Underground waterlines

Explaining political quiescence of Ukrainian labor unions

in Focaal
View More View Less
  • 1 Sciences Po (Max Planck Sciences Po Center on Coping with Instability in Market Societies) denys.gorbach@sciencespo.fr
Restricted access

Abstract

In order to explore factors conditioning the political quietude of Ukrainian labor, this article analyzes ethnographic data collected at two large enterprises: the Kyiv Metro and the privatized electricity supplier Kyivenergo. Focusing on a recent labor conflict, I unpack various contexts condensed in it. I analyze the hegemonic configuration developed in the early 1990s, at the workplace and at the macro level, and follow its later erosion. This configuration has been based on labor hoarding, distribution of nonwage resources, and patronage networks, featuring the foreman as the nodal figure. On the macro scale, it relied on the mediation by unions, supported by resources accumulated during the Soviet era and the economic boom of the 2000s. The depletion of these resources has spelled the ongoing crisis of this configuration.

Contributor Notes

Denys Gorbach is a doctoral fellow at Sciences Po (Max Planck Sciences Po Center on Coping with Instability in Market Societies). Before receiving his MA from the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Central European University, he spent seven years working as an economic journalist in Ukraine. His current ethnographic research is focused on the politicization of Ukrainian working class—specifically, the coexistence of popular and class allegiances in the given politico-economic framework. Email: denys.gorbach@sciencespo.fr

Focaal

Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology

  • Adăscăliței, Dragoș and Ștefan Guga. 2017. “Negotiating agency and structure: Trade union organizing strategies in a hostile environment.” Economic and Industrial Democracy 38 (3): 473494. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0143831X15578157.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ashwin, Sarah, and Simon Clarke. 2003. Russian trade unions and industrial relations in transition. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Bernaciak, Magdalena, and Aleksandra Lis. 2017. “Weak labour, strong interests: Polish trade unions and the integration of EU energy and service markets.” JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies 55 (3): 432448. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcms.12506

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bojcun, Marko. 2015. “Origins of the Ukrainian crisis.” Critique 43 (3–4): 395419. https://doi.org/10.1080/03017605.2015.1089085.

  • Borisov, Vadim, and Simon Clarke. 1994. “Reform and revolution in the communist national park.” Capital and Class (53): 913. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F030981689405300101.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Braverman, Harry. (1974) 1998. Labor and monopoly capital: The degradation of work in the twentieth century. 25th anniversary ed. New York: Monthly Review Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Burawoy, Michael. 1979. Manufacturing consent: Changes in the labor process under monopoly capitalism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Burawoy, Michael, and Pavel Krotov. 1993. “The Soviet transition from socialism to capitalism: Worker control and economic bargaining in the wood industry.” In Clarke 1993b: 5690.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Burawoy, Michael, and Katherine Verdery, eds. 1999. Uncertain transition: Ethnographies of change in the postsocialist world. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Burawoy, Michael, Pavel Krotov, and Tatyana Lytkina. 2000. “Involution and destitution in capitalist Russia.” Ethnography 1 (1): 4365. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F14661380022230633

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chernomorskaya Teleradiokompaniya. 2016. “Aktsiya protesta nezavisimogo profsoyuza gorniakov Ukrainy” [Protest of the independent miners’ union of Ukraine]. Video, 26:53. Published 20 July. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOkuxr5cSPE&feature = youtu.be&t = 21m31s.

    • Export Citation
  • Clarke, John. 2014. “Conjunctures, crises, and cultures: Valuing Stuart Hall.” Focaal—Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology 70: 113122. https://doi.org/10.3167/fcl.2014.700109.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Clarke, Simon. 1993a. “The contradictions of ‘state socialism.’” In Clarke 1993b: 529.

    • Export Citation
  • Clarke, Simon, ed. 1993b. What about the workers? Workers and the transition to capitalism in Russia. London: Verso.

