Transfer stimulates dialogue between the European trade union movement and the academic and research community. It contributes research findings on issues of strategic relevance for trade unions, in particular with regard to developments at the European level. Transfer publishes original peer-reviewed research on issues such as new developments in industrial relations, social policy, and labour market developments.

Volume 15 Issue 3-4, August 2009

When entering 2009 the prospects for European workers, citizens and economies looked dark. The financial meltdown in the US had spread like wildfire and brought sharp drops in trade, production and employment throughout the global economy. Entire national economies, like those of Iceland and Latvia, were on the verge of collapse and losses of jobs, income and homes soared at a speed and magnitude that were reminiscent of the Great Depression in the 1930s. Fortunately, central banks and politicians reacted more sensibly this time than in the 1930s and it now seems that the combined effects of the bank rescue and stimulus packages have prevented the worst case scenario from materialising. But even if the bottom of the trough should prove to be over and the stock markets are showing signs of recovery, the economic losses and the social costs for the societies, companies and the millions of workers that have lost their jobs and income will be with us for years. After recent recessions it took four to six years for employment to return to pre-crisis levels. With the current crisis, while European production and exports have plunged and unemployment has again reached double-digit numbers in many countries, the repayment of public budget debt will for many years, especially if the rules of the Stability Pact are strictly applied, put a brake on policies to bring unemployment down to pre-crisis levels.

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