Edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Jimmy Donaghey, Tony Dundon and Richard B. Freeman
In recent decades employers and policymakers in most westernized economies have shown increased interest and sponsorship towards company specific forms of non-union employee representation (NER). The attractiveness of NER to both employers and policymakers has materialized against a backdrop of competitive pressures allied to emerging legal developments. Regulations such as the European Information and Consultation Directive enable employers, should they wish, to introduce NER as a new voice right for employees (but not necessarily unions) to receive information and be consulted on a range of employment and business matters. However, the evidence to date in the UK and Ireland suggests that employers have rarely used this directive to implement new forms of NER, more often than not opting to preserve direct individualized voice channels (Hall et al., 2011; Dundon and Collings, 2011). Evidently, legal arrangements influencing NER differ widely across Europe, with the likes of the UK and Ireland favouring direct channels while other parts of Europe, such as Germany, prefer indirect collective structures of worker engagement. Declining trade union density has also fed into rising interest in alternatives to union-only collective forms of voice delivery (Gomez et al., 2010). For example, protest and anger about spiralling corporate executive pay has sparked calls by the High Pay Commission in the UK for employee representatives to be consulted on such matters and placed on company remuneration boards (High Pay Commission, 2012).
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