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Transnational Company Agreements

Although most global agreements are concluded with international trade union organisations, agreements reached at European level, as is increasingly the case, can be concluded with European Works Councils (EWCs) or European trade unions or both. Over the past two decades, cross-border labour relations have developed steadily but in interesting ways. The steady increase in transnational enterprise agreements (TKA) in a legal “no man`s land” shows the motivation of labour and management relations to address the social consequences of globalization, in most cases in terms of anticipation and participation in changes in sectors such as chemistry, metals, services, wood, food, tourism and textiles. The TTCs are the result of negotiations between the various multinational companies (MNEs) and trade unions at the global and European level. The different terminology used for the name of TTCs varies, from international framework agreements (IFAs) to global framework agreements (GFAs) to global agreements. Recent terminology, emanating from the European Commission, distinguishes international framework agreements and European framework agreements (EFAs). With regard to simple reading, the terminology used in this chapter is the TCA, including international and European framework agreements, specifying, if any, whether IFAs or SEAs are heard in a given context. Companies may choose not to disclose the terms of transnational agreements because they are not subject to legislation. There are no notifications, no rules for implementation and no mechanisms for monitoring or resolving disputes. Transnational enterprise agreements in European multinational companies have contributed to the Europeanisation of industrial relations. Although the European Commission sees these agreements as an innovative instrument of cooperation, it has yet to define a legal framework for these agreements. EURACTIV.fr reports.

These results indicate that, in practice(1), EECs go beyond their formal function of information and consultation more often than scientists and policy makers – and many trade unions – acknowledge; (2) The regulation of labour relations and working conditions at European level is encouraged by more companies than previously thought. and (3) Since these developments are taking place in a legal vacuum, it is necessary to put in place an optional legal framework at European level, which guarantees trade unions bargaining rights, according to their own internal procedures.