1. Home stretch for new EWC
German Bundestag passes new EWC
On 7th April 2011 the German Bundestag passed
the new EWC legislation with the votes of the government coalition. The
opposition abstained, since their proposed amendments were not taken
into consideration. The bill was passed by the Federal Government on
15th December 2010 (see report in EWC
News 4/2010), the first hearing before the
German Bundestag took place on 17th March 2011. Following texts are
available only in German:
Social-democrats demands for
22nd March the SPD faction of the Bundestag proposed an amendment for
not only tougher penalties for violation of EWC rights but also an
entitlement to injunction and a guaranteed right of access to foreign
business premises. The amendment was rejected on 6th April 2011 by the
CDU/CSU and FDP majority in the committee on labour and social affairs.
The government coalition wanted only a "word-for-word transposition" of
the Directive. This freed the way for the second and third hearings one
day later in the plenary session of the German Bundestag. The committee
on labour and social affairs had already held a hearing with experts on
4th April 2011.
Provisions for extensive
contents of the draft legislation was also the main focus of a
conference organized by the training and consultancy network "
euro-workscouncil.net " on 24th January 2011 in Hamburg. Ralf-Peter
Hayen from the federal office of the German trade union confederation
DGB described the strengths and weaknesses of the bill from a trade
union standpoint. Of particular interest is the extensive right to
training. In the future and independently of their country of origin,
all EWC members of German companies will have an individual right to go
for training following a resolution of the EWC, such as provided for
German work council members according to German labor law. These
provisions of the German EWC legislation have not been matched in any
other EU country.
Current events on new legal
situation for work
6th June 2011 the new legislation will come into force. On this very
same day a EWC seminar will begin in Montabaur castle (Germany) with a
view to examining the juristic aspects of the final legal text. A
unique opportunity is also available at a works council conference on
30th June 2011 in Paris to discuss with a representative of the German
Ministry of Labor. Interpreters will be available on request for both
events, registrations are still open.
Exceptional transposition of
the EWC Directive in
17th November 2010 the national assembly in Vienna (photo) voted on the
revision of its code of labor law. A whole chapter is devoted to the
European works council. The new legislation, which is considered to be
one of the best in the whole EU, was published on 14th December 2010
following approval from the Upper House of Parliament on 2nd December
2010. 45 companies with their headquarters in Austria are concerned (of
which 27 already have a EWC established). The changes come into force
on 6th June 2011.
Austrian legislation surpasses the European Union Directive on
important points: such as a clearer definition of "transnational
issues", EWC members have a right to access employment sites in other
countries and all existing agreements conform without exception to the
new standards of information and consultation. Following texts are
available only in German:
New legal situation in Belgium
21st December 2010 the National Labour Council in Brussels adopted the
text for the transposition of the new EWC Directive. In Belgium the
parliament has no responsibility in the matter and labour law is
actually developed by the social partners themselves within the Labour
Council. The new rules come into force as an intersectoral, universally
applicable collective agreement on 6th June 2011.
Belgian legal situation is of great importance for the entire EWC
landscape since Belgium stands, in terms of figures, in fourth place
behind Germany, France and the UK. More than 100 European works
councils operate under Belgian law, of which only 40 are Belgian
companies. The remaining come from the UK, Switzerland, the USA and
other parts of the world.
EWC not chaired by employer
Belgian (as well as French) works councils are chaired by the employer,
this does not apply to European works councils. Under Belgian law the
EWC is a pure employee representative body whereas in France the EWC is
chaired by the employer.
A German-Belgian works council
conference will be held in Brussels on 29th-30th September 2011. The
possibility will be given here to become acquainted with the legal
situation in Belgium and the Belgian system of employee representation.
The meeting will be simultaneously interpreted in four languages
(German, French, Dutch, and English).
Other countries: current
was the first country of the European Union to bring the new EWC
legislation into force in November 2009 (see report in EWC
the United Kingdom, despite the change in government, the draft EWC
legislation, at that time prepared by the labor government, and brought
before the House of Commons in April 2010 will not be amended further
in EWC News 1/2010).
Italy intensive discussions between the three large trade union
confederations and the employers' associations have begun on the
contents of the Italian legislation.
