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Examine the implications of EU for European industrial relations - Essay Example

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Examine the implications of EU for European industrial relations

The effects of advancing European integration on national systems of industrial relations, and the associated need for a systematic analysis of the conditions, forms, and direction of the Europeanisation and 'supranationalisation' of industrial relations, have long ago attracted the attention of researchers. Although a number of valuable comparative studies have appeared in the last decade (Ferner and Hyman 1992; Hyman and Ferner 1997; Bispinck and Lecher 1999), by and large these have not concerned themselves with the specific context of the European Union and the transnational dimension of industrial relations. (Wolfgang Lecher, 133) In particular, there has been almost no systematic consideration of the interaction between and consequences of the co-existence and superimposition of supranational and national relations between state actors and the parties to collective bargaining, both for systems of industrial relations and for broader areas of policy at the various levels of the European Union's multi-tiered system of governance. Similarly, there has been little research into the effects of the horizontal interaction between differing national systems of industrial relations and approaches to social and economic organization which are embedded in the same EMU and, as a result, are subject to the pressures of mutual regime competition.
According to Jelle Visser ( prior to the EMU, industrial relations in member states seemed to follow one of two broad tracks:
1. Attempts at cross-border co-ordination among trade unions in continental welfare states and in what broadly can be described as the D-mark zone (Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and, although not member of EMU, Denmark) to seek wage increases within specified parameters and thereby preventing upward wage pressure (endangering monetary stability) and downward wage competition and social dumping.
2. The adoption of or attempt at tripartite Social Pacts in peripheral or 'catch-up' countries outside the D-mark zone (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece) and those prospective EMU members which were confronted with deep structural changes (Ireland, Finland), prioritising national competitiveness, addressing crisis situations and preparing for EMU membership.
This view sets out from the position that the developments referred to above constitute structuring elements in a future system of European industrial relations, organised around two dynamic poles-the company-centred transnational level and an overarching macro level, with its institutional focus in the 'social dialogue'.
It expects the guaranteed rights to information and consultation which will result from the across-the-board establishment of European works councils (EWCs) in the wake of the Directive to create the foundations for the possibility of company-based collective bargaining on issues such as training and working time. Moreover, EWCs are to promote the conver gence of workplace employee representation across Europe and act as a catalyst for the harmonisation of trade union policies on employment issues and collective bargaining. (Wolfgang Lecher, 135) This optimistic standpoint sees a positive link between trade union demands for participation, on the one hand, and the establishment of new post-Fordist systems of production and ...Show more


Social and economic policies within nation states have a variety of objectives, most of which can only be approached, not attained. Many of these objectives may conflict in the sense that further progress towards one involves less progress towards another, or even divergence from it…
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Examine the implications of EU for European industrial relations essay example
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