B – Economy, trade, and finances

Workers and the change of ownership in the 1970s and 1980s

Event Details

  • Date

    Saturday, 27 June - 14:00 – 16:00

  • Venue
    tba
  • Theme
    B – Economy, trade, and finances
Convenor
  • Attila Melegh (Corvinus University of Budapest)
Chair
  • Attila Melegh (Corvinus University of Budapest)
  • Eszter Bartha (ELTE University)
Commentator
  • Marcel van der Linden (International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam)
Panelists
  • Eszter Bartha (ELTE University)
  • András Tóth (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Institute of East European History)
  • Tibor Valuch (Eszterházy Károly University)
  • Raquel Varela (New University of Lisbon)
  • Attila Melegh (Corvinus University of Budapest)

Papers

  • Eszter Bartha
    András Tóth
    Revisiting attempts to render workers’ ownership of production possible in the wake of the change of regimes in Hungary

    Revisiting attempts to render workers’ ownership of production possible in the wake of the change of regimes in Hungary

    After forty years of an era, in which the state owned – at least theoretically – the means of production, the system-change from socialism to capitalism opened up the possibility for workers’ communities to establish ownership over their workplaces, the means of production. In the early days of the systemic change, two distinct ideological groups met within the framework of the grassroots workers council movement. One group, headed by Tamás Krausz and István Thoma, were left-wing radicals, who dreamed to create workers’ ownership in the place of the failed state ownership based socialist system. The other group, headed by László Palkovics, a skilled worker in the Herend Porcelángyár, dreamed to create ownership of workers communities following the example of the anti-communist 1956 revolutions. His efforts were supported by the national radicals within the anti-communist right Hungarian Democratic Forums (MDF), whose aim was create a third way between state-socialism and liberal capitalism.
  • Tibor Valuch
    How to survive? - The personal experiences of Hungarian workers concerning the transition and privatization before and after 1989/90

    How to survive? - The personal experiences of Hungarian workers concerning the transition and privatization before and after 1989/90

    Since the end of 1980s Central and Eastern European countries have undergone a political, economic and institutional transition from various forms of socialist structures towards democratic and market-economy systems. One of the most important part of this transformation was the totally restructuring of world of work. My aim is to give a summary about the altering world of work and workers in Hungary in the last decades of the twentieth century. This question is important because the political and economic conditions of worker’s being had been changed several times in Hungary and East Central Europe after WWII. After the communist takeover, began the period of forced industrialization and the state built up total political and economic control over the work and the different groups of working class. This system was destroyed after the change of regime in 1989/90 and began to getting back to the relationship of market economy. The transition period can be characterized by parallel effects of deindustrialization, post- and reindustrialization and globalization. In my paper I study the effects of collapse of communist system. The main questions are, how had been changed the role of the state and politics in the regulation of labour during the transition process and after? How could the different group of workers adjust to the new conditions of market economy in the nineties? How can be described the main characteristics of the altering relationship between work, workers, state and private owners after the end of transition? Which were the main consequences of de-and reindustrialization. I’d also like to give answer for the question “what happened to the ‘Losers’ in the period of transition?” I try to give answers for these questions based on life story interviews analyses.
  • Raquel Varela
    Workers and workers’ councils controlling private companies during the Portuguese revolution

    Workers and workers’ councils controlling private companies during the Portuguese revolution

    During the Portuguese revolution (1974-9175) more than 600 companies were occupied and self managed by workers, and several big companies were under workers’ control. The majority of the big-companies and banks were nationalized. Major metalworking companies and even other sectors are in a situation of worker control beyond self-management, more established in small companies and companies in real financial difficulty and / or productive instability due to the economic crisis of 1970-1973. This created a strong debate on the future of the companies and the role of the state, unions and workers commissions. In this paper we will debate this major change in a Western European country and its effects on national and international economy during and after 1974-1975.
  • ‘I could never imagine this happening’. The memories of elderly outmigrants from Hungary concerning the change of ownership

    ‘I could never imagine this happening’. The memories of elderly outmigrants from Hungary concerning the change of ownership

    Eastern Europe has become demographically and socially very fragile as it has become a locus low reproduction rates, massive outmigration and the rejection of larger scale immigration. The paper analyses how skilled and unskilled workers in Hungary reconstruct historically the collapse of a mixed economy socialism and their life career of becoming migrant workers maneuvering in newly re-strengthened global hierarchies in the era of globalization since the 1980s in terms of job opportunities and very importantly related identity constructions. The paper will pay special attention to how losses are compensated or counterbalanced in a gendered manner. The paper will also address how can we understand historically the current animosity between these East European migrant workers and asylum seekers in countries like Austria and Germany. the paper combines biographic and narrative methods with a Polanyian perspective following the effects of radical disembeddedness in personal life histories.

Abstract

The novel idea of the panel is to concentrate on a historical and geographic comparison of the varieties in the privatization of social ownership and the perspectives of workers concerning privatization between the 1970s and 1990s. This will be a panel in which participants compare workers' perspectives across countries and across the privatization of organizations, companies, cooperatives by various ownership forms (self- management, cooperatives, state owned companies, other forms of public employment etc.) This will be also discussed from the perspectives of the later life history of these workers, for instance how they becoming migrant workers. The panel will build upon rich source materials, unused party documents, ethnographic evidence and very importantly also oral history interviews. Participants will also raise the issue what perspectives could be developed historically the other way round, when workers moved from private to social ownership, for instance during the Portuguese revolution.