Chapter 8: Consultation, Participation and Industrial Democracy in Europe
8.1 INTRODUCTION The social dialogue and the quality of industrial relations are at the centre of the European Social Model. In our opening chapters we have noted how the promotion of social dialogue became a key driving force behind the post-Lisbon economic and social reforms. So far we have concentrated our discussion on social dialogue at the European level; in this chapter we address a range of policies which target consultation and participation at the workplace level. In particular we are concerned with legislation which affect employers’ decision-making processes, what Bercusson (2002) has called the evolution of EU policy on labour in the enterprise. In a simple ‘right-to-manage’ model it is assumed that efficient market economies require employers to have sole responsibility for decision-making. Collective bargaining allows interest representation but does not fundamentally question this managerial right to manage. Managers’ search for maximum profits will ensure that they take into account in their decision-making process employee and customer interests. As we noted in Chapter 3, employment contracts are often incomplete by design, because the employer cannot fully specify in advance the particular tasks that it will require its employees to perform. As Collins (2002) points out, the contract by specifying the obligation of obedience to management, grants employers the right to direct workers as they see fit. However this traditional contract provides little incentive for workers to actively co-operate with employers. As we discussed in Chapter 3, given the presence of asymmetric information, externalities and long-term relationships between workers and...
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