Restructuring processes in the household appliances industry and worker participation at European level
IRES Emilia-Romagna IRES Emilia-Romagna Bologna, Italy
The paper looks at the nature and extent of restructuring processes and its significance for industrial relations in the European household appliances industry. The contribution will present the results of a research project on restructuring processes in the household appliances industry that was carried out in 2007. The research project was based on case studies that included the four major producers of large household appliances: Whirlpool, Electrolux, Indesit Company, and Bosch-Siemens Hausgeräte.
In the paper the different approaches to restructuring in the cases of the four major white goods manufacturers will be examined. Although there is a generalised trend towards relocation in the context of broader restructuring strategies the analysed cases show that there are substantial differences in the way to managing change processes. These differences regard, in particular,
- the strategy of restructuring chosen to increase competitiveness,
- the actors involved and their role in the context of restructuring processes as well as
- the form and level of social regulation.
The analysis of the four cases contributes to identifying new and innovative experiences of collective bargaining capable of reaching negotiated solutions in the context of restructuring processes. In this context the role of the various actors and the interaction between different regulatory levels will be examined in depth. The paper will look in particular at the role of EWCs with regard to the social regulation of restructuring processes at transnational level. The paper will analyse the limits and contradictions that were experienced by EWCs in the context of restructuring processes. The contribution will analyse the shortcomings of the directive 94/45/EC and try to show to what extent the revised EWC directive might contribute to improving the premises for a more effective action of EWCs. Furthermore, the paper will analyse the factors having impeded so far a successful application of the European trade union coordination strategy in the context of the restructuring processes in the European household appliances industry. In the conclusions the paper will try to identify the prerequisites for a higher efficacy of EWC action in the context of transnational restructuring processes.