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Ivana Dobrivojević Tomić, PhD
Institut of Contemporary History
Belgrade, Republic of Serbia


HARBINGERS OF CRISIS. LABOUR STRIKES IN YUGOSLAVIA (1958-1974)

Vol. XXXVII, 1/2019, pp. 161–174
https://doi.org/10.29362/ist20veka.2019.1.dob.161-174

 

ABSTRACT/RESUME:

The relative liberalization of the Yugoslav socialist economy and its limited transition to market economy have led to an increase in social differences. A sizable segment of manufacturing workers, employed in non-profitable enterprises, lived in difficult material conditions. Unrealistic expectations and promises of a bright socialist future have created an atmosphere in which, starting in 1958, the worker strikes became one of the main means of pressure on political elite. Blue collar workers represented the majority of strikers. Some of the main causes of strikes were: reduced and irregular salaries, increased norms, reduced holidays and holiday compensation, restricting conditions for a sick leave, abolishing or reducing compensation for commuting and food, laying off workers in production as technology redundancies. Moreover, the belief that Workers’ Councils served only as a decoration and the reason that workers did not take part in making important decisions in companies significantly contributed to worker’s dissatisfaction. Due to a quick response of the municipal, district and republic authorities that mostly accepted labor demands, the strikes were short. The number of strikers was steadily rising. However, the rise of workers’ protests did not contribute to their greater efficiency, since the demands of strikers during the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s were being promptly accepted, while in the 1980s only demands of those workers vital for the system were met.

 

KEYWORDS: workers, strikes, economic policy, standard of living, socialist Yugoslavia

 

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