Sweden a draft bill was submitted by the government in October 2010.
Polish government has started a first impact assessment.
France no parliamentary procedure for the transposition of the new EWC
Directive is planned. On 13th January 2011 the French government was
authorized by the national assembly to make the changes to existing EWC
legislation by decree.
Slovakia, the new EWC legislation was passed on 8th February 2011.
Spain the government voted a draft bill on 4th March 2011, which will
come up for discussion shortly before parliament.
15th March 2011 the parliament of the Czech Republic held a first
hearing on the transposition of the new EWC Directive.
29th March 2011 the new EWC legislation was passed by parliament in
Denmark (see full
text of the law in danish language).
Renegotiation of existing EWC agreements necessary?
6th June 2011 new EWC legislation or EWC collective agreements come
into force in all countries of the European Economic Area (this
includes the EU countries plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). In
many cases it remains unclear to employee representatives what steps
they must now take to benefit from the new standards.
Directive is only applicable to one in every two European works councils
first verification must be made as to whether the EWC agreement
currently valid in the company at all comes under the scope of new
Directive. The new legislation does not apply in
EWC agreement was concluded for the
first time before 22nd September 1996 (Article 13 agreements).
Furthermore it is completely irrelevant whether the agreement was
changed in the following years or renegotiated.
The EWC agreement was concluded for the
first time after 22nd September 1996, but modified during the two-year
transition period between 5th June 2009 and 5th June 2011.
European works councils were created under the
provisions of article 13 of the old Directive. In a considerable number
of companies changes were made to the EWC agreement during the
transition period between June 2009 and June 2011. As a result more
than half of the 978 European works councils in existence today
do not fall under the new legislation.
has the majority been excluded from
the new standards?
results in fact from concessions made to employer organizations during
the legislative procedure. The standards of the new Directive can only
be legally imposed in the case of fundamental changes to company
structure (e.g. mergers, spin-offs). In order to benefit from the
improved rules, it is absolutely necessary to renegotiate the
agreement. Somewhat different provisions may apply only to companies in
Austria (see above).
When does the new
legal situation apply
In the following cases, which
half of all European works councils, the new EWC legislation is
EWC agreement was concluded after 22nd
September 1996 and since then has undergone no change whatsoever or was
last amended before 5th June 2009.
A new or modified EWC agreement was signed
after 5th June 2011.
default (subsidiary) EWC is in place,
established without conclusion of a EWC agreement.
An issue could be where the special
negotiation body (SNB) signed a EWC agreement after the expiration of
the three year negotiation period. This has not been envisaged by the
legislator but exists in practice in isolated cases.
the European works council falls under the new
legislation, the renegotiation of the EWC agreement is not strictly
legally necessary. It is advisable however for practical reasons to
integrate the new standards into the text of the agreement and to
document the employer’s signed "commitment" to a better
operation of the EWC. In particular this applies to the size and number
of meetings of the steering committee.
support material from Brussels
7th January 2011 the European Commission
released an experts’ report on the individual chapters of the
new EWC Directive. It was edited by a team including both employer as
well as trade union friendly representatives and can therefore be of
great use as a reference for legally disputed cases. It can also be
helpful during renegotiation of EWC agreements. In May 2010 the
European Trade Union Institute in Brussels released its own legal
evaluation (see report
in EWC News 2/2010).
group regulates long-term employment
On the 16th December 2010 in Rueil Malmaison
near Paris a framework agreement was concluded covering the
anticipation of employment matters in DBApparel, representing the first
agreement of this kind in the textile industry.
The agreement provides for the
creation of an European works council task force for strategic
personnel planning, in particular for restructuring ("Anticipation Task
Force"). It consists of five employee representatives from different
countries and meets twice annually. The agreement contains operational
objectives for each individual country and defines a time window. A
similar agreement was also concluded in June 2009 for the electronics
company, Thales (see report
in EWC News 2/2009).
DBApparel established its EWC under French law
in 1996 and has been owned since 2005 by a US financial investor. The
group manufactures and distributes underwear with more than 5,000
employees in France, Italy, Germany, Spain, the UK and Eastern Europe.
