Transnational industrial democracy?
Workers‘ voice across borders in transnational companies
Isabel da Costa, CNRS, IDHES, ENS Paris Saclay
The debate about what kind of voice, democracy or participation workers should have at the workplace and as citizens in the political arena, has been on-going ever since Sidney and Beatrice Webb coined the term "Industrial Democracy" over a century ago. A variety of alternative visions uphold by different social movements emerged throughout the 20th century across the globe, intended on bringing democracy to the workplace and the political arena. Unlike a century ago, when the Webbs addressed alliances between the Trade Unions and the Labour Party, in this era of globalization and digitalization, disaffiliation from unions and distrust of political elites, distressed workers and citizens are increasingly attracted to modern day Populist and totalitarian rhetorics that promise divisive and nationalist solutions to their problems.
In an increasingly globalized world and digital economy is employee participation and the regulation of employment relations going to remain at the national level or is some form(s) of industrial and representative democracy possible beyond national borders?
Based on past and ongoing research (da Costa and Rehfeldt, 2008; Telljohann, da Costa et al 2009; da Costa and Rehfeldt, 2011; da Costa et al 2012; da Costa 2017) about transnational company agreements (TCAs), this communication proposes to contribute to the debate about what kind of voice, democracy or participation employees and their representatives have when they work for a global company, by addressing the issue at the transnational level, i.e. by analyzing the representation of workers/employees at the level of transnational companies and thus the consequences of globalization in terms of the democratization, or lack of democracy, of employment relations.
- da Costa I. (2017), Cross Borders Social Dialogue and Industrial Relations: Recent Trends and Issues, ILO Working Paper (unpublished report).
- da Costa I., Pulignano V., Rehfeldt U. and Telljohann V. (2012), “Transnational Negotiations and the Europeanization of Industrial Relations: Potentials and Obstacles” in: European Journal of Industrial Relations, vol.18, n°2, June, p.123-39.
- da Costa I., Rehfeldt U. (2011), « Les négociations collectives transnationales: dynamiques des accords-cadres européens et mondiaux », La Revue de l’IRES, n°71, 2011/4, p.95-126.
- Isabel da Costa & Udo Rehfeldt (coordonnateurs), numéro spécial "La participation des salariés au niveau européen : comités d’entreprise européens, société européenne, syndicats européens" de La Revue de l'IRES n°71, 2011/4. http://www.ires-fr.org/publications/la-revue-de-lires/493-revue-de-lires...
- Isabel da Costa & Udo Rehfeldt (2011): "Transnational Restructuring Agreements : General Overview and Specific Evidence from the European Automobile Sector", in Konstantinos Papadakis. (ed.), Shaping Global Industrial Relations: The Impact of International Framework Agreements .Geneva: International Labour Office/Palgrave Macmillan, collection: Advances in Labour Studies: 143-163. http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?pid=526248
- Telljohann V., da Costa I., Müller T., Rehfeldt U., Zimmer R. (2009a), European and International Framework Agreements – Practical Experiences and Strategic Approaches, Eurofound, Luxembourg, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.
- da Costa I., Rehfeldt U. (2008), « Transnational Collective Bargaining at Company Level: Historical Developments », in Papadakis K. (ed.), Cross-Border Social Dialogue and Agreements: An emerging global industrial relations framework?, Geneva, ILO.
- Isabel da Costa (1996): « L'étude des relations industrielles : passé, présent, avenir », in Gregor Murray, Marie-Laure Morin, Isabel da Costa, eds. : L'état des relations professionnelles, Les Presses de l'Université Laval et Octarés Editions. http://www.octares.com/boutique_fiche.asp?IdProd=23