FES | Federación Española de Sociología

XII Congreso de la FES

Relaciones laborales en la empresa europea: el papel de la identidad colectiva en el caso de Allianz SE

GT 7 Sociología del Trabajo

Mona Aranea Guillén (Universidad de Oviedo)


Sesión de comunicaciones orales Franja 1B : EMPRESA, rse, rr.hh.
Tipo de sesión: Sesión de comunicaciones orales
Día: Thursday, 30 de June de 2016
Hora: 14:00 a 16:00
Lugar: S05

(English title: Employment Relations in European companies: the role of collective identity in the case of Allianz SE)

The paper discusses the potential of transnational employment relations for the improvement of workplace democracy in European companies. An actor-centred empirical analysis of transnational social dialogue in the leading insurance multinational Allianz SE reveals the importance of collective identities and strategies of management and employees in social dialogue. In recent years, European employee representatives in Allianz SE have reached important agreements with managements on training and work-related stress and inspired the teleworking agreement signed at European sector level in 2015.

Building up a labour voice in the political complex of the transnational corporation (González Begega and Köhler 2012) is a major challenge for trade unions under corporate globalisation (Gil Pinero et al. 2012). Throughout Europe, national systems of employment relations are experiencing a ‘common process of fragmentation’ (Arrowsmith and Pulignano 2013). It is in this problematic framework that transnational instruments for information and consultation at company-level can become potentially more important for employee representatives throughout Europe (Hauptmeier and Morgan 2014). European Works Councils are arguably the most far reaching transnational industrial relations body, with substantial information and consultation rights for the employees of transnational companies in Europe.

This paper brings forward the argument that two main factors determine whether European Works Councils can generate significant outcome for employees. Firstly, there has to exist a certain collective identity and a shared culture of transnationalism, both among key employee representatives and within HR management (Franca and Pahor 2014; Blazejewski 2012; Greer and Hauptmeier 2012). Secondly, employee representatives need to make use of various arenas of social dialogue available at European level (informal trade union networks, board-level representation, informal dialogue groups with management and formal sectoral committees) to establish a flexible multi-level participation structure (Gold 2003). The identities and strategies of actors are shaped but never determined by the framework of the company and the sector as well as national discourses on industrial democracy (Frege 2005; González Menéndez and Martínez Lucio 2014; Bechter, Brandl and Meardi 2012).

The empirical findings are based on a total of sixteen qualitative interviews with management and employees of Allianz SE in the three countries of Spain, Germany and Belgium, carried out between 2013 and 2015. The theoretical approach draws on social movement and employment relations theory to analyse identity building among employee representatives (Snow and Anderson 1987; Hyman 2001; Greer and Hauptmeier 2012; Martínez Lucio 2014)

Palabras clave: relaciones laborales; empresa transnacional; sindicatos; comités de empresa europeos; identidad colectiva