The effectiveness of European Works Councils, as a mechanism of voice, for Hungarian workers of UK-owned multinational comanies in the printing, chemical and food industries

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2012
Thesis identifier
  • T13306
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • European Works Councils (EWCs) have received a mixed response amongst policymakers and research critics since their establishment in the mid-1990s. Whilst there are those who are optimistic about their achievements (Coms, 204; Lecher et al, 2001; Lecher and Rub, 1999), there are those who give a more measured response (Hall and Marginson, 2005); Waddington, 2005; Gilman and Marginson, 2002; Carley and Marginson, 2000; Wills, 2000; 1999; Royle, 1999) and those who believe EWCs have failed to offer workers an appropriate mechanism for strengthening the employee voice for workers of multinationals in Europe (Keller, 2002; Ramsay, 1997; Streeck, 1997). In 2004, EU enlargement prompted further European social integration and along with countries from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), Hungary became an accession state. This meant that, for the first time, Hungarian workers of multinational enterprises became participants of new and established EWCs (Voss, 2006). In light of these political and socio-economic developments, this qualitative study, involving three UK-owned case study organisations from the printing, chemical and food industries, assesses whether EWCs are effective in delivering an employee voice for Hungarian workers. Moreover, the study considers how the multinational environment; local voice structures; and the internal dynamics and function of the EWC all shaped Hungarian employee voice. This analysis of EWCs and employee voice is embedded within a Marxist view of the employment relationship, in which power inequalities; management control; and a conflict of interests are believed to lie at the heart (Ackers, 2012; Budd, 2004; Ramsay et al, 2000; Kelly, 1998; Kochan, 1998; Hyman, 1997). The study argues that trade union-led mechanisma remain the more robust and effective channel for counterbalancing the inequalities and providing employee voice (Hyman, 1997; Kelly, 1996; Kirkbride, 1992; Freeman and Medoff, 1984) and the findings show that, in comparison to employee voice, is weak both at a local and European level. Whilst EWCs offer some opportunity for harnessing a voice, this has not been realised through effective pan-European coordination of trade union networks. In conclusion, the study recommends that local trade unions work towards cultivating closer links and strategies with EWCs to create stronger voices and solidarity links for Hungarian workers.
Resource Type
Date Created
  • 2012
Former identifier
  • 948786