Key Words - T

Increasingly many Multinational Corporations (MNCs) are under pressure to implement labour standards and regulations nationally and internationally in a more coherent and cogent manner (see entry on Regulation). The growing awareness of labour rights and the increasing political and media interest in the employment activities of MNCs has meant that these organisations are increasingly being discussed and criticised for aspects of their international operations. Issues such as health and safety or child labour have led to a range of campaigns and high profile cases. There are international labour standards MNCs normally relate to but these are usually voluntary and come in the form of general codes of conduct from various international private and public agencies. In addition, the implementation of national legislation by a MNC within any one national context varies according to the ability or desire of those national governments to enforce their regulations on a range of issues.   In recent years we have seen some MNCs begin to develop with their workforce representations agreements on how their staff should be treated on a range of issues such as representation, equality, health and safety and others (see Dehnen and Pries, 2014 on such types of agreements). As a consequence of this we are seeing a specific set of high profile MNCs recreate an industrial relations type system of bargaining and negotiations at its headquarter levels and not just at the local national level. The idea is that local subsidiaries within MNCs use these agreements as frameworks for the development of their own industrial relations activity on the specific issues signed in them.  Some observers see these as further step towards a transnational system of regulation and industrial relations. However some are critical because the number of MNCs involved in such agreements remain relatively low. In addition, they are not always fully implemented and understood at all levels of the MNC (see Hammer 2005 for a review and evaluation). Yet these are a new development that begins to create a new set of transnational activities in the sphere of HRM which are related to labour rights and regulation. Along with European Works Councils, Global Works Councils and other representatives bodies in MNCs they form the basis of a new set of developments and influences.

Miguel Martínez Lucio

Dehnen, V. and Pries, L. (2014) ‘International Framework Agreements: A thread in the web of transnational labour regulation.’ European Journal of Industrial Relations

Hammer, N. (2005) ‘International framework agreements: global industrial relations between rights and bargaining. Transfer, 15: 1. 511-530.