  • Crowley, Stephen. 1997. Hot coal, cold steel: Russian and Ukrainian workers from the end of the Soviet Union to the post-communist transformations. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Crowley, Stephen. 2004. “Explaining labor weakness in post-communist Europe: Historical legacies and comparative perspective.” East European Politics and Societies 18 (3): 394429. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0888325404267395.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davis, Sue. 2001. Trade unions in Russia and Ukraine, 1985–1995. London: Palgrave.

  • Dutchak, Oksana. 2016. “Rabochie protesty v Ukraine do i posle ‘Evromaidana’” [Workers’ protests in Ukraine before and after “Euromaidan”]. Sociologiya: Teoriya, Metody, Marketing 4: 85101.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dutchak, Oksana, and Andriy Gladun. 2017. “Nagliadaty ta vyrobliaty: Avtomatyzatsiya na Ukrayinskyh pidpryiemstvah” [Discipline and produce: Automation at Ukrainian factories]. Commons, 22 February. http://commons.com.ua/ru/avtomatizatsiya-na-ukrayinskih-pidpriyemstvah.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Filtzer, Donald A. 1992. Soviet workers and de-Stalinization: The consolidation of the modern system of Soviet production relations, 1953–1964. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kalb, Don. 2002. “Afterword: Globalism and postsocialist prospects.” In Postsocialism: Ideals, ideologies and practices in Eurasia, ed. Chris Hann, 31734. London: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kalb, Don. 2014. “‘Worthless Poles’ and other dispossessions: Toward an anthropology of labor in post-communist Central and Eastern Europe.” In Blood and fire: Toward a global anthropology of labor, ed. Sharryn Kasmir and August Carbonella, 250288. New York: Berghahn Books.

    • Export Citation
  • Kalb, Don, and Herman Tak. 2006. “Introduction: Critical junctions—recapturing anthropology and history.” In Critical junctions: Anthropology and history beyond the cultural turn, ed. Don Kalb and Herman Tak, 127. New York: Berghahn Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kubicek, Paul. 2000. Unbroken ties: The state, interest associations, and corporatism in post-Soviet Ukraine. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kubicek, Paul. 2004. Organized labor in postcommunist states: From solidarity to infirmity. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.

  • Mandel, David. 2004. Labor after communism: Auto workers and their unions in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Montreal: Black Rose Books.

  • Mrozowicki, Adam. 2014. “Varieties of trade union organizing in Central and Eastern Europe: A comparison of the retail and automotive sectors.” European Journal of Industrial Relations 20 (4): 297315. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0959680113519314.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Myant, Martin. 2007. “The Czech Republic: From ‘Czech’ capitalism to ‘European’ capitalism.” In Varieties of capitalism in post-communist countries, ed. David Lane and Martin Myant, 105123. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ost, David. 2000. “Illusory corporatism in Eastern Europe: Neoliberal tripartism and postcommunist class identities.” Politics and Society 28 (4): 503530. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0032329200028004004.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Petrushina, Tatiana. 2016. “Socialno-trudovye otnosheniia v sfere materialnogo proizvodstva (po dannym pervogo vseukrainskogo oprosa rabochih)” [Social and industrial relations in the sphere of material production (on the data of the first all-Ukrainian workers survey)]. Sociologiya: Teoriya, Metody, Marketing 4: 6384.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ticktin, Hillel. 1992. Origins of the crisis in the USSR: Essays on the political economy of a disintegrating system. Armonk, NY: Sharpe.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ticktin, Hillel. 2002. “Why the transition failed: Towards a political economy of the post-soviet period in Russia.” Critique 30 (1): 1341. https://doi.org/10.1080/03017600508413473

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Varga, Mihai. 2014. Worker protests in post-communist Romania and Ukraine: Striking with tied hands. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Verdery, Katherine. 1996. What was socialism, and what comes next? Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

  • Way, Lucan A. 2015. Pluralism by default: Weak autocrats and the rise of competitive politics. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 81 81 13
Full Text Views 20 20 0
PDF Downloads 37 37 0