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Paths to Transnational Solidarity

Identity-Building Processes in European Works Councils


Hermann Kotthoff and Michael Whittall

With national industrial relations systems struggling to keep apace with the global and mobile nature of capital, the emergence of the European works council has caught the imagination of both practitioners and scholars of this institution in the last two decades. European works councils find themselves at the centre of an ever emerging European industrial relations landscape, offering employees of multinationals within the European Economic Area the opportunity to work together in regulating employment conditions. An in-depth empirical study of five European works councils, this book offers a unique look into factors which promote and hinder the development of solidarity amongst employees. With a sociological bent, this volume is a must for EWC delegates struggling to deal with geographical, cultural and historical factors that undermine relations between them.
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Chapter 5: Comparing patterns of solidarity: Varieties of constellations for interest representation


← 203 | 204 → CHAPTER 5

Comparing patterns of solidarity: Varieties of constellations for interest representation

Our research has unearthed four patterns of EWC solidarity:

–  Solidarity as an extension of the status of ‘workplace citizen’.

–  Subsidiary solidarity.

–  Protest solidarity versus participative solidarity.

–  Solidarity as a gesture of sympathy.

We now propose to compare these patterns using the research dimensions of group solidarity, calculus of self-interest, activity, group constitution, and effectiveness. Our hypothesis as to the relationship between these dimensions is as follows. The aim and objective of the EWC is the effective representation of interests at European level. Effectiveness presupposes activity, in the sense of a high frequency of meetings, internal communication and joint work. Successful activity, in turn, presupposes the internal organization of a steering committee, which constitutes the capacity and discipline enabling it to act as a cooperative and integrated group. In turn, and crucially, becoming constituted as an organized group with the capacity to take action (an ‘association’) depends on trust, which, for its part, is the outcome of familiarity, mutual acquaintance and a sense of cohesion, but is (also) a function of the fact that EWC delegates believe that the EWC can be of use for their own countries.


← 204 | 205 → Table 6: Research dimensions – overview

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