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The Transnationalisation of Collective Bargaining

Approaches of European Trade Unions


Vera Glassner

This book analyses the transnationalisation of collective bargaining by European trade unions, presenting key theoretical concepts and debates on the Europeanisation of collective bargaining and social dialogue.
The author uses comprehensive empirical evidence to illustrate that trade union strategies can be linked to sector-specific economic, institutional and actorrelated factors.
Looking at seven different industrial sectors, the book investigates whether western European trade unions pursue a centralised, vertical approach towards the transnationalisation of collective bargaining policies or embark upon decentralised, horizontal cross-border initiatives.
It identifies and operationalises the most important determinants of processes and explores commonly held assumptions about relationships between different forms of trade union-driven transnationalisation.
Overall, the study reveals a number of patterns in the variation between countries and sectors, both of the institutions and instruments involved and of the intensity of cross-border coordination.
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1. Introduction


The question of the Europeanisation of industrial relations can be investigated from various perspectives. First of all, it is seen as one aspect of the broader concept of the “social dimension” of the European Union (EU). The transnationalisation of collective bargaining clearly belongs within the process of Europeanisation and of the (uneven) development of a multi-level social and employment polity (Marginson and Sisson, 2006a). Given the progress achieved by the Community since its creation, in terms of procedural and material regulation of matters relating to social policy and labour law, it is difficult to deny that the EU has a social dimension. There is, however, little agreement as to whether this includes a European system of procedural regulations for collective industrial relations in general and collective bargaining in particular. Can one speak at all in terms of the existence of an EU-wide system for regulating industrial relations?

Our historical starting point will be the creation of the European Monetary Union (EMU) and the requirements for and constraints upon the Europeanisation of industrial relations entailed by this development. EMU was indisputably a driver for the development of EU social partnership that was conceived to act as a counterweight of market and monetary integration. In the field of collective bargaining EMU created new incentives for social actors to act together (Crouch, 2000; Dølvik, 2000; Marginson and Traxler, 2005; Glassner and Pochet, 2011), while at the same time putting pressure on national collective bargaining frameworks because central bankers...

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