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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 3: UNI Europa and the policy field of transnational companies

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CHAPTER 3

UNI Europa and the policy field of transnational companies

The European Trade Union Federations (ETUF) play a major role in developing European-level company-based industrial relations in two key respects. Firstly, they represent employees and national trade unions in the political process through which the legal framework for European company-level industrial relations (EWC, SE-WC etc.) has been established; and secondly they are a directly active and influential party in the development of European industrial relations in transnational companies.

Given the size and heterogeneity of the service sector, together with broader processes of economic transformation that have enhanced the role of services, there is virtually no ETUF that is not represented, if only marginally, in this sector (for example, the manufacturing ETUF IndustriAll represents employees in software development). ETUFs such as EPSU (public services), ETF (transport), ETUCE (education and science), EJF (journalism) or EuroCop (police) operate wholly within the service sector.

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