Industrial Relations in Multilingual Environments at Work (IR-MultiLing)

Project status: 

IR-MultiLing will research areas of understanding/misunderstanding and intended/unintended outcomes arising from language policy choices and whether the costs and benefits of linguistic diversity map differently for employers and managers than for employees. Researching with case studies in France, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Spain and the UK, it will develop a typology of multilingual work environments contrasting multinational and national/local organisations with different management and non-management linguistic experiences. It will consider whether workers lacking full linguistic access at work are treated differently in terms of their access to trade union participation and support. Where they are members of what are still Europe's largest civil society organisations, trade unions, the issue of who is appointed or elected to represent their interests is an important one. Supported by National Advisory Groups of social partners and other experts IR-MultiLing will add to industrial relations expertise in this little-researched area, develop recommendations for decision-makers and produce a training DVD aimed at trade unionists.

The project's objectives are:

  • Establish the trends in the presence of multilingualism at work.
  • Research the relationship between positive and negative experiences of multilingualism and the industrial relations workplace context.
  • Develop an analytical framework to help explain strategic decisions by employers and trade unions on the issues of voluntarism or compulsion in relation to language training, the adoption of a universal language, and the toleration of multilingualism (dual/triple signage, bilingual line managers, etc).
  • Complete an effective comparison of the contexts and outcomes across Europe’s biggest economies and present recommendations to employers, trade unions and policy-makers.
  • Produce a training DVD/YouTube film for trade unionists showing different ways of overcoming the obstacles to participation by multilingual minorities.


The project's National Advisory Group:

  • Audi Independent Trade Union, Gyor
    Laszlo Hamori


Co-funded by the European Union

This project is funded with support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the CPS and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

Principal Researcher: 
Violetta Zentai
Zsuzsanna Arendas
Project Administrator: 
Lilla Jakobs
Project Administrator: 
Andreea-Raluca Leru
The Working Lives Research Institute, London Metropolitan University (LondonMet), UK
Associazione per gli Studi Internazionali e Comparati sul Diritto del lavoro e sulle Relazioni industriali (ADAPT), Italy
Institut fur Soziologie Philosophische Fakultat und Fachbereich, Theologie Friedrich-Alexander-Universitat Erlangen-Nurnberg (FAU), Germany
Centre d’Estudis Sociologics sobre la Vida Quotidiana i el Treball (QUIT), Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB), Spain
Center for Policy Studies (CPS)
Administrative Information
Funding body: 
European Commission DG Employment Social Affairs and Inclusion
Dec, 2014 - Nov, 2016
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