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A Solution for Transnational Labour Regulation?

Company Internationalization and European Works Councils in the Automotive Sector

Axel Hauser-Ditz, Markus Hertwig, Ludger Pries and Luitpold Rampeltshammer

This book examines the role that European employee representatives play in the restructuring of firms. In a globalized economy, company internationalization and transnational restructuring are of growing concern for employees and trade unions. In the European Union, the still rather new institution of European works councils provides basic rights for employees. Using examples of eight large automotive manufacturers like Volkswagen, GM or Toyota, the volume analyzes the internationalization strategies of the companies and the effects of European works councils, pointing to a high degree of variation in strategies and effectiveness of cross-border employee representation.

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Introduction to the English edition

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1 Between 2007 and 2010, the authors conducted a research project on European Works Councils (EWCs) in eight large automotive manufactures headquartered in four countries: Germany, France, Japan and the United States. The project was financed by the German Research Foundation (“Der Europäische Betriebsrat als transnationale Organisation”) and carried out at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. This volume is the – enlarged – English edition of the final report originally published in German in 2010. The intervening period has been marked by a number of sig- nificant developments first and foremost the financial and economic crisis, which had a major impact on the businesses and strategies of the companies we studied as well as their bodies for cross-border employee representation. The aim of this introduction is to provide an update on the major developments in this period that affected both the companies and the EWCs. The main concern is how EWCs were affected by the crisis, and in what ways changes in companies’ structures and strategies triggered changes in the structures and activities of the EWCs. The findings included in this update are interpreted using the same theoretical framework already developed for the German edition. As a consequence, the results also indicate whether this theoretical model has retained its validity in view of the fact that although it expressly included scope for change and development, it did not originally address the issue of the possible structural shifts induced by economic crisis. 1.1 Daimler-Benz and Volkswagen – driving through the crisis and onwards Compared...

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