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Judicial Settlement of Individual Labor Disputes in the Soviet Union

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After Mary McAuley's 1969 thesis about labor disputes in the Soviet Union,1 little attention has been devoted to the study of settling individual labor disputes in the USSR.2 And indeed, only a few developments appear to have occurred in this field, although the law governing labor disputes was totally revised in 19703-1974.4 Nevertheless, in the present period, labor disputes show many contrasts with those of 15-25 years ago, the period analyzed by McAuley. First, the number of labor dispute cases, filed by Soviet workers, is less than one-half the number filed in the early 1960s and also the number of disputes concerning the recovery of losses incurred by employers (hereafter : damage cases) has diminished significantly. Moreover, the nature of these latter disputes seems to have changed. Few details are known about the frequency of criminal labor cases considered by Soviet courts; only the period 1940-1956 - when some violations of labor discipline and unauthorized quitting could be prosecuted criminally - has been studied in some detail, but data concerning the frequency of such cases are unavailable in the West. Other criminal cases concerning the non-observance of labor law by management have received only scant attention. This paper is based upon a study into the quantitative aspects of labor cases in Soviet courts and it represents a first attempt to elucidate some of the reasons for the changes in the frequency of those labor disputes which are directly connected with the employment relationship. We shall leave aside those disputes arising from labor safety rules and social insurance regulations.

Affiliations: 1: Documentation Office for East European Law, University of Leyden Faculty of Law


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