Best prices Special offers for members of the PWE book club The cheapest delivery
DOI: 10.33226/0032-6186.2019.10.3
JEL: K31

Unfulfilled dream of European Works Councils. How trade unions lose to multinational corporations

The article attempts to answer the question whether trade unions have been able to use the institution of European Works Councils to strengthen the position of employee representation vis-à-vis multinational corporations. In the author's opinion, problems with building cross-border solidarity of trade unions and their inability to work out joint attitude towards the phenomenon of the transnational company agreements (TCA) make unions’ approach to the role of EWCs increasingly ambivalent. As a result, paradoxically, the management boards of multinationals may  become the main beneficiaries of the existence of the EWCs.

Download article
Keywords: trade unions; European Works Councils; multinational corporations


Adamczyk, S., Surdykowska, B. (2012). The importance of transnational company agreements from the perspective of industrial relations in the new member states: the Polish case. W: S. Leonardi (red.), Transnational Company Agreements. A stepping stone towards a real internationalisation of industrial relations? (151-162). Rome: Edesse.

Adamczyk, S., Surdykowska, B. (2014). Niewykorzystany potencjał europejskiego dialogu społecznego. Roczniki Administracji i Prawa Wyższej Szkoły Humanitas w Sosnowcu, I, 236-275.

Adamczyk, S., Surdykowska, B. (2015). Europejskie układy ramowe – niedoceniana przez związki zawodowe szansa na wymknięcie się z pułapki globalizacji. Monitor Prawa Pracy, (11), 577-581.

Adedayo Ijalaye, D. (1978). The Extension of Corporate Personality in International Law. Oceana.

Arthurs, H. (2014). Making Bricks Without Straw: The Creation of a Transnational Labour Regime. Articles & Book Chapters,1605,,

Artus, I. (2006). Strike action to save the life of a plant is followed by its “honourable death”: The conflict at AEG in Nuremberg. Transfer12(4), 563-575,

Cassese, A. (1986). International Law in the Divided World. Clarendon.

Cata Backer, L. (2011). On the Evolutions of the United Nations’ „Protect-Respect-Governance Remedy”. Santa Clara Journal of International Law, (9), 101-156.

Compa, L. (2014).When in Rome: the exercise of power by foreign multinational companies in the United States. Transfer20(2), 271-293,

Crawford, J. (2012). Brownilie’s Principles of Public International Law. Oxford,

de Brabandere, E. (2010). Human Rights and Transnational Corporations: The Limits of Direct Corporate Responsibility. Human Rights and International Legal Discourse4(1), 66-88.

de Spiegelaere, S., Jagodziński, R. (2016). European Works Councils and SE works councils in 2015. Facts&Figures. Brussels: ETUI.

Durham, W. L. (1984). The Proposed Vredeling Directive: A Modest Proposal of the Exportation of Industrial Democracy. Virginia Law Review70(7), 1469-1503,

ETUC. (2012). Resolution on 6-7 March 2012: „Collective bargaining: The ETUC priorities and working programme”. ETUC.

ETUI. (2019). Benchmarking Working Europe 2019, Brussels: ETUI.

Fetzer, T. (2008). European Works Councils as Risk Communities: The Case of General Motors. European Journal of Industrial Relations14(3), 289-308,

Gill, S. (1998). New constitutionalism, democratisation and global political economy. Pacifica Review: Peace, Security & Global Change, 10(1), 23-38,

Gładoch, M. (2014). Dialog społeczny w zbiorowym prawie pracy. Toruń: TNOiK.

Gould, W. B. (1976). Multinational Corporations and Multinational Unions: Myths, Reality and the Law. The International Lawyer10(4), 655-667.

Hann, D. (2010). The continuing tensions between European Works Councils and trade unions – a comparative study of the financial sector. Transfer16(4), 525-540,

Huzzard, T., Docherty, P. (2005). Between global and local: eight European Works Councils in retrospect and prospect. Economic and Industrial Democracy26(4), 541-568,

Jagodziński, R. (2011). EWCs after 15 years – success or failure? Transfer17(2), 203-216,

Koutroukis, T. (2015). The added value of European Works Councils: A case study approach in Greek subsidiaries. MPRA Paper62741.

Lecher, W. i in. (2001). European Works Councils: Developments, Types and Networking. Aldeshot: Gover.

Levinson, C. (1972). International Trade Unionism. London: Routledge.

Mählmeyer, W., Rampeltshammer, L., Hertwig, M. (2017). European Works Councils during the financial and economic crisis: Activation, stagnation or disintegration? European Journal of Industrial Relations, 23(3), 225-242,

Mueller, F. (1996). National stakeholders in the global contest for corporate investment. European Journal of Industrial Relations2(3), 345–368,

Mueller, F., Purcell, J. (1992). The Europeanization of manufacturing and the decentralization of bargaining: multinational management strategies in the European automobile industry. International Journal of Human Resource Management3(1), 15–34,

Müller, T., Platzer, H. -W. (2003). European Works Councils: a new Mode of EU Regulation and the Emergence of a European multi-level Structure of Workplace Industrial Relations. W: B. Keller, H. -W. Platzer (red.): Industrial Relations and European Integration - Trans- and Supranational Developments and Prospects. London: Routledge, 58-84,

Müller, T., Platzer, H.-W. i Rüb, S. (2010). Transnational company policy and coordination of collective bargaining: New challenges and roles for European industry federations. Transfer, 16(4), 509-524,

OECD. (2018). Multinational enterprises in the global economy Heavily debated but hardly measured, available at:

Pugliano, W., Waddington, J. (2019). Management, European Works Councils and institutional malleability. European Journal of Industrial Relations

Schulten, T. (1996). European works councils: prospects for a new system of industrial relations. European Journal of Industrial Relations2(3), 303-324,

Skupień, D. (2008). Europejskie rady zakładowe. Toruń: TNOiK.

Streeck, W. (1997). Neither European nor works councils: a reply to Paul Knutsen. Economic and Industrial Democracy18(2), 325-337,

Telljohann, V., da Costa, I., Müller, T., Rehfeldt, U., Zimmer, R. (2009). European and international framework agreements: new tools of transnational industrial relations. Transfer15(3-4): 505- 525,

Timming, A. R. (2007). European Works Councils and the dark side of managing worker voice. Human Resource Management Journal, 17(3), 248–264,

UNCTAD. (1993). World Investment Report. New York-Geneva.

UNCTAD. (2010). World Investment Report. New York-Geneva.

Waddington, J. (2011). European works councils. A transnational industrial relations institution in the making. New York/Abington: Routledge,

Waddington, J., Kerckhofs, P. (2003). European Works Councils: what is the current state of play. Transfer9(2), 303-325,

Whittall, M. (2000). The BMW European Works Council: a cause for European industrial relations optimism? European Journal of Industrial Relations6(1), 61-83,

Wratny, J. (2019). Fenomen partycypacji pracowniczej w nurcie przemian stosunków pracy. Warszawa: C.H. Beck.

Zambrana Téva, N. (2012). Shortcomings and Disadvantages of Existing Legal Mechanism to Hold Multinational Accountable for Human Rights Violations. Cuadernos de Derecho Transnational4(2), 397-410.

Price of the magazine number
158.00 €
get subscription