Job security in times of crisis
On 24th February 2011, in Paris, the European
Metalworkers Federation (EMF) concluded an agreement with central
management of Alstom, the French metal industry group, on job security
in times of crisis. It covers 30 European countries and is valid for
three years. It was initiated following the announcement of downsizing
in the power plant manufacturing division.
In November 2010 an action day at German sites
had forced negotiations (see report
in EWC News 4/2010). Beforehand central management
had stopped implementing any measures so that the consultation
procedure with the European works council could be correctly concluded.
There were also strong protests in Switzerland, where Alstom is one of
the most important industrial employers (see report in
EWC News 3/2010). Besides power plants Alstom also
manufactures railway vehicles, such as the French high-speed train, TGV.
A comparable French agreement
for Alstom from 2006 served as a basis for the pan-European agreement.
Redundancies are to be avoided through a series of measures and
employee skills further developed. Examples of good practice, e.g.
Italian geographical mobility and reduced working hours in Germany, are
integrated at the European level. The agreement takes a similar
approach to that of the steel group, ArcelorMittal, from November 2009
in EWC News 4/2009).
in power plant construction,
clear-cuts in the railway vehicle production
All redundancies in Alstom Power have been
frozen until the next EWC meeting on 20th April 2011. Following the
nuclear disaster in Japan central management wants to examine possible
development of new markets for conventional power stations and thus
additional employment within Alstom. The moratorium does not however
apply to Switzerland. Things look completely different in the transport
division: at its’ meeting, held on 22nd March 2011 in Paris,
the EWC was informed about the slashing of 1,380 jobs in Germany, Spain
and Italy of which half come from the German Salzgitter site.
Additionally the bodywork is to be relocated to Poland, which would
lead to further cuts. The following texts are available only in German:
agreement on personnel
The French energy group, Areva, signed an
agreement on 1st April 2011 with the European Metalworkers’
Federation (EMF) on personnel planning. In the future each employee in
France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom is
entitled to 30 hours of further education per year. In addition the
collective agreement provides for professional development and internal
anti-discrimination agreement signed in November 2006, the energy group
undertook a project together with the EWC to examine its personnel
policy in all European locations (see report in
EWC News 1/2009). With this new agreement Areva follows the
example of the French electronics company, Thales (see report in EWC
secretary of the Areva European Work Council, Maureen Kearney, will
give a report on the contents of the agreement at the conference to be
held on 29th June 2011 in Paris.
German labour court strengthens
British EWC members
European works council of Avaya obtained an exceptional settlement on
13th January 2011 from the labour courts in Frankfurt (Germany). The
legal dispute was triggered by a restriction to British EWC
members’ rights to time-off. The US company, offering
telecommunication services and data networks, concluded a EWC agreement
after a merger in 2007 under German law.
the difficulties in the United Kingdom could not be resolved otherwise,
the Italian EWC chairman turned to the labour courts in Frankfurt/Main.
An oral negotiation took place on 12th November 2010. Following the
suggestions of the court, central management and the EWC reached an
agreement that all EWC members are to have time-off "as is necessary"
and not with a fixed time allowance. This also has an impact on the
definition of performance figures for employees who are elected to the
EWC. There can no longer be any appeal against this ruling which now
applies to all European countries.
new time-off regulations for employee representatives have been in
force since January 2010 in the United Kingdom (see report in
EWC News 3/2009), in practice there are problems over and over again.
The outcome of this labour dispute can therefore be taken as a role
model for many European works councils.
Which language for the work
3rd March 2011, a Berlin labor court ruled that German works council
members have the right to training delivered in their native language.
The case actually concerned two US citizens who did not have sufficient
knowledge of the German language. In order to exercise their mandate,
they requested to participate in an English-language introductory
seminar. According to the court the employer must bear the higher cost
of the training.
