Conference Agenda

RN17_01a: European Social Dialogue
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Ylva Ulfsdotter Eriksson, University of Gothenburg
Location: UP.1.218
University of Manchester Building: University Place, First Floor Oxford Road


Multi-National Enterprises and European Social Dialogue After Enlargement – Opportunism In Asymmetric Relationships

Barbara Bechter1, Thomas Prosser2, Sabrina Weber3, Larsson Bengt4, Galetto Manuela5

1Durham University, United Kingdom; 2Cardiff University, united Kingdom; 3Pforzheim University, Germany; 4Gothenburg University, Sweden; 5Warwick University, United Kingdom

The integration of Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries into the European Union (EU) in 2004 has increased the level of heterogeneity and competition within it. Greater competition arises from the imbalance between economic and social standards in established Western European member states compared to CEE countries. In the absence of sectoral structures for social dialogue in many CEE countries, the capacity to fight regime competition and to mitigate downward pressures on social standards at the national level is limited. This study examines the role of multi-national companies in transnational social dialogue aimed at establishing social standards and counteracting downward pressures on wages and working conditions in the EU. In the past, where cooperation occurred between social actors, it was strongly motivated by economic self-interest. This paper examines the role played by heterogeneous actors in the old and new member states since 2004 and their motivation to cooperate or compete with each other over the potential “losses” and “gains” of European social dialogue outcomes. Acknowledgement

The research for this paper was financially supported by the European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. Call for proposals: Improving expertise in the field of industrial relations. Project VP/2016/0092 (2016-2018).

Visible and Invisible Hands in the Transnational Wage Setting in Europe

Aarron Jason Jake Toal

Durham University, United Kingdom

This paper addresses the question how in Europe a common transnational strategy among industrial relations actors and cooperation between actors can evolve over time and what the consequences are. More specifically, if a common transnational strategy and cooperation is beneficial not only for industrial relations actors themselves, but also for the economy and society, is a common strategy evolving by itself on basis of existing formal and informal institutional channels of interactions over time or do we need new institutions, rules and incentives from ‘outside’? And if new institutions and rules are needed which of them are politically feasible and realistic? In other words are the mutual benefits sufficient so that national actors can pull themselves towards a common strategy or, in the case of Europe, do national actors need to be pushed by European ‘authorities’? In any way a common strategy among national actors is a question of transnational coordination between actors which only works under certain conditions. On basis of results of a current research project and of previous case studies the prerequisites and conditions for transnational coordination between actors are identified and integrated in a micro theoretical model of action and interaction. With this approach, different formal and informal institutional channels of interactions are analysed in order to explain how a European ‘system’ of industrial relations can be established and maintained over time.

Representativeness Of Social Partners In The Public Sector.

Peter Kerckhofs

Eurofound, Ireland

The public sector can be distinguished from the private sector, in certain aspects of working conditions and industrial relations settings. The standard concepts, on which the representativeness of trade unions and employer are based, come from the private sector context. This paper aims to explore how representativeness is conceived differently in the public sector.

In 2017, Eurofound already published a representativeness study for the central government administration. In the course of 2019, data is being collected for representativeness studies for the education sector, the hospital and health care sector, local regional administration, and social services. Combining the experience from conducting the central government administration study, with a first analysis of the preliminary findings from education, hospitals, local regional administration and social services, will allow to present differences and particularities of how representativeness is conceived in public sectors, in general terms.

These reflections will be embedded, in a literature review on industrial relations specificities from the public sector. Furthermore, there will be focussed in this paper on how the employment setting in local regional administration, can affect the representativeness of trade unions and employers, in this specific public sector.

Regulation At Work: From Europe To The Shop Floor. The Case Of Telework In Belgium

Michel Ajzen, Evelyne Léonard

UCLouvain, Belgium

In 2002, European social partners signed the European Framework Agreement on Telework with the aim to define general guidelines for the UE 27 countries (Larsen et Andersen, 2007). While some countries transposed the European measures into ‘soft law’, other member states negotiated those measures in terms of regulations, obligations, standard rights and decisions (Eurofound, 2010). A large body of literature questions the effects of ‘multi-level governance’ or of non-legally binding commitments included in EU agreements on national-level social dialogue and on companies (e.g. Ertel et al, 2010; Léonard, 2008; Weber, 2010). However very little is known about the effects of a ‘European autonomous agreement’ on lower levels, and particularly on actual practices on the shop floor (Deakin and Koudiaki, 2008; Prosser, 2011). This paper examines to what extent a European-level agreement affects practices within companies. More precisely, it analyses the diverse social processes by which norms at play are interpreted, re-interpreted, transformed, avoided or simply forgotten (Reynaud, 2004), at different levels where actors interact, from the European level to the shop floor. Our aim is, precisely, to highlight social dynamics that occur from the negotiation of teleworking practices to their effective uses. This, in turn, questions the capacity of macro-level players to set up norms that have efficient impact at work. In terms of empirical work, we draw upon qualitative data (108 interviews) gathered in two companies located in Belgium. Research results highlight local re-regulation of the work activity such as time arrangements, workspaces relocation or work organization.