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1 Transnational trade union strategies in European wage policy Empirical evidences from the metal sector Conferece: ‘Getting Europe back to work. Alternatives.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Transnational trade union strategies in European wage policy Empirical evidences from the metal sector Conferece: ‘Getting Europe back to work. Alternatives."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Transnational trade union strategies in European wage policy Empirical evidences from the metal sector Conferece: ‘Getting Europe back to work. Alternatives to Austerity ’ Brussels, 6 November 2013 Vera Glassner University of Linz, Austria

2 2 Why wage policy coordination?  (Forthcoming) EMU: -Common monetary policy in Eurozone -Non-accommodating monetary regime of ECB: main aim containment of inflation -‚Convergence criteria‘ Stability and Growth Pact: balanced public budgets and control of public debt  Pressure on wages as parameter to adjust to imbalances in international (cost) competitiveness  Pressure on wage setting institutions, in particular centralised MEB.

3 3 Trade unions as actors in Europeanisation of wage policy  EU ‚enlargements‘: increasing heterogeneity of IR and welfare regimes  Asymmetry of social and economic integration of EU: capital mobility vs. nationally embedded trade unions  Withdrawal of European Commission in European social policy and social dialogue  TNCs and employers‘ associations: No interest in European social dialogue and wage policy coordination (making use of regime variation)  unilateral initiatives to coordinate wage bargaining across borders by European and national trade unions : based on transnational solidarity (vs. wage competition)!

4 4 Determinants of transnational union cooperation  Transnational trade union action in the context of governance crisis and wage political interventionism (decentralisation of wage setting, pressure on public sector wages & employment, labour market deregulation and restricting trade union and employees‘ rights) in Europe  Standard assumption: conflicting national interests and differences in the national systems of industrial relations - competition prevail over cooperation  Eastern enlargement has further decreased the likelihood of trade union cooperation  Counter evidences  Example I: Creation of structures and instruments for wage coordination in the European metal sector  Example II: Transnational union union cooperation at GM Europe/Opel (before crisis)

5 5 Three arguments: WHY do trade unions cooperate? 1) (Power)positions of actors shaped by their material interests and availability of (legitimate) resources (structural, associational and institutional power). 2) Institutions at (trans)national/supranational level promote or hinder transnational solidarity between trade unions: Three pillars of institutions (Scott 1995; 2001; 2008): REGULATIVE e.g. labour law NORMATIVE e.g. normative pressure on employers to participate in multi- employer bargaining CULTURAL-COGNITIVE e.g. understanding of solidarity Basis of cooperation Utilitaristic considerations, ‚appropriateness‘ Avoidance of (legal) sanctions Moral obligation Compliance to ‚appropriate‘ social expectations Common understanding, Internalisation of unconcious, ‚taken-for- granted‘ frames of interpretation

6 6 Empirical evidences – the effects of supportive institutions DACH DE, AT, CH Nordiska Metall SE, FI, NO, IC Bargaining Network Western Europe BE, NL, DE Bargaining Network Nordic Europe SE, FI, DK, NO, IC Early cross-border coordination initiatives (1960s, 1970s) Transnational CB networks (since late 1990s)

7 7 Institutional power resources at national level (metal sector) Regulative/normative institutions: DE: -decentralisation of CB (opening clauses), -organisational weakness of unions in (services) sector results in wage restraint BE: -Law on safeguarding of international competitiveness AT, DE, DK, SE, NO, FI, BE, NL: -Decentralisation of CB and flexibilisation of wage setting -Deregulation of labour markets -Orgnisational weakening of trade unions Institutions supporting transnational cooperation Regulative/normative institutions: AT, DE, DK, SE, NO, FI, BE, NL: -Highly coordinated and inclusive MEB (sector level), -Practice to extend collective agreements (BE, lesser in DE, NL) -strong role of social partners in public policy making, Cutural-cognitive institutions: -Welfare state traditions (social democrat, corporatist) -Productivity-oriented wage policy perceived as ‘solidaristic’ -Trade union identities Insitutions hampering transnational cooperation/promoting transnational competition

8 8 Institutional power resources at transnational level (metal sector) Institutions supporting transnational cooperation Regulative/normative institutions: Viking and Laval rulings of ECJ General: -Weakening of institutions such as ESD and European labour law -Economic governance: European Semester (‘excessive deficits’, ‘excessive imbalances’) Regulative/normative institutions: 1993:EMF ‘Principles of CB policy coordination’ 1997: Transnational bargaining networks 1998: EMF CB coordination rule Cutural-cognitive institutions: -Common language (DE, AT, CH) -Cultural closeness and long experience of cross-border exchange and interaction -Common welfare state traditions (social democrat and corporatist) -Productivity-oriented wage policy perceived as ‘solidaristic’ Insitutions hampering transnational cooperation/promoting transnational competition

9 9 Trade union strategies at the level of TNCs: The Opel case (DE and PL plants) Before the crisis ( ) Europeanisation: transnational cooperation (collective bargaining, mobilisation, industrial action) During and after the crisis ( ) (Re)nationalisation: political lobbying, logic of influence (e.g. car scrapping schemes, extension of short-time work regulation), strengthening influence at company level.

