Political involvement in industrial conflict in Ukraine during the world economic crisis, 2008-2010

  • Mihai Varga
Keywords: post-communism, political economy, industrial conflict, trade unions, Eastern Europe, labor, workers, Ukraine


To what extent is the current world economic crisis leading to industrial conflict in Ukraine and through which mechanisms? This article shows with ethnographic data that the crisis did indeed spur some industrial conflict in Ukraine. Furthermore, the crisis has combined with the increase in political liberalization witnessed by Ukraine ever since 2004 to create incentives for political forces to take the workers’ side in plant-level industrial conflicts. I study three instances of plant-based industrial conflict in 2008-2010, and map how political forces contain or use worker militancy against political opponents. However, cases of industrial conflict are rather limited. With the help of statistical analysis I discuss a possible explanation why industrial conflict is largely absent from Ukraine’s most crisis-hit sector, machine-building.