As with employers` organisations, as we shall see below, trade union representation is generally organised according to criteria which go beyond the automotive sector, although this obviously depends on the specificities of each national system of labour relations. If the main point of reference for trade union structures is the sector, it is usually the metallurgical industry – or sometimes the manufacturing industry – that covers the automotive activity. A broad definition of the automotive industry, which encompasses all subcontractors, may encompass a large number of sectoral unions, for example. B in electronics (if separated from metallurgy) or in the plastics and rubber industry. Specific trade unions of workers or employees may also be present, as well as professional and general trade unions, depending on the divisions in the national trade union representation bodies. Ideological orientations could be as important as in Italy and France. For all these reasons, trade union pluralism in the automotive sector is generally the rule throughout Europe. An interesting development in collective bargaining in the automotive sector took place in Italy in 1998 and involved the conclusion of a “territorial” collective agreement comprising 22 companies belonging to the network of subcontractors located around the Fiat plant in Melfi. This was the first signing of a multi-employer agreement for an integrated system of subcontractors. Companies and trade unions have agreed on the establishment of a number of joint inter-company bodies and have put in place common provisions on certain wage premiums and certain aspects of working time management (IT9806171N).
The activities of the EWCs are not the only area in which a kind of working relationship is developing at European level. However, these developments concern only the coordination efforts of the trade unions and are therefore essentially a “precondition” or a first component of possible bilateral relations with management. The main level of cooperation and coordination between trade unions active in the automotive sector is certainly that of the entire European metal industry. With the direct support and participation of the EDCs, which are very active in this field (as shown in the above-mentioned cases Vilvoorde and GM), a series of general sectoral guidelines for the coordination of trading activities in the metallurgy sector have been published (DE9812283E). A concrete example of such coordination can be found in Denmark, where the Danish Metalworkers` Association (Dansk Metal, Metal) has started discussions with trade unions in the sector in Germany and Sweden on the coordination of demands during negotiations and the implementation of procedures in order to prevent strikes in one country from being affected by the relocation of production to neighbouring countries. . . .