9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN17 Industrial Relations, Labour Market Institutions and Employment

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Worker Particiption in Europe and Europeanization of Worker Participation Building AA, Auditório Silva Leal

Transnational Framework Agreements: New Forms of Participation in Multinaltional Companies?

The paper is based on the results of a research project carried out in 2007 and 2008 on behalf of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. It will argue that when analysing transnational framework agreements (TFAs) it is necessary to distinguish between European Framework Agreements (EFA) and International Framework Agreements (IFA) as they show different characteristics with regard to scope, signatories, content and the processes of implementation and monitoring. It will then concentrate on the strategies of the employer and union organisations involved in signing the agreements. The analysis of the IFA-related strategies of the different Global Union Federations (GUFs) shows that their approaches vary depending on the specific situation of the sector in which they operate, on the evaluation of previous experience with IFAs and on the internal constellation of interests and power among their national affiliates.

EWCs play a crucial role in the growing number of EFAs. Some EWCs developed their internal working, communication and networking capacities in ways which enabled them to go beyond a mere information and consultation role by initiating European-level negotiations. Also management increasingly discovered European-level negotiations as a tool to facilitate the introduction of transnational policies and as a tool to avoid conducting multiple negotiations in each individual country. The European Industry Federations increasingly see the need to develop effective mechanisms of coordinating company-level activities involving EWCs as well as national trade unions and structures of interest representation.

With regard to the contribution of TFAs to the Europeanisation and/or internationalisation of industrial relations the paper argues that TFAs are a qualitatively new instrument for industrial relations at the global level that instils recognition of social partnership across national borders, and yields entirely new forms of social regulation at the global level. The number of TFAs is, however, still very limited and they are clearly concentrated in TNCs whose headquarters are located in social market economies characterised by collective interest representation as the basis for the regulation of work and the labour market.