The creation of European Works Councils is arguably the most important measure taken in global industrial relations in recent years. Adopted with the primary goal of facilitating European-level workers’ participation in information-sharing and consultation in multinational companies, EWCs have also been central to a wide-ranging process of institution-building at the European level. European Works Councils charts the growth in the number of EWCs and the development of practices associated with EWCs between 1994, when legislation on EWCs was adopted, and 2009, when the initial legislation was amended. Drawing on original, large-scale, survey data, the book shows that the quality of information and consultation is generally poor, thus bringing into question the soft touch legislative approach to employee participation of the European Commission.
The reforms implemented within trade union organizations to accommodate the development of EWCs are explored, together with the initiatives taken to extend the role of EWCs beyond information and consultation to incorporate negotiation. Articulation between EWCs and trade union organizations is shown to be integral to EWCs as institutions of information and consultation, and as a means to influence managerial decision-making. Similarly, the development of EWCs is shown to be a process contested by employers’ organizations and managers on the one hand and labour organizations on the other. The character of this contestation ensures that the category ‘EWC’ includes a wide range of institutional forms and practices.
Table of Contents
1. Setting the Scene 2. The Articulation Activities of European Industry Federations 3. EWC Agreements: The Impact of the Directive on Coverage, Barriers and Content 4. Information, Consultation and Company Restructuring: Views on the Core EWC Agenda 5. EWC Infrastructure: Articulation in the Context of Communication, Training and Collective Identity 6. Beyond the Formal Information and Consultation Agenda 7. From Review to Recast: Contesting the Revision of the Directive 8. Conclusion: Towards a Transnational Industrial Relations Institution
Jeremy Waddington is Professor of Industrial Relations at the University of Manchester and the Project Coordinator for the European Trade Union Institute, Brussels. He has written extensively on trade union structure, organization and activity, and on issues of labour representation in Europe.