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Session Overview
RN17_01a_H: European Industrial Relations: Representation, Representativeness and Social Dialogue
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Bernd Brandl, University of Durham
Location: HA.2.4
HAROKOPIO University 70 El. Venizelou Street 17671 Athens, Greece Building: A, Level: 2.

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Effectiveness and Engagement in European Sectoral Social Dialogue

Barbara Bechter1, Bengt Larsson3, Gizem Bozdemir1, Manuela Galetto2, Thomas Prosser4, Sabrina Weber5

1University of Durham; 2University of Warwick; 3University of Gothenburg; 4University of Cardiff; 5Pforzheim University

Research on the mechanisms and outcomes of Sectoral Social Dialogue Committees (SSDCs) point towards diverging directions. Some focus on good examples or cases that produced concrete outcomes and therefore see a genuine contribution of SSDCs to the multilevel governance of employment relations in the EU. Others, by contrast, emphasise how the massive output in number of SSDC-texts mainly includes legally non-binding agreements or procedural documents. Such literature focus on the obstacles that hinder both the commitment of social partners and the implementation of the documents jointly produced.

The aim of this paper is to theoretically elaborate and try out different empirical measures of “effectiveness” and “engagement” in SSDCs.

As regards effectiveness we attempt to unpack the concept both by asking “for whom?”, and “in achieving what?” Also the issue of engagement needs to be conceptually elaborated in order to be understood and measured adequately. The social partners’ engagement may vary in relation to:

a) topic and issue tackled at European level,

b) different instruments (e.g. agreements, guidelines, recommendations, tools, statements),

c) the direction of influence seeking (addressor),

d) the process of communication (top-down, bottom up), and

e) consensus building and collaboration (vertical and horizontal).

The paper is based on ongoing research in the SPEEED-project (Social Partner Engagement and Effectiveness in European Dialogue). The projects combines both quantitative material covering all 43 SSDCs, and in-depth qualitative interview studies of two SSDCs (metal and hospital) covering the social partner organizations in five countries (DE, IT, PL, SE, UK).

Representativeness and outcome of European Sector Social Dialogue - a comparisong of 4 sectors

Peter Kerckhofs1, Georg Adam2

1Eurofound, Ireland; 2Forba, Austria

Sector social dialogue has been established at European level within a legal framework from 1998. This resulted in 43 European sector social dialogue committees (ESSDC). Industrial relations research has shown great interest on understanding processes and dynamics of this form of multi-level sectoral social dialogue. To ensure that the right actors are involved in these ESSDCs, Eurofound is conducting representiveness studies on the request of the European Commission. In doing so, a longstanding cooperation over 10 years with Forba offers expertise that will form the basis of this paper.

Some research suggests the existence of a link between the organisational strength of the European associations involved in European sectoral social dialogue (ESSD) and their capacity to produce any outcome in terms of jointly agreed texts and implement these agreements. The hypothesis is that features such as low actor fragmentation, high organisation density, high levels of collective bargaining and formal European level mandating procedures, are generally found in the sectors where ESSD appears, at least formally, to have been most productive.

While representativeness studies compile data on those factors, they allow us to assess whether those hypotheses can be confirmed our countered. For this purpose, a comparative analysis of the representativeness of European Social Partner organisations in 4 different sectors will be conducted: Agriculture, Inland waterway, Footwear and Tanning & Leather.

The Political Theory of European Works Councils; Transnational Trade Unions, Networks and Europeanization

Vasileios Koniaris

University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki Greece, Greece

The aim of this article is to take the current analysis concerning European Works Councils one step further by examining the new political theory behind this form of employees` information and consultation structure. It is suggested that in those successful cases, which are the minority of the current ones, elements of transnationality, networks and identities may constitute a new form of industrial relations based on collaboration between management and employees in the European multinational company. In those cases, attitudes of the representatives differ from traditional industrial relations approach when they are examined in the transnational framework. Also, European Works Councils may act as asymmetric "risk absorbents" concerning globalization, thus offering to the EU the capacity to re-balance her economic and social integration. Evidence for the article is being based on a set of semi-structured interviews that are conducted since the adoption of the Recast Directive 38/2009 and on literature concerning post-industrialism in the EU.

Activation policies : institutional standardization and lived forms of expected work

Didier Demazière1, Marc Zune2

1CSO - Sciences Po Paris; 2University of Louvain, Belgium

The activation of job search behaviour is a key characteristic of the so-called Active Labour Market Policies in many European countries. Based on an incentive paradigm, these policies tend to intensify conditionality to unemployment insurance benefits (UIB) by a greater control of the effectiveness of job search. Numerous critical studies have highlighted the forms of standardization of job search induced by the control agencies, and the underlying pressure for behavioural change and increased responsibility. Our paper seeks to better understand the experience the unemployed under this activation regime, through the original point of view of the one who fail to cope and are sanctioned. Our empirical data is based on a corpus of some 30 in-depth interviews conducted with unemployed who have been definitely excluded from UIB in Belgium in 2015. We firstly describe the gaps between institutional requirements, based on a standard employment reference and an normative conception of job-search, and the subjective interpretations of the unemployed based on heterogeneous experiences of past employment and their present situation combining unemployment and exclusion. Post-exclusion effects are then analysed, highlighting the variety of what we call « the forms of expected work », drawing a large panorama of projections into work activities, often conceived at distance from standard employment, and more or less attainable depending on the relational and biographical resources. Our development helps us, in turn, to contribute to the understanding of the experience of employment after unemployment, and the contemporary transformation of the boundaries between inactivity and employment.

References : Boland T. (2016), WES, 30(2) 334-351 ; Van Oort M. (2015), Ethnography 16(1) 74-94 ; Wright S. (2016), Policy & Politics 44(2) 235-252.

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