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Trade Unions in Greece (review)
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Reviews Theodore K. Katsanevas. Trade Unions in Greece. Athens: National Centre of Social Research, 1984. Pp. 283. The attention paid by social scientists to Greek labor unionism has been disproportionately small compared to the increasing political and economic weight of organized labor activity in Greece in the last ten years. This book by Theodore Katsanevas redresses the disproportion in a significant way. It makes an important contribution to a systematic examination of the Greek labor union movement. It undertakes not only to describe the salient features of present day unionism, but also to pinpoint explanatory factors determining the evolution of labor unions in Greece in the twentieth century. The book consists of two parts. The first part comprises eleven chapters and forms the analytical backbone of this monograph. It assumes that historical causality runs from the socio-economic environment to the form, the content, the intensity, and the outcome of labor struggles. Under that assumption it traces the effects of economic structures and political developments upon the historical course of labor unions. In discussing the effects of economic structures , the author evokes the peripheral capitalist character of Greek development and derives from this several conclusions as to the strength, the uneven sectoral development, and the type of organizational forms fostered by the labor movement. Subsequently, in discussing the effects of political structures and developments, the author depicts with clarity the two essential elements whose interplay defines the dialectic of the Greek labor movement : left-wing labor militancy springing from the worker base on one hand, and on the other, state intervention in the form of labor paternalism. His essay is not a historical study and he therefore limits his exposition to the static depiction of selected instances of the clash between these two tendencies. The reader can directly infer that this clash is a struggle for control of the labor movement, and that its outcome leaves an imprint on the institutional-legal environment of labor activity as well as on the political profile of the labor movement. In his comments the author embodies an account of com207 208 Reviews parative experiences of other countries. In the concluding chapter of the first part, the reader finds an illuminating critique of the legal features of collective bargaining, labor rights and arbitration procedures which prevailed in Greece under the post-dictatorship right wing governments. The second part of the book comprises ten chapters including a recapitulation of conclusions and a postscript about the condition of the labor movement after the election of the Socialist government in 1981. In this part, the author provides a systematic and lucid presentation of labor union organizational structures at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels; he describes union governance, elections and finance; he furnishes a profile of labor union leadership and officers ; finally, he undertakes a discussion of trade union politics. All this work refers to the pre-1981 condition of the labor movement. It provides original data, it is informative, insightful and complete. At several points in this second part, the author integrates his conclusions from the first part to explain the variety and admixture of organizational forms which coexist within the Greek labor movement to the present day. To anyone who needs to be informed on the complexities of Greek labor organization, this is indispensable reading put together by an expert. Considering the book as a whole, this reviewer believes that it makes a valuable contribution to the study of the Greek labor movement , and by extension to the understanding of Greek society and politics. As an essay the book combines the analysis of the past with that of the present, and balances analytical with descriptive work. It also furnishes an extensive bibliography which can be very helpful to other researchers. An attractive feature of the book is that at the end of each section the author summarizes his main conclusions. In short, this is necessary reading for students of modern Greek society. One of the benefits from reading a good monograph is the derivation of an agenda for additional research. One vital subject which this monograph does not address is the condition, the role and the structure of the labor movement in the decade of...