Employee participation facing transnational reorganisation


Informing and consulting employees in transnational companies with operations in the European Union has become an essential process for developing European industrial relations. The adoption by the Council of Europe of Directive 94/45/EC of 22 September 1994 on the establishment of a European Works Council or a procedure in Community-scale undertakings and Community-scale groups of undertakings for the purposes of informing and consulting employees has resulted in the establishment of European Works Councils in 784 companies, according to the European Trade Union Institute for 2006. The information and consultation of European workers is a product of the regulatory effort undertaken by the EU institutions, intending to develop a framework of common labour and social standards to accompany the process of economic integration at the regional level.

The last decades have seen major transformations in the world of work. The creation of large economic areas (including the European Union itself) has facilitated the concentration of corporate decision-making processes. The spread of new communication technologies is a key factor in this concentration. It has allowed company managements to move from thinking of their operations in essentially national terms to managing them in an increasingly transnational way. As a result, corporate decision-making has become a process that transcends national boundaries, introducing new tensions in company labour relations. Information and consultation at the European level are of great importance under these new conditions. It is the main initiative to ensure the representation of workers’ interests in the transnational company.

EWCs have been the subject of intense academic interest in recent times. As a result, a significant amount of research has addressed the study of these information and consultation bodies from a quantitative or legal perspective.

In recent years, however, a new stream of qualitative research has emerged. Using a case study methodology, has examined and compared individual experiences of employee information and consultation in European companies.