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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 10: Ford of Europe


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Chapter 10:  Ford of Europe

10.1  The Ford Group in Europe

10.1.1  History and characteristics of the Ford Motor Company

The Ford Motor Company, founded on 16 June 1903 by Henry Ford and eleven other shareholders in Dearborn/Michigan, is one of the world’s longest-established automotive companies. With some 179,000 employees at eighty-eight plants (2008) the company operates in 200 markets.218 Its product range encompasses cars, vans and cross-country vehicles, supplemented by its own vehicle related financial services company. Ford Motor Company continues to be effectively controlled by the Ford family through the size of their ownership of voting stock, despite a small holding of overall equity in the company.219

The company’s greatest innovation, which was to revolutionise the entire automotive industry, took place on 1 April 1913 at the Highland Park plant in Michigan when it initiated assembly line production, beginning the epoch of mass production. Combined with the relatively simply constructed standard car, the legendary Model T, which was produced for many years, Ford set a benchmark for industrial production in the first half of the Twentieth Century, making ownership of a car feasible for wide groups of consumers. The declared aim of building a car that would be affordable for any worker was achieved by offering a minimal level of equipment and the use of a single colour.

During the 1920s competitors – primarily General Motors – positioned themselves with higher value cars in the...

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