Accueil » 25-2 ( 1970) » Les rapports industriels en Yougoslavie

Les rapports industriels en Yougoslavie

Cvetko Kostic


Après avoir analysé la structure formelle et la compétence des organes de l'autogestion ouvrière dans l'industrie yougoslave, l'auteur expose les résultats des deux recherches empiriques sur les attitudes et opinions des ouvriers concernant l'autogestion, l'influence de divers organes de l'autogestion, le rôle du parti et des syndicats et la sécurité des ouvriers au travail.


Industrial Relations in Yugoslavia

Beginning in 1945, profound social changes took place in Yugoslavia. Three types of ownership emerged : social (collective), private, and cooperative ownership. The industry, mining, banking and transport sectors, as well as 25% of the farmed land became part of the realm of social ownership. In 1950, important business associations were formed and the law on company management was promulgated by the working class. This law established the general principles of worker's self-government from then on. Besides this main phenomenon now leading Yugoslavia « on the road towards socialism », a certain importance must be given to the roles played in industrial life by the unions and by the Communist Party.

This paper analyses the formal structure and the sphere of action of each body responsible for workers' self-government in the different industries, and secondly, presents the different findings of two research projects dealing with self-government, the role of the Party and of the unions, and workers' security on the job.

Three main principles direct the action of the workers' self-government in Yugoslavian industry :

1.— Socially owned industrial firms are governed by its basic producers : the workers.

2. — Industrial firms are independent and work on a profit-oriented basis.

3.—The socialist organization of these firms establishes socialist relations which exclude the possible exploitation of the workers, and demands from each of these workers a performance in conformity with his individual capacities.

These principles rule the election and constitution of the main bodies of industrial organization, which are : The Workers' Council, the Executive Council, and the Director. The Workers' Council is elected, dismissed and re-elected by the workers, and gives the firm its autonomy as a self-governing unit by administrating according to the best interests of the workers, of the unique socialist scheme of economy and of society as a whole. Its main functions are :

— Establishing the firm's production and investment guidelines, and its final budget ;

— Coordinating the firm's activities with the State's social plan ;

— Distributing and establishing the share of the firm's revenues which belong to the workers.

The Executive Council is made of three to eleven members, and is in charge of the firm's management along the policy guidelines shaped by the Workers' Council. Its members are elected by the workers and are responsible towards the Workers Council as to the execution of company policies and the management of the firm in general.

The Director is named by the State, and although the Executive and the Workers' Council cannot dismiss him, they can nonetheless demand his dismissal. The Director organizes the production line and has the function of General Manager of the firm's policies and business ; he is directly responsible to the Executive Council and to the State concerning the respect of its laws and regulations. He must execute all orders of the Executive Council which are within the law, but can stop their execution if they do not respect the State regulations.

Two research projects allow us to judge to a certain extent the efficiency of this system of self-government and the exact influence of the different parties in it.

The results of the research project in Kraljevo indicate that the communists, the firm's experts and its qualified workers are more active when allowed personal initiative, but the system of self-government has to deal with a certain amount of résistance from informal groups such as members of a same profession, family, or town, who seek mutual protection from the firm's managers. Bureaucratic tendencies appear in certain firms. Religion is also an influent factor.

The majority of the technicians and workers interviewed considered that the strongest influence in their firm was held by the Director, and not by the Workers' Council ; general opinion gave more influence to the Communist Leagues than to the Union, perhaps because of the Party's control over the nomination of certain leading executives.

The Belgrade project concerned itself mostly with how job-secure a worker felt in a system of self-government. The first question was : Can someone remain unemployed even if he is a good worker ? 29.43 % of the workers answered that he cannot. 62.33% answered that he can. The other question tested how secure the interviewed worker felt his job was : 41.18% answered that their position was completely secure, but 34.67% answered that it was partly secure. There is no doubt that a feeling of instability does exist among the workers about their jobs.

Other results establish the fact that stability depends on the workers' degree of qualifications, and that those who expect a better standard of living in the future are more secure than those who expect a lower one. Another question was : "To what extent can the situation of your workers' organization be improved by the concern and efforts of the self-government bodies ?" 20% answered "considerably" ; 27.1% "passably" ; and 30.3% answered "partly"; 12.3% said "not at all".


This analysis shows that the self-government system in Yugoslavia has the same characteristics that the social organization prevailing in this country. The Workers' Council. the Executive Council and the Directors are its main bodies. The law clearly defines between the connexions these bodies among themselves on the one hand and with the workers and the State on the other hand. However the connexions between these bodies, the unions and the Communist League have not been sufficiently specified. Empirical studies indicate that the influence of the latter is in fact much greater than the one of the former. These results also show certain difficulties met by the workers' self-government system ; bureaucratic tendencies by civil and political servants and a certain backwardness of part of the workers.

Increased modernization and education, along with the refinement of the existing system of self-government, should gradually eliminate these difficulties, and allow the progressive strengthening of this original system of industrial relations in Yugoslavia.


BICANIC, R.,Interaction of Macro and Microeconomic Decisions in Yougoslavia, (1954-1957), University of California, Press, 353 pp.

BILANDZIC, D.,La lutte pour le socialisme autogestionnaire 1945-1969, Zagreb, 1969.

HADZIVASILEV, M.,Le Grand tournant de l’histoire, Belgrade, 1969.

IBRAHIMAGIC, G.,L'autogestion dans l'organisation de travail, Sarajevo, 1968. Institut pour l'autogestion sociale,L'autogestion et l'intégration dans l'économie, Zagreb, 1966.

KARDELJ, E., « La Yougoslavie contemporaine », recueilDix ans de la nouvelle Yougoslavie, Belgrade, 1955.

KILIBARDA, K. S.,L'autogestion et la Ligue des communistes, Belgrade, 1966.

MARDOMINGO, Julien,Autogestion ouvrière et planification en Yougoslavie, thème de maîtrise, Université de Louvain, 1965.

MEISTER, Albert,Socialisme et autogestion en Yougoslavie. Éditions du Seuil, Paris, 1969.

MEISTER, Albert, « Démocratie et participation dans les associations volontaires » dansSociologie du travail, Éditions du Seuil, Paris, 1969, pp. 236-252.

MEISTER, Albert, « Caractéristiques de l'associationisme et du militantisme en Yougoslavie » dansSociologie du travail, Paris, 1969, pp. 18-38.

MILOSLAVLEVSKI, S.,L'autogestion et la Ligue des communistes, Belgrade, 1967.

PUSIC, E.,l’autogestion, Zagreb, 1969.

ROMAN, A.,L'autogestion et le système des managers, Belgrade, 1968.

ZUPANOV, Josip, TANNENBAUM, Arnold S., « La distribution du contrôle dans quelques organisations industrielles yougoslaves » dansSociologie du travail, 1967, pp. 1-24.

Faculté de Droit,Gestion autonome et autogestion (matériaux de la consultation à la Faculté de Droit), Belgrade, 1969.

Programme de la Ligue des communistes en Yougoslavie, Belgrade, 1958.