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Transnational Company Bargaining and the Europeanization of Industrial Relations

Prospects for a Negotiated Order


Stephan Rüb, Hans-Wolfgang Platzer and Torsten Müller

Over the past decade, European company-level employment regulation has emerged: European Works Councils (EWCs) and trade unions have begun to negotiate company-level collective agreements which have a far-reaching impact across borders on issues as diverse as company restructuring, health and safety, and profit-sharing. The negotiating parties have thus begun to fill the gap left by low levels of regulation and little formal structure, necessarily leading them to also bargain about the negotiating process itself.
This study is the first to provide a detailed analysis of the process of negotiating European company-level agreements based on ten company case studies as well as a quantitative study of European company-level bargaining in the metalworking industry. The study provides a comprehensive overview of the emerging order of European company-level industrial relations and the strategies and assessments of the key actors, with a particular focus on the emergence of a new and dynamic interplay between EWCs and trade unions at the national and European levels. The findings are also placed in the wider context of political science research into European integration and thus contribute to European governance debates that go beyond the employment and industrial relations field.


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Chapter 5 Transnational Bargaining in Metalworking: A Quantitative Analysis


This quantitative analysis of transnational bargaining in the metalworking sector aims to respond to the research questions raised in the Introduction (Chapter 1.2).1 That is: • The incidence and characteristics of forms of transnational bar- gaining that are directed at concluding formal agreements (and related to this the question of the completeness and reliability of existing data on transnational agreements). • The incidence and characteristics of informal understandings and arrangements. • The prospects for the further development of transnational bar- gaining, both formal and informal. Our objective was to obtain more in-depth data on the state of develop- ment, principal characteristics and growth of transnational bargaining in the metalworking sector, embracing both formal agreements and informal arrangements.2 At the same time, the research also enables the qualitative 1 The survey was conducted between September 2011 and January 2012. The approach, methodology and findings are detailed in Müller et al., 2012. 2 The main characteristic of informal arrangements is that they do not have the status of formal written agreements but are nonetheless seen by both parties as entailing commitments that will be adhered to. They can take the form of ‘gentlemen’s agree- ments’, sealed with a handshake, where neither side considers it necessary for a written 224 Chapter 5 data obtained from the case studies in the metalworking industry to be set against a wider and more quantitative measure for this branch. The study is based on two data sources: • Primary data was collected by a survey, conducted by phone inter-...

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