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The Europeanization of Industrial Relations in the Service Sector

Problems and Perspectives in a Heterogeneous Field


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 10: European company industrial relations in the service sector: Findings, challenges, perspectives


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European company industrial relations in the service sector: Findings, challenges, perspectives

The trails that we have cut across the complex and under-researched terrain of European industrial relations and trade union strategies in the service sector in the course of the case studies now open up the way for a more systematic overview of our findings together with some – tentative – theoretically informed generalizations.

We consider the findings in terms of three aspects of the study:

• Firstly, the quantitative development of company-level industrial relations in the service sector, illustrated by the incidence of European Works Councils as the main indicator (Chapter 10.1).

• Secondly, national and company arrangements and practice for EWC support (Chapter 10.2).

• And thirdly, European collective bargaining in UNI Europa’s organizing sphere, which will be outlined and analysed both in aggregate and for each of the selected cases (Chapter 10.3).

Finally, we consider a number of theorems in EWC research (see Platzer and Rüb, 2014: 259ff.) and the significance of the structural context for Europeanizing company-level industrial relations (Chapter 10.4). ← 183 | 184 →

10.1 Distribution and coverage of EWCs in the service sector

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