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The Europeanization of Industrial Relations in the Service Sector

Problems and Perspectives in a Heterogeneous Field

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Stefan Rüb and Hans-Wolfgang Platzer

The service sector has not always received the attention it merits in industrial relations research when set against its enormous economic significance. One factor in this is certainly the highly diverse nature of services. Research attention has also lagged behind long-standing processes of transnationalization undertaken by service sector companies and the challenges these pose for policy and practice in the field of employment relations. This study by Stefan Rüb and Hans-Wolfgang Platzer represents a pioneering effort to remedy this gap. Through six named company case studies, Rüb and Platzer explore the scope and background for transnational employee relations conflicts and the mechanisms that have emerged to resolve and anticipate these, highlighting the complex relationships between employee representatives, management and trade unions.
The choice of case studies aims to capture a broad range of service sector employment, in terms of both working conditions and employment relations arrangements. As well as covering a number of key sectors, the choice of home countries of the selected firms also aims to capture the impact of national influences for the main industrial relations models in Europe. Overall, the study offers insights into the complexities of the Europeanization of company-level industrial relations in a dynamic field now also confronted by the convulsions unleashed by the Eurozone crisis.

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Chapter 9: A great leap forward in European industrial relations: Post- acquisition developments in the case of DS Smith

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Chapter 9 A great leap forward in European industrial relations: Post- acquisition developments in the case of DS Smith 9.1 DS Smith: From a British to a European undertaking DS Smith plc is a leading global supplier of recycled packaging materials for both industrial products and consumer goods. The group has four divi- sions: packaging, paper, plastics, and recycling. The company has production facilities in twenty-five countries, with the bulk of its output concentrated in Europe. The workforce of just over 20,000 is dispersed over a large number of relatively small plants. The company’s Annual Report 2011 noted that there were 128 operations, each employing between six and 600 employees. DS Smith’s acquisition of SCA Packaging in 2012 raised the total number of production operations to over 200. The largest division by some margin is packaging, which accounts for around three-quarters of the total workforce and has 190 manufacturing sites. The main product is corrugated packaging. The paper division oper- ates paper mills in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK. The plastics division has over thirty manufacturing sites in Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Australia. The fact that production is organized in a large number of small plants follows from the fragmented market for corrugated cardboard packaging. The four largest suppliers (in addition to DS Smith, Smurfit Kappa, SAICA and International Papers) account for some 40 per cent of the European market, with the remainder shared between a large number of small and medium sized...

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