10 10Titel/Ersteller, Datum Determinants (Institutional strategies) Institutional power Associational power Structural power (Institutional) Strategies employers (Institutional) Strategies state actors Political lobbying, (sub)national Low (tripartism not important in DE and PL) High: high union densities car industry: % DE; % PL; High: high share of qualified workers, partly scarencess (e.g. eastern DE and south PL) Threat to relocate (DE) Labour market flexibilisation (DE, PL) Collective bargaining (sub)national transnational (global) High DE: MEB and industry collective agreements, CB autonomy; Low in PL: SEB, no industry coll. agreements, no employers‘ association etc. Medium: CB coordination within EMF (EEF), Europ./International Framework Agreements High (see above) High: see above Low: Increase of flexible employment forms, outsourcing (cost pressurce, overcapacities..) Use of opening clauses in coll. Agreements, ‚Concession Bargaining‘ (DE); coercive cost comparisons, ‚Benchmarks‘ between locations (DE, PL) Labour market flexibilisation (DE, PL) Opel plants DE and PL before the crisis: Transnational cooperation of unions

11 11Titel/Ersteller, Datum Determinants (Institutional strategies) Institutional power Associational power Structural power (Institutional) Strategies employers (Institutional) Strategies state actors Employee participation (sub)national transnational (global) High: WC and co- determination rights (DE) Lower in PL High: EWC GM Europe (EEF) General WC Opel High: strong presence of unionists in WCs (DE, PL) High: high share of qualified workers; segmentation of Low: labour force (weakening of bargaining and organisational power) ‚conflict partnership‘ (DE) ‚low-trust‘ relations WCs and unions (PL) Legal regulation workers participation, implementation of EU Directive in PL Industrial action, mobilisation (sub)national transnational (global) High: ‚strike funds‘ of unions (DE) Lower in PL: trade union pluralism and rivalry Medium: European Action Days GM Europe High: High union densities (but declining in PL) Low: segmentation of labour force Relocation threats to break strikes Decisions of ECJ weaken right to strike (subordinated to market freedoms) Opel plants DE and PL before the crisis: Transnational cooperation of unions

12 12Titel/Ersteller, Datum Determinants (Institutional strategies) Institutional power Associatio nal power Structural power (Institutional) Strategies employers (Institutional) Strategies state actors Political lobbying, corporatism (sub)national High: Political lobbying, industry policy in DE (low in PL) High: high union density: 70-90% DE; % PL; High: high share of highly- skilled workers, in part, lack in key industries (strong export- orientation) Threats to relocate production (DE and PL) Maintenance of qualified labour Industry policy (e.g. car scrapping schemes) Collective bargaining (sub)national transnational (global) High DE: MEB and industry coll. Agreements, CB autonomy; Low in PL: SEB, no industry coll. agreement, no employer association.. Low: Decline of CB coordination within EMF, within EWC, no new Europ./International Framework Agreements High (see above) Low: cost pressurce, overcapacities. Redundancies of agency workers etc., concession bargaining (restructuring agreement Opel); increasing competition between locations Employment policy, e.g. short- time work in DE (PL) Opel plants DE and PL during the crisis: (Re-)nationalisation and end of transnational cooperation?

13 13Titel/Ersteller, Datum Determinants (Institutional strategies) Institutional power Associational power Structural power (Institutional) Strategies employers (Institutional) Strategies state actors Employee participation (sub)national transnational (global) High: WC and co- determination rights (DE) Lower in PL Low: Declining transnational cooperation within EWC High: strong presence of unionists in WCs (DE, PL) High: high share of highly-skilled workers; increasing unemployment (PL) ‚conflict partnership‘ (DE) ‚low-trust‘ relations WCs and unions (PL) Legal regulation workers participation, implementation of EU Directive in PL Industrial action, mobilisation (sub)national transnational (global) High: ‚strike funds‘ of unions (DE) Lower in PL: trade union pluralism and rivalry Low: No transnational mobilisation by EEF GM Europe High: High union densities (but declining in PL) Low: segmentation of labour force (temporary declining due to redundancies of agency workers) Relocation threats to break strikes Decisions of ECJ weaken right to strike (subordinated to market freedoms) Opel plants DE and PL during the crisis: (Re-)nationalisation and end of transnational cooperation?

14 14 Conclusions  Explanation of transnational union cooperation in wage policy needs to take account of both material interests and institutional embeddedness of trade union behaviour  Institutions (rules, norms, culture) may provide support to transnational trade union action (or might limit it)  Structural and associational power (low unemployment/scarceness of high-skilled labour; union density, union presence plant level etc.)  Supportive institutions can be set up by trade unions themselves (bargaining coordination networks, EEF GM Europe)  However, in order to create transnationally supportive institutions of wage bargaining coordination, (European) state support is an absolute precondition for a solidaristic wage policy that also includes the employers‘ side

15 15 Thank you for your attention!


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