1993 the regional labor Court in Hessen ruled that the works council
has a right to German language documentation. Any English-language
documents must be previously translated by the employer. In 1997 the
local labor court in Frankfurt am Main also ruled that a works council
has a right to translation and interpretation. Following texts are
available only in German:
Right to strike strengthened in
the United Kingdom
On 4th March 2011 an appeal
court ruled in second instance on a local transport labor dispute in
London. The RMT trade union was able to override the restraining order
ruled in the first instance of January 2011 and hereby win their
struggle for the right to strike. The legal dispute arose from doubts
as to whether or not legal rules for the preparation and organization
of strike ballots had been correctly carried out. These are subject to
strict regulations put in place in the years 1979 to 1997 by the
conservative governments under Thatcher and Major, and which are used
by employers over and over again, as a means for prohibiting labor
disputes on formal grounds.
New EWC in food industry
EWC agreement for Vaasan was signed on 7th September 2010 in Vantaa
near Helsinki under Finnish law. The company is one of the largest
manufacturers of bakery products in Finland and in the Baltic States.
are chaired by the employer with five Finish representatives, two
representatives for each of the three Baltic States and one each for
Sweden and Norway. Three plenary sessions are held every two years with
at least three meetings of the steering committee which is composed of
five employee representatives. The rules of the EWC agreement are still
based on the standards of the old European Union Directive.
Worlds’ second largest ophthalmic lens
manufacturer establishes EWC
8th October 2010 in Aalen a EWC agreement was signed at the
headquarters of Vision Care (photo), the ophthalmic division of Carl
Zeiss under German law. A EWC has already existed within the group
since 1996 for the glass manufacturer Schott in Mainz but not for the
Holding. Vision Care had previously been a joint venture with a Swedish
financial investor and was integrated only a few days beforehand into
the Zeiss group.
European works council consists of 14 members and represents 3,300
European employees. Three seats each are attributed to Germany and
France, two each to Italy and Hungary and one further seat each to the
UK, Ireland and Portugal. Countries with fewer than 50 employees are
represented by one common representative. The steering committee is
made up of four members. Noteworthy advantages of the agreement: the
EWC can establish working groups, has access rights to all branch sites
and benefits from precisely defined consultation rights in the case of
French supply and
transportation group adapts
13th October 2010 Veolia Environnement updated its EWC agreement dating
back from 2005. The European works council was expanded from 29 to 40
members. Since the company consists of several divisions (water,
waste-disposal, energy and transport), a more precise definition of the
prerogatives of the EWC in each of the individual sectors was made. The
constitutional meeting of the new body was held on 14th December 2010
consultation rights go beyond those provided for in the new EWC
Directive. The tasks of the national committees for social dialogue
have also been reinforced and they are now able to meet twice annually.
These were created in countries where no central or group works council
existed (e.g. Spain). This system was also of great practical
importance in Germany since there is no national works council
structure covering the individual divisions.
3rd March 2011 the merger between Veolia’s transport division
and Transdev, which was already announced in December 2009 (see report in
EWC News 4/2009). was finalized. There is however, up to now, still
no dispositions for a possible merger of the two European works
EWC agreements are available for download on a special
Highlights from the EWC agenda
intervenes in Belgian labor dispute
On 12th November 2010 the Belgian management of
Brinks, the US security service group, informed the local work council
of the forthcoming liquidation of the Belgian company. This was caused
by the trade unions refusal to agree on wage cuts and by the subsequent
strike action in protest against the restructuring plan.
This situation provoked an
extraordinary meeting of the EWC on 16th and 17th December 2010 in
Paris. Although only one country was involved, central management
recognized the prerogatives of the EWC and, within the consultation
procedure, agreed to reveal detailed financial data from Belgium and to
pay for a business analysis. In the case of Brink’s
therefore, the standards of the new EWC Directive are already in
practice. Brink's has a default EWC in place since November 2009 under
French law (see report
in EWC News 4/2009).
EWC extraordinary meeting enforced by
threat of legal action
The French media
plans to sell their international magazine division with 5,000 persons
employed in 45 countries. When this was reported in the press, the
French group’s work council made two unsuccessful demands for
the convening of an extraordinary EWC meeting, according to a press
statement from 17th December 2010.
