Posted: September 23rd, 2022

What problems do you see for MNEs that must bargain with unions in multiple countries?

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Global Industrial Relations at Ford Motor Company (US/Global) Ford Motor Company manufactures cars, trucks, and parts in 30 countries, with approximately 215,000 employees worldwide. It negotiates contracts with 56 different unions in every country where it manufactures except six (where there are no unions). In some countries, such as Italy, it must also negotiate with salaried staff and managers, who are also unionized. Because of this great variety of unions and countries, bargaining takes on as many different forms as there are countries. For example, in Australia, all major issues are first discussed by sub-committees at the local level, which, after agreement is reached, are then taken to the full national bargaining committee for Ford Motor. In contrast, in Germany, negotiation is done for all auto companies and auto unions at the same time through the national employers ’ association and the national metalworkers ’ union, which represents workers at all automotive companies. Even with this complicated bargaining reality, or maybe because of it, bargaining is handled almost exclusively at the local (country) level, with minimal coordination on a global level. As can be imagined, this not only causes coordination problems for the many unions involved, but also for Ford Motor Company itself. In spite of this, the office of the Director of International Labor Affairs Planning and Employee Relations (now consolidated in the office of Global Manufacturing and Labor Affairs) in Ford ’ s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, is literally only one person. As the Director of International Labor Affairs said, “ because I work in so many countries, one of my primary roles is to educate all the parts of the business in the US about what is going on around the world and how that affects the business.  ” Source : excerpted from a presentation by David Killinger, Director, International Labor Affairs, on Ford Motor Company ’ s global labor relations, delivered at the Faculty Development Seminar on International HRM at the University of Colorado, Denver, June 8, 2000.  Discussion Questions : watching/reading “National trade unions in a globalized world (Links to an external site.)”, please discuss the following: What problems do you see for MNEs that must bargain with unions in multiple countries? How would you advise those problems to be resolved? What do you predict for the future of unions and union relations in the global economy? Why?

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