Estonian Business School Tallinn
The results of empirical studies in five post socialist countries indicate that despite having a similar history of belonging to the soviet block there are significant differences between Estonia and the four other Central and East European countries in attitudes held concerning trade unions (TU). Estonia was ranked lowest among other European countries according to the number of people involved in TU and respondents from Estonia found TU involvement in employment and labour market policy, education, productivity and inflation policy at the state level less important that in the other countries.
This paper discusses economic and historical reasons for the low popularity of TU in Estonia. First, the radical reforms that created the liberal market economy have been taken into account. As a result of these reforms, Estonia is ranked as one of the highest among EU and candidate countries according to an overall index of economic freedom, but the employees are less protected. Second, under Soviet rule, TU themselves from defending employee interest and started to operate as a tool for communist propaganda and Soviet domination. The trust lost when TU stopped fulfilling their traditional roles is still a long way from being restored.
KEY WORDS: Estonia, trade unions, radical reforms, trust.