Comparative Employment Relations in Europe: Work and Democracy under International Pressure

The current economic crisis, with diverging outcomes in terms of employment in countries like Germany as opposed to countries like the UK or Spain, have revealed the ongoing relevance of comparative industrial relations, but also the need for its renewal. The hitherto dominating approaches, based on institutions and national `models', do not pay sufficient attentions to change and to international factors. This book fills the gap by tracing the patterns of change in industrial relations in the six largest EU countries during the last twenty years, under the pressure of three crucial international forces: multinational companies, labour migration, and EU policies. Based on two year of intensive first-hand research in the six countries, it presents an integrated argument on the ongoing relevance of national political traditions in the ways international pressures on employment relations are dealt with. It will conclude that despite twenty years of international liberalisation, the labour market remains an essentially political construction, whose understanding requires attention to the diversity of social actors, as well as to their increasing cross-border relations. This diagnosis has important implications for the nature of democracy and social rights in the European Union. Written in an accessible language and enriched by empirical case studies, it will be aimed at researchers, practitioners, undergraduate and postgraduate students.