Negotiations at multinational company level?

Date04 January 2008
Published date04 January 2008
AuthorJohn Gennard
Negotiations at multinational
company level?
John Gennard
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK
Purpose – The purpose of this editorial is to examine the internal procedure for negotiations at
multinational company level devised by the European Metalworkers Federation.
Design/methodology/approach – The editorial outlines the EU Commission’s social agenda
between 2000 and 2010, examining the trade union position of the social partners.
Findings – The European Commission has decided to prepare proposals for the introduction of a
legal framework for collective bargaining at transnational sector level and within multi-national
corporations. The exact details of these proposals are presently unknown. Employers have expressed
opposition to EU-wide company collective agreements. The trade unions, on the other hand, have
decided pending legislation on transnational negotiations to define guidelines with a view to
promoting collective bargaining, if necessary with European companies.
Originality/value – The editorial offers insight into negotiations at multinational company level.
Keywords Multinationalcompanies, Negotiating, Collectivebargaining, European Union
Paper type Viewpoint
1. The EU Commission’s Social Agenda, 2000-2010
In 2005 the European Commission published its Social Agenda 2000-2010, the social
policy dimension of the refocused Lisbon growth and jobs strategy. It proposed to
develop an optional Europea n Framework for transnationa l bargaining. The
framework will provide for the possibility to conclude transnational collective
agreements either at the company level, i.e. in multinational companies with
production capacity or service provision in more than one EU country or at the sector
level, namely covering a certain sector (e.g. shipbuilding, engineering, etc.) in all EU
countries. The objective of the Commission’s proposal will be to support companies
and sectors by providing them with an innovative tool to adapt to changing
circumstances and to provide cost-effective transnational responses. Thus the Soci al
Agenda argues would further multinational companies and sectors to manage
challenges concerning issues such as work organisation, employment, working
conditions and training.
This proposed action by the Commission was unexpected since it had not been
discussed in advance with the European-wide trade unions and employers’
organisations. The issue of transnational collective bargaining, however, is new to
the Commission. In 1985 it had proposed the idea of European Collective Agreements.
The Community Charter of Fundamental Social Rights for Workers, signed in 1989,
made reference to collective agreements at European Level, while the issue of
transnational trade union rights was debated in the European Parliament in 1996-1998.
The Parliament concluded that the right to engage in collective bargaining needed to
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Employee Relations
Vol. 30 No. 2, 2008
pp. 100-103
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/01425450810845607

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