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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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Chapter 1: Introduction

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1Chapter 1: Introduction The period since the 1990s has seen the emergence of an extensive body of social science research into the movement towards greater European unity. In particular, the issue of Europeanisation, understood as a multi-dimensional and multi-level process of cross-border sociation (Vergesellschaftung), has been the object of a large number of studies from both a political-science and sociological perspective.19 One important element in this process has been the establishment of European Works Councils (EWC), and one of the intentions behind the 1994 EWC Directive was to support the social and political dimension of European unity. The final form of the Directive was the outcome of three decades of difficult negotiations and the examination of a wide range of proposed models. In its final form, it created a new institutional order for employee participation and the regulation of interests in ‘Community-scale’ enterprises with at least 1,000 employees overall in a minimum of two EU Member States, and with at least 150 employees in each. This new institution was developed and became established through a complex process that entailed, firstly, the adoption of supranational (EU-) Directives and cor- responding transposing legislation at national level; and, secondly, the emergence of a practice of cross-border interest regulation by the immediate actors concerned (companies, trade unions, workplace employee representatives) that preceded, ran parallel to and followed the introduction of these legal instruments (Keller, 2001; Lecher et al., 2001; Pardi, 2006; Pries, 2010). By 2010 some 950 EWCs had been es- tablished in...

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