9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN17 Industrial Relations, Labour Market Institutions and Employment

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Europeanization and Internationalization of Industrial Relations: Regulations and Processes Building AA, Auditório Silva Leal

The Internationalisation of Enterprises from a Legal Perspective

My contribution is intended to deal with the Internationalization of Enterprises from a legal perspective, which is a special focus on the 2nd sub-topic of RN17: "Industrial relations and multinational enterprises".

The German and the Austrian laws know special provisions on Industrial relations, which had been grown and developed by legislation as well as by numerous court decisions over decades. Recent decisions of Austrian and German Courts of Justice and experts' discussions show new legal questions arising in connection with the Internationalization of Enterprises. Here are some examples:

- Code of Business Conduct: International Group of Companies intend to introduce codes of business conducts, which include special employees' duties touching their private sphere and unfamiliar to German and Austrian law traditions. Additionally, the employees' participation as known in these countries is tried to be circumvented.

- Employees' participation within international groups of companies: The works council system as known in Germany and Austria is not applicable (to a full extent) to branches of international companies. Provisions by the European Union may give some support, but do not help for a lack of information about the structure of the enterprise, which is typical only for international cases.

These topics mainly concern employees' participation and the role of works councils. The structure of these legal questions and the way they are - more or less - solved show us that the internationalization of enterprises causes management decisions and procedures that do not harmonise with our legal provisions. Such measures seem to be not only the result of "bad practise", but sometimes they simply do not match with the German/Austrian traditions.

The final conclusion seems to be that the internationalization creates a need for international provisions, because the differences in national laws and traditions make them less effective dealing with international cases.