Jan Drahokoupil, Martin Myant, Stefan Domonkos
The politics of flexibility: Employment practices in automotive multinationals in Central and Eastern Europe

European Journal of Industrial Relations, 2015: 21, issue 3, pp. 223-240
ISSN: 0959-6801 (print); 1461-7129 (online)

In this article we investigate the flexibility strategies of foreign automobile producers in three Central and Eastern Europe countries, where employment flexibility has become a major issue and an area of conflict with unions. We focus on nine subsidiaries in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, and argue that flexibility strategies were shaped by parent company practices, the flexibility needs of individual affiliates and the relative strength of labour in negotiating the implementation of these practices. Given the relatively weak industrial relations institutions in the region, the relative strength of labour is conditioned primarily by market factors and parent company contexts. The findings thus highlight the importance of political resources and agency of actors in shaping employment policies.