Ireland’s selective system of collective agreed minimum wages has come under significant pressure in recent years. A new fast-food employer body took a constitutional challenge against the system of Joint Labour Committees (JLCs) and this was strengthened by the discourse on the negative effects of minimum wages as Ireland’s economic crisis worsened. Taking a historical institutional approach, the article examines the critical juncture for the JLC system and the factors which led to the subsequent government decision to retain but reform the system. The article argues that the improved enforcement of minimum wages was a key factor in the employers’ push for abolition of the system but that the legacy of a collapsed social partnership system prevented the system’s abolition.
This paper is based on a study of the employment practices of one Italian-owned multinational corporation (MNC) and one US-owned MNC in the Italian quick-food service sector and examines such issues as work organization, unionization, employee representation and pay and conditions. The paper focuses on the concept of ‘dominance’ and the related convergence and divergence theses. The findings suggest that dominance can not only be interpreted as a mode of employment or production emanating from one country, but could also be associated with one dominant MNC in one sector. Consequently, it is argued that while the effect of host and home country influences may be significant factors in cross-border employment relations practices, more attention needs to be paid to organizational contingencies and the sectoral characteristics within which firms operate.
This article reports on the union recognition dispute that took place at the MacDonald's food-processing plant in Moscow. It examines this dispute in the context of McDonald's employment practices worldwide, the interventions made by international and local unions, and Russian government bodies. Despite these interventions it became impossible to either organise the workforce or establish a collective agreement. The case illustrates the difficulties facing both local unions and global union federations when confronted by intransigent multinational companies, especially in low-skilled sectors in transitional economies.
This article examines the labour relations practices of multinational corporations (MNCs) in the German and Spanish quick-food service sectors. The demand for greater profitability and lower costs is leading to a greater standardization of work methods across a widening range of food service operators, resulting in the gradual elimination of more expensive, skilled and experienced workers, and an increasingly non-union approach in employee relations practices. The outcome involves increasing standardization, union exclusion, low trust, low skills, and low pay. These sectoral characteristics appear to outweigh both country-of-origin and host-country effects. The findings therefore confirm continuing variation within national industrial relations systems and the importance of sectoral characteristics and organizational contingencies in understanding MNC cross-border behaviour.
This paper examines the problem of effectively regulating the labour relations practices of multinational corporations. It focuses on the activities of the McDonald's Corporation in a number of European countries. The findings suggest that public and private codes of conduct have a very limited effect and that determined and well-resourced corporations can not only undermine regional forms of regulation - such as that provided by the European Union - but also, and to a considerable extent, national-level regulation. This is particularly evident in the area of independent trade union representation. Although its aim of avoiding collective bargaining and union recognition wherever possible is only partially successful, McDonald's appears to have developed a number of highly effective strategies for limiting the presence of trade unions at restaurant level, particularly in avoiding or undermining statutory works councils and union representation rights.
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