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The added value of European Works Councils: A case study approach in Greek subsidiaries

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

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As reported in similar studies, the necessity for social cohesion and workers motivation had as a result the adoption of EU 94/45/EC on European Works Councils (EWCs). This fact has been the cornerstone of the venture to establish a social dimension of the European Union, since it gives employees the right to information and consultation as part of the effort to develop a socially responsible transnational management. This paper includes several results of a conducted research on the introduction and functioning of European Works Councils in the Greek industrial relations system. The research concentrated on the oil/lubricants and food/beverage sectors. More specifically, the scope of the research was to test the hypothesis that EWCs create added value (positive or negative) in industrial relations within subsidiaries of MNCs in Greece and to explore the determining factors of that fact, using a qualitative approach in a combination of several case studies and interviews with representatives of the parties concerned. The research findings indicate that on the one hand EWCs contribute to the creation of positive added value (benefits) to those companies and on the other hand the negative added value (costs) is very limited. Furthermore, this paper searches the contributing factors to the EWCs added value such as internationalisation of the company, trade union structure, previous experience on workers participation schemes etc. The paper concludes that EWCs are more effective in internationalised corporations, which face the challenge of more concentrated industrial relations at a transnational level (Euro-companies) than in other enterprises, which adopt a more decentralised and national-oriented industrial relations model. Moreover, according to the research findings, whereas the European trade unions have acted for several years as pressure groups for the adoption of EWC directive, the MNCs meet the most important benefits by the EWCs function.

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