Labour After Communism


284 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55164-243-3
DDC 331.88'1292'094709049





Reviewed by Jaroslaw Zurowsky

Jaroslaw Zurowsky is a translator and editor in Winnipeg, Manitoba.


A study of labour in the former Soviet Union and how it has changed
since the collapse of the USSR could provide an interesting perspective
on the region’s evolving cultural and social climate. Unfortunately,
Labour After Communism will disappoint on many levels. The author, a
self-admitted Canadian leftist academic with anti-IMF and
anti-globalization biases, sets out to prove that the unionized
automotive and farm machinery workers in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus
are worse off now than they were under Soviet rule. While it is true
that, for many, the standard of living has fallen, the reasons for this
decline go well beyond the lack of effective unions and the arrival of
capitalism. Soviet industry was inefficient: it could produce MiG
fighter jets, but not a quality car (witness the Lada of the early
1980s), which is one of the reasons consumers in Eastern Europe
abandoned locally made products in favour of Western goods.

In true Soviet fashion, the author refers to male union leaders by
their last names and female union leaders by their first names. Also
irksome are the book’s many typos. Mandel deserves credit for drawing
attention to the questionable roles some union leaders played in the
Soviet Union both before and after the collapse, but his book overall is
quite disappointing.


Mandel, David., “Labour After Communism,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 12, 2024,