Monika Gonser (University of Osnabrück, Germany)
The paper at hand presents the findings of a Ph.D. project. First, it offers a structured comparison of framework conditions of enterprise level industrial relations in the countries observed. Second, it explores the question in how far the results of this comparison can explain the specifically weak effect the collective representation of labor interests has on employee living conditions in these states when compared to other Central and Eastern European countries. Third, it discusses hypotheses that might explain specific Baltic labor weakness on the basis of expert interviews with employee and employer representatives in three sectors, energy and gas, transport and retail trade. The interviews were conducted in 2009 and 2010 in each of the three countries. The paper concludes by giving an educated guess on the relevance of on-going processes like the financial crisis and the dominating ethnic cleavage in Estonia and Latvia for the future of collective interest representation in Baltic industrial relations. The discussed findings and hypotheses are of scientific relevance in so far as they cast light on specifically Baltic industrial relations conditions that are part of a greater debate on a number of Central and Eastern European countries. This debate includes the influence of MNC countries on industrial relations, the question of convergence or path dependency of industrial relations developments, and the impact of the economic and political integration of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.