Once it became
known, on 31st December 2010,
that discussions on the sale would be carried out exclusively with the
US media group Hearst, the EWC secretary threatened with legal action
in a letter to central management on 18th January 2011. At the same
time the competent French works council also threatened not to complete
the consultation procedure, as long as the EWC was not sufficiently
involved. French employers are only allowed to implement their plans
once a consultation procedure has been correctly concluded, otherwise
they risk to be stopped legally. As a result an extraordinary EWC
meeting was convened for 9th March 2011. Lagardère has a EWC
in place since 1996 under French law.
accepts monitoring committee
On 16th and 17th February 2011 the newly
elected EWC of the German retail group, Metro met in
Düsseldorf. Although Germany employs more than one third of
the world-wide workforce of 250,000, the EWC chair went to France. A
representative from Germany was elected deputy chairwoman. Five further
members make up the steering committee: one seat each to Germany,
Belgium, Spain, Italy and Poland. Central topic of the plenary session
was the planned relocation of the accounting to China, India and
Eastern Europe. A EWC extraordinary meeting took place on 10th March
2011 to examine these plans in more detail. The body was established in
While many other
companies have already
concluded international framework agreements with trade unions, in 2005
Metro limited itself to unilateral management principles. Now it has
been announced that central management is ready to create a
parity-based monitoring commission with the EWC.
Focus on mergers and takeovers
Deutsche Bahn acquires British transport group
In August 2010 the state-owned German Rail
(Deutsche Bahn) bought the private British transport group Arriva,
which operates bus and railway services in twelve EU countries. The
acquisition was approved by the European Commission under the condition
that the German subsidiary, with around 3,100 employees, would be sold.
As a result, since December 2010, the railway company PEG, the
operating company of Metronom and other parts of the German Arriva
group belong to the Italian state railway FS and to a financial
investor in Luxembourg.
a EWC in 1999 under British
law. Deutsche Bahn was the first German company to have a default EWC
established in 2005 without negotiation of a EWC agreement. One year
later central management signed an agreement on the standing rules and
responsibilities of the EWC. The legal status of the European works
council is therefore comparable to that of the US company, Brink's (see report in
EWC News 4/2009).
its’ last meeting,
held from 19th to 21st October 2010 in Berlin, the EWC of Deutsche Bahn
decided to negotiate with central management on a new distribution of
mandates. Up to now both European works councils continue to work
separately in parallel to each other. From now on, a few members of the
steering committees participate in each other EWC meetings
takeover - trade union for,
works council against
negotiates on job security during a takeover: the works council or the
trade union? The forthcoming acquisition of the largest German
construction group, Hochtief, by the Spanish infrastructure group, ACS,
brought this fundamental conflict of German industrial relations into
the spotlight of the public at the turn of the year 2010/2011.
While the works council was fighting with
Hochtief’s management against the takeover, the IG BAU trade
union was holding “secret negotiations" (quote from the works
council). The IG BAU union justified this as follows: The works council
is the dialogue partner of the employer. However trade unions are
responsible for discussions with investors.
The result is an agreement signed on 21st
December 2010 with the potential new owner, and according to which,
company headquarters will remain in Essen (Germany) and no employees
will be made redundant until the end of 2013. The IG BAU trade union is
recognized as the exclusive wage bargaining party and HR directors are
to be appointed only after agreement of the trade union. ACS explicitly
excludes the transformation into a European company (SE). In January
2011 labour lawyers discovered that the agreement is not legally
binding. Nevertheless the conflict between trade union and works
council could be settled on 21st January 2011. The following texts are
available only in German:
the meantime ACS has
acquired more than 43 per cent of Hochtief. In the
shareholder’s meeting on 12th May 2011 a divided vote for the
seats on the supervisory board is to be expected. Hochtief’s
EWC, established in 1996, would be dissolved after a merger. Since ACS
does not yet have a transnational employee representation body, a EWC
would have to be set up there. The situation is similar to that of the
cement company Buzzi Unicem at the time (see report in
EWC News 2/2008).
Telecom sells US subsidiary
The 40,000 employees at T-Mobile in the USA can
sigh in relief. Soon they will be part of the AT&T group, which
is known for its fair treatment of employee rights. Deutsche Telekom
announced the sale on 20th March 2011 in Bonn, which is however
contested on anti-trust grounds. Although the closure of call centers
and branch offices is to be expected, there were positive reactions
from the trade unions involved.
