chapter  5
34 Pages

EWC Infrastructure: Articulation in the Context of Communication, Training, and Collective Identity

Those that view EWCs as institutions through which worker representatives may be able to infl uence managerial decision making assume that networks of, or information exchanges among, EWC representatives will be established, which, in turn, will lead to the generation of a transnational collective identity among EWC representatives (Martinez Lucio and Weston 1995; Knudsen et al. 2007). In this context, networking assumes the articulation of EWCs with a wide range of actors, including EIFs, trade unions, works councils, and the constituents of the EWC representatives, together with the generation of intense communications among EWC representatives. From this perspective the generation of a European identity will enable EWC representatives to overcome the limitations of the Directive. The role of trade union organisations is integral to this position in that the provision of training and other forms of support to EWC representatives facilitate the generation of a transnational identity. In contrast, a frequently levelled criticism of EWC representatives is that they act in accordance with a persistent national perspective or identity that inhibits the development of a transnational collective identity (Keller 1995; Streeck 1998; Kotthoff 2007). From this viewpoint the absence of a transnational identity among EWC representatives is a result of, or is compounded by, the infrequency of plenary EWC meetings and the absence of intense communication between representatives that is necessary to generate trust and a collective identity (Timming 2008). Furthermore, the high rates of turnover among representatives experienced within some EWCs inhibits the generation of a transnational identity. This chapter examines the interrelated issues of communications and identity, and then assesses the impact of training on the development of a collective, transnational identity.