The Impact of the Crisis on Wages in South-East Europe

What has been the wage impact of the financial and economic crisis in South-East Europe? What structural weaknesses in wage institutions have been highlighted by the crisis? And what are the policy issues that actors in the region – governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations – should urgently address?

This volume provides comparative evidence on wage trends over the last decade –including the most recent period since the crisis began– in seven countries of South-East Europe – four in the West Balkans and three new EU Member States.

Wage experts identify a wide range of effects of the continuing economic crisis on essential wage trends – such as wage arrears, informal payments, real wages, the wage share, the minimum-wage, wage disparity, low-paid workers, the wage structure and wage bargaining. The aggravating impact that some policies – such as freezing the minimum wage, tax reforms and budgetary cuts – may have had on these trends is also analyzed. Furthermore, the experts examine the role that wage policies could play not only in fostering economic growth and increasing domestic demand, and thus helping promote sustainable macroeconomic recovery, but also for pursuing social justice.

This leads to a number of policy recommendations for each country covered as well as for the region as a whole that were identified and endorsed by participants in a high level tripartite conference on wages held by the ILO in the middle of the crisis in 2009.

By providing evidence and proposing policy solutions, this volume will be of particular use to policy makers, employers’ organizations and trade unions in the region, as well as to academics and researchers involved in current reforms in countries in transition and beyond.