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Employee Participation in the European Company: Implications for the Greek Industrial Relations System

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It is widely accepted that institutions establishing employee participation are not considered as an integral and basic part of the Greek industrial relations system. For this reason, the experience of employee involvement at the workplace is limited in Greece, and only a few cases of what could be regarded as good practice are recorded. The aim of this chapter is to examine current trends of participatory practices in Greece and to evaluate the dynamics that lie behind the broader issue of worker involvement in the forthcoming period characterised by the implementation of Directive 2001/86/EC on the European company. The analysis focuses first on the historical development of the issue in Greece. More specifically, it discusses the changes occurring during the 1980s and reviews the relevant literature. The chapter then presents the results of a recent survey examining the possible impact of Directive 2001/86/EC on Greek companies. The analysis takes into consideration relevant experience at European level and draws the appropriate conclusions.For many decades, the issue of employee participation has represented a serious concern for industrial relations actors in Greece. Nevertheless, such participation is not as widespread as in other European countries for a number of reasons. Even the eminent Blanchard Report, a report on working conditions in Greece drawn up in spring 1978 by a team of experts from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), highlights in paragraph 136:

Bearing these points in mind, it is obvious that the demand for worker participation in the decision-making process at the enterprise level in Greece had not been promoted over the first 80 years of the twentieth century. In an effort to ascertain the reasons that contributed to the purely cosmetic presence of employee participative institutions in Greek enterprises up to the 1980s, the following points may be made (Kravaritou-Manitakis, 1986: 185; Koutroukis, 1989: 32).

These points are clearly underlined in a relative study of workers’ participation over the period 1910–1981: ‘all the efforts to promote employee participation, whether in the institutional field or in practice, have clashed with the strong opposition from the state and employers’ (Koutroukis, 1989: 33). This dual power (state and management) has provoked huge obstacles against each attempt to establish participative institutions in Greek workplaces. The union movement has found itself merely tolerated, and employers have managed to win the battle in their struggle with employees within a framework of a state characterised by paternalism towards industrial relations and more specifically employee participation.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2009

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