Telefónica accepted world-wide
social minimum standards in an international framework agreement signed
with the trade unions (see report in
EWC News 4/2007) and France Télécom
established a World works council in June 2010 (see report in
EWC News 2/2010), central management of Deutsche Telekom have
refused to take on any social responsibility outside Europe. As
recently as September 2010, central management came under criticism
from a human rights organization for the violation of international
labour standards in the USA (see report in EWC
News 3/2010). As
a consequence the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
started a campaign in T-Mobile in the USA on 4th March 2011 with its
own web site in four languages.
Health and Care groups in EWC
On 5th January 2011 the
European trade union federation, EPSU, published a study carried out by
the University of Greenwich in the health and care sectors.
Privatizations and the opening up of the market have increasingly led
to the expansion of multinational companies into elderly and child care
services, clinics, rehabilitation centers and other health services.
study identifies ten EWC-eligible companies, of which only two have
created a European works council. Scandinavia is a regional focal point
of the industry. Some of the companies mentioned are owned by financial
investors. In June 2006, the Swedish clinics group, Capio, created the
first EWC in the private health sector.
on employee representation
20th January 2011, the European Foundation for the Improvement of
Living and Working Conditions in Dublin released the results of a
survey on information and consultation procedures within companies. It
is based on detailed reports from 26 European countries. A EU Directive
from 2002 made it mandatory to inform and consult the workforce. This
led to the very first legislation on the establishment of employee
representation bodies in the United Kingdom and in Ireland, as well as
in central and Eastern Europe.
European Union report on the development of the labour relations
Once every two years since the
year 2000, the European Commission publishes a report which examines
the development of social dialogue, trade unions, bargaining policy and
labor legislation in the European Union. The 2010 edition was released
on 3rd March 2011 in Brussels. An emphasis was placed on shop-floor
agreements resulting from the financial market crisis and those dealing
with restructuring. A further subject in the report: in 2008 only 31%
of all European employees were members of a trade union while still two
thirds of the jobs are covered by collective agreements.
9. The view
Swedish electrical group
strengthens social dialogue
13th December 2010, Swedish trade unions signed
an international framework agreement with central management of
Electrolux in Stockholm, guaranteeing fundamental labor standards for
50,000 employees world-wide.
noteworthy interest is an annexed protocol,
which excludes any encouragement of "yellow" trade unions by the
employer as well as the activities of “trade union
busters”. In this respect, the domestic appliance
manufacturer, to which AEG also belongs, demonstrates a greater social
responsibility than for example Deutsche Telekom or Deutsche Post (see report in EWC
News 3/2010). Union busters are predominantly used in the
Anglo-Saxon cultural circles to prevent the establishment of employee
representation (see report
in EWC News 3/2010).
EWC chairman supports
representation in South Africa
24th to 26th January 2011 the chairman of the Umicore EWC visited the
Port Elizabeth site together with union representatives. Concrete
proposals for the improvement of social dialogue between plant
management and employee representatives were discussed. The findings of
the visit are to be discussed in April 2011 with central management in
Brussels. The Belgian materials technology group had agreed in
September 2007 in an international framework agreement to the
establishment of such a monitoring committee (see report in EWC
General Motors on the
road to World works
Following the failure of the
planned sale of Opel
to the automobile supplier Magna (see report in EWC
News 3/2009) and the closure of the Antwerp plant at the end
of 2010 (see report
in EWC News 3/2010), the European works council members are
working even closer together with their colleagues outside Europe.
revival of transatlantic co-operation was the focal point of a
conference organized in Rüsselsheim (Germany) on 22nd and 23rd
February 2011 (photo). Apart from the conclusion of an international
framework agreement on social minimum standards a demand was made to
transform the European works council into a World works council.
Framework agreement in
February 2011, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) terminated
the framework agreement it had concluded with the German newspaper
group WAZ in July 2007 (see report in
EWC News 2/2007). According to the EFJ, the only agreement of
its kind in the media sector, did not meet with expectations
particularly in Eastern Europe. Employee representatives for the WAZ
group in Romania, Bulgaria and Macedonia are now to be accompanied
directly from the EFJ in a pilot project, without waiting for the
support of company headquarters in Essen.
|Trade unions and collective labour law in Poland
A 630 page dissertation was
published in January 2011 which provides an in-depth analysis of labour
relations in the largest and most economically important Eastern
European country acceding to the EU. After an overview of the
historical development of the Polish trade union movement two
individual chapters deal with the radical change process of the 1980s
and the emergence of today's structures starting from 1990. Poland has
been slower than the other European Union acceding countries to put in
place a legal basis for works councils. The works council legislation
in force today was only first introduced in July 2009 and the practical
experience is still often lacking (see report in EWC
News 3/2009). The book is available only in German.
