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Posted: 27 February 2008

'Labor’s quest for Euro-democracy'

There is an emerging European trade union movement that crosses national boundaries, according to Dr Ronald Erne from the UCD School of Business. In his new book, European Unions – Labor’s Quest for a Transnational Democracy, Erne applies the study of European trade union networks to challenge the view that there is no realistic prospect for remedying the current EU ‘democratic deficit’ - that is, says Erne, its ‘domination by corporate interests and lack of a cohesive European people’.

Based on a wide range of research methods, including statistical analysis, participant observation, and interviews with EU-level, national, and local trade unionists and works councillors, Erne assesses national and EU-level trade union politics in two core areas: wage bargaining in the European Monetary Union and job protection during transnational corporate mergers and restructuring.

By analysing the wage coordination policies of the European metal and construction workers’ unions and the unions’ responses in the ABB-Alstom Power and Alcan-Pechiney-Algroup merger cases, Erne shows that the labor’s activities are not confined to the national level. “This cross-national borrowing of tactics is itself proof of the increasing integration of European states and societies,” says Erne.

“Our analysis suggests that diverse national backgrounds do not preclude the Europeanisation of collective action, neither do the EU governance structures,” he says. “The choice made by the unions will not only determine the future role of labor, but will also affect the future development of democracy.”

European Unions – Labor’s Quest for a Transnational Democracy, by Dr Ronald Erne, is published by Cornell University Press. Dr Ronald Erne is a lecturer in International and Comparative Employment Relations at the UCD School of Business, University College Dublin.

The book was officially launched by Professor Andrew Martin, The Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University; Professor Lucio Baccaro, MIT Sloan School of Management; and Dr Bob Hancké, London School of Economics and Political Science, in the Dublin Office of the European Parliament on the 22nd February 2008.

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Labor’s quest for Euro-democracy