in the studied sectors on the other hand. Moreover, we argue that the crisis not only had a differential impact on bargaining at the national and sector levels, but also across particular sectors.
At the national level, dependence on political support brought temporary gains to trade unions in bargaining outcomes (horizontal extensions of collective agreements and co-determination in anti-crisis measures and Labour Code amendments). Similarly, bargaining procedures only underwent a temporary improvement. From a long-term perspective, we confirm the path-dependent weakening of social partnership and marginalization of unions in policymaking based on bargaining outcomes (c.f. Bohle and Greskovits 2012), However, the crisis did not accelerate changes to formal tripartite institutions, which show relative stability within path-dependent developments of the overall national industrial relations system.
At the sector level, the crisis did not cause a shock to the established bargaining institutions in either metal or healthcare sectors. Despite remarkably different crisis-induced challenges in each sector (dismissals, STW and flexikonto in metal and wage disputes in healthcare), coordinated bargaining was consolidated in both sectors. However, consolidation in bargaining institutions happened through procedural changes to bargaining, which differed across each sector. In metal, the crisis united the social partners in seeking the most feasible anti-crisis measures, which produced more intensive bargaining on collective agreements in mechanical engineering, steel and electronics. This procedural change reinforced social partners’ use of established bargaining channels and thus consolidated bargaining institutions instead of their defeat. In healthcare, pressures for bargaining decentralization originated in public sector austerity measures that shifted bargaining responsibilities onto healthcare social partners and also divided healthcare employers along their budgetary limits. Social partners continued with independent multi-employer bargaining but failed to conclude collective agreements due to escalating wage disputes. Bargaining procedures thus increasingly occurred through third party involvement. However, the strong associational power of healthcare unions and employers’ associations prevented a collapse of coordinated bargaining procedures and consolidated the established bargaining institutions.
From the perspective of bargaining outcomes, unions were part of formulating anti-crisis stipulations (e.g. on temporary employment in the metal sector and on wages in healthcare sector). Most outcomes favour employers (metal) or are based on a mediator’s decision (healthcare); however, unions are satisfied with their role in the bargaining process despite that outcomes did not foster improvements in unions’ position.
We can derive several implications for the future role of collective bargaining and trade unions from the above arguments. First, it is relevant to ask how do developments at the national and sector levels interact. The Slovak case documents that a reasonably established and functioning sector-level bargaining can contribute to a sustainable coordinated bargaining system more than formally established but ‘illusory’ tripartism at the national level. More research is required to test this implication from a long-term perspective on developments in bargaining institutions and more sectors representing the entire economy. Such evidence could revert the argument that tripartism became the hallmark of industrial relations across CEE because it partly compensates for underdeveloped sectoral collective bargaining (c.f. EC 2013, Tatur 1995, Iankova 1998).
The second implication refers to trade union strength in facilitating a balanced recovery from the crisis. From a process-oriented perspective, trade unions are increasingly marginalized from national-level policymaking while they successfully avoided marginalization from sector-level bargaining. Therefore, sectoral unions played a crucial role in a balanced, or coordinated, recovery from the crisis. However, from the perspective of outcomes, unions failed to achieve sustainable gains for workers or for themselves at the national and sector levels. Interestingly and in contrast with the above process-oriented argument, national-level unions succeeded in extending more protection to precarious workers (through the re-definition of dependent employment) than sector-level unions that explicitly sidelined most precarious workers (especially in the metal sector).
Although this paper tried to offer a comparative perspective covering the national and sector-level developments as well as a comparison of two sectors, the remaining caveats are the generalizability of the sector-based arguments to the whole economy, and a difficulty to separate crisis-induced challenges on industrial relations from challenges to the long-term evolution of political economy (e.g., transition, neoliberal policymaking, declining union density across the EU). Slovakia is still considered as a country where the sector is the dominant bargaining level, but there are many sectors with decentralized bargaining. Sectors studied in this paper are crucial for the GDP and employment in Slovakia. Addressing more encompassing sector-level bargaining developments and the above caveats is subject to further research.

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Brngálová, B. and Kahancová, M. (2011) Governing the Metal Sector in Slovakia: Socio-economic and Policy Context, Industrial Relations and the Challenge of Flexibility and Security. FP7 GUSTO Working Paper 6.20.

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Czíria, Ľ. (2009a) Anti-crisis measures help to maintain employment. EIRO Report

Czíria, Ľ. (2009b) Representativeness of the European social partner organizations: Hospitals – Slovakia. EIRO Report

Czíria, Ľ. (2007) Industrial relations developments 2006 — Slovakia. EIRO Report

Euractiv (2009) Kríza otriasa členskými štátmi na východe EU [The Crisis is Hitting EU Member States in the East], in [accessed April 2, 2012].

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Kahancová, M. and Szabó, I. G. (2012) Acting on the Edge of Public Sector: Hospital Corporatization and Collective Bargaining in Hungary and Slovakia. FP7 GUSTO Working Paper 6.20 and CELSI discussion paper 1/2012.

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1 Contact: Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI), Zvolenská 29, 821 09 Bratislava, Slovakia. E-mail The author acknowledges the financial contribution for pursuing this research within the FP7 project GUSTO and the EC-sponsored BARSORI project (project number VS/2010/0811); and constructive comments from two anonymous referees and the authors of other contributions in this volume.

2 Employers’ organization density in Slovakia (proportion of employees in employment), declined from 33% (2002) to 29% (2008). Employers’ organizations are notoriously absent at the sector-level e.g. in Hungary and Poland with predominance of single-employer bargaining patterns. Source: ICTWSS.

3 SARIO Sectoral Report on the Slovak Automotive Industry [accessed 3 September 2010].

4 Three interviews with bargaining experts from the national-level union confederation KOZ SR and employers’ confederations RÚZ and AZZZ; 5 interviews with chief negotiators of the metal sector’s trade union OZ KOVO, 3 interviews with healthcare sector trade union officials (SOZZaSS and LOZ); 8 interviews with employers’ associations and professional chambers’ leaders in metal and healthcare.

5 Database on Institutional Characteristics of Trade Unions, Wage Setting, State Intervention and Social Pacts in 34 countries, 1960-2010; version 3.0 (2011).

6 Eurostat.

7 Slovak Statistical Office (ŠÚ SR).


9 ICTWSS. Net density rates weighted by dependent employment.

10 Eurostat.

11 Eurostat, Brngálová and Kahancová (2011).

12 SME (2009).

13 ÚPSVaR and [accessed August 9, 2011].

14 ŠÚ SR, Slovstat.

15 EIRO: Pay Developments – 2010, in:

16 Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family (multi-employer agreements) and the Information System of Working Conditions (single-employer agreements).

17 Association of Automotive Industry (Združenie automobilového priemyslu SR, ZAP SR)

18 Ibid.

19 EIRO; in [accessed September 14, 2012].

20 See Brngálová and Kahancová (2011: 39) for details.

21 Dismissals are stipulated in the following order: temporary agency workers, subcontractors, self-employed, fixed-term employees, and core employees in case of labour oversupply. Upon recovery, employees should be re-hired in the opposite order

22 Interview OZ Kovo, May 2011.

23 The 2011 campaign of the Doctors’ Trade Union LOZ, involving coordinated job leave threats of doctors in largest hospitals, attracted massive media interests and pushed the government to stipulate higher wages and revoke the planned organizational transformation of hospitals (Kahancová and Szabó 2012).

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