Collective bargaining in Germany and
This publication on
released in January 2011 has not been written from an employee
standpoint. Nevertheless the author provides an up-to-date legal
insight into the changes in collective bargaining rights for the two
economically leading countries of the European market – hard
facts which may also offer an important source of information for the
union friendly public. Whereas in France the legislator has recently
strengthened collective bargaining unity as a result of the painful
break-up of the trade-union bargaining landscape, in Germany, the
Federal Constitutional Court cancelled bargaining unity in June 2010
in EWC News 2/2010). Both
countries therefore continue to develop their collective bargaining
system in exactly opposite directions. The book is available only in
Hungarian trade unions after change of
In January 2011,
the Friedrich Ebert Foundation
published an updated review of the Hungarian trade union movement. A
national right-wing, and trade union-hostile coalition has been
governing in Budapest since May 2010. Altogether the six union
confederations represent only a membership rate of 12%. Collective
agreements apply only to approximately 40% of the Hungarian workforce.
The influence of trade unions in companies is small. Already in 1992,
Hungary was the first country in central and Eastern Europe to have
introduced works councils, which, to a large extent, had to manage on
their own due to weak union presence. The Friedrich Ebert Foundation
review now formulates some propositions for the reorientation of
Hungarian trade unions. The following texts are available only in
Card game – source of outrage
While in Germany
board games like "Works
council snakes and ladders" support employee participation, the French card game
"transition plan" caused an uproar. Each of the 52 cards represents an
employee. The winner is the person who is first to dismiss all of his
employees, so that the company can be closed and relocated outside
France to a totalitarian low wage country. It is really so simple to
become a successful manager and to finish the game as the winner.
trade unionists are already proposing that the game should be included
in the curriculum of business schools: "to denounce that capitalism has
gone mad". The card game is manufactured by an ecological and
sustainable oriented game publisher from Brittany.
12. Training and Consultancy
Examples of our work
European Work Councils
Conference in Hamburg for
the third time running
50 employee representatives from 29 different companies met together
with trade union officers, lawyers and scientists from five countries
in the annual EWC conference held on 24th and 25th January 2011 in
Hamburg. For the first time the meeting was simultaneously interpreted
in English and French. More than a third of the participants came from the
metal and electrical industry, companies in the chemical and
pharmaceutical sector and logistics were also strongly represented. In
addition participants came from insurance, food manufacturing,
telecommunications, retail and market research.
the first day focus was put on the German transposition of the EWC
Directive (see above). Afterwards experts from the bearing
manufacturer, Schaeffler (see report in EWC
News 1/2008) and the electronics group, Nokia Siemens
Networks (see report
in EWC News 3/2010) reported on experiences in their European works
second day was then totally devoted to labour relations in the United
Kingdom with practical examples from the insurance company Alliance and
the telecommunications company BT. A report on the subject was given by
the German AiBplus technical magazine in its 2/2011 edition. Following
texts are available only in German:
Automobile supplier on the road to EWC
The European works council of
the US group, Visteon, would like to integrate the standards of the new
Directive into their EWC agreement. For this purpose, Dr. Werner
Altmeyer from the training and consultancy network
"euro-workscouncil.net" was nominated as expert by the steering
committee in a meeting on 15th March 2011 at the European headquarters
in Kerpen near Cologne (photo). A new agreement is to be drafted before
September 2011and then negotiated with central management. Visteon, one
of world’s largest automobile suppliers, was spun off from
the Ford group in the year 2000 and has its own EWC in place since 2001
under German law.
EWC training in energy group
The European works council of RWE met in
Dortmund from 16th to 18th March 2011. Part of the plenary session was
a seminar delivered by the training and consultancy network
"euro-workscouncil.net" and covering industrial relations in the
countries where the energy group from Essen has branches. In former
times RWE had a representation structure with divisional European works
councils which have now been bundled into one EWC for the entire group
in EWC News 1/2008).
group: handling restructuring
European works council of the Swiss Roche group met from 29th to 31st
March 2011 in Brussels. The 27 representatives from 14 countries
analyzed how they could optimize their influence over transnational
restructuring together with Dr. Werner Altmeyer from the training and
consultancy network "euro-workscouncil.net" who was appointed as expert
to the EWC in March 2009 (see report in
EWC News 1/2009).
brochure for 2011
training and consultancy network "euro-workscouncil.net" has been
organizing and delivering conferences and training seminars for the
members of European works councils, SE works councils and special
negotiation bodies since January 2009. So far 221 employee
representatives from 106 companies have taken part (representing about
11% of all companies in Europe with an established EWC). The majority
of participants came from Germany and France, but a further nine
countries were represented. For the year 2011 a training brochure is
now available in German, giving an overview of the planned events:
Seminar on EWC legislation and
6th June 2011 the new EWC
legislation will come into force. We would therefore like to offer a
prompt opportunity for a detailed examination of the legal text in its
final version. To this end a EWC legislation seminar will take place on
6th and 7th June 2011 in Montabaur castle.
seminar on financial data will follow, highlighting the new legal
situation under the aspect of restructuring. How should the European
works council prepare an opinion and so conclude the consultation
procedure? This seminar will be held from 7th to 9th June 2011 in
Montabaur castle and is also appropriate for SE works councils. Both
events may be booked together or separately. English and French
interpretation will be available on request.
For newly elected
European works council
members or for work council members seeking information on the
establishment of a EWC, we are again offering an introductory seminar.
It will take place from 7th to 9th June 2011 in Montabaur castle.
language courses for works council
19. – 25.06.2011 in
Eastbourne (on the English channel coast)
13. – 18.11.2011 in Esher Place (near London)
French-German Conference in Paris
A second conference for works council members
from Germany and France is to be held in Paris from 29th June to 1st
July 2011. The new French EWC legislation will be presented along with
reports from experienced French and German EWC members on their work.
Why a conference in Paris?
The philosophy behind information and
consultation in the EU Directive on European works councils as well as
employee participation in the European Company (SE) is closely tailored
around French industrial relations. An exact knowledge of the
subtleties of the French model is indispensable for growing a European
works council from a song and dance act into a fully fledged
representative body. Participation to the conference is possible
according to the provisions of the new EWC legislation on training.
Simultaneous interpretation will be provided in German, English and
French. Following texts are available only in German:
Belgian EWC conference in
28th and 29th
British EWC conference in London
27th and 28th October 2011
Renegotiation of EWC agreements
Following the coming into force of the new EWC
legislation it is advisable in many companies to renegotiate the EWC
agreement. To this end we are offering a workshop to enable an exchange
of experience and to make a critical analysis of
participant’s EWC agreements. The workshop will be held from
10th to 12th October 2011 in Eisenach on the Wartburg castle (photo).
English interpreters will be available on request.
Seminars of the Institute for
Further Education of
Works Councils (ifb)
Since 1998 the ifb has been
offering EWC seminars which were developed in conjunction with the
training and consultancy network "euro-workscouncil.net".
Basic seminar: The European
Works Council from A to
– 11.11.2011 in Munich
Advanced seminar and idea exchange
– 25.11.2011 in Stuttgart
Workshop for SE works
2011 the training and consultancy network "euro-workscouncil.net" will
be organising another SE workshop. Since the number of SE works
councils is still relatively small, the next date will be coordinated
with any interested participants by telephone. Anybody interested
should please fill in and return the following questionnaire.
Please find a survey of
possible subjects of in-house events here:
News is published by:
and consultancy network "euro-betriebsrat.de" GbR
collaborating on this
Werner Altmeyer, Sandro Maier, Bernhard Stelzl
of the German
version: 14,938 readers
the English version: 2,057 readers
the French version: 2,196 readers
We are always pleased to
receive comments and suggestions in relation to this newsletter as well
as reports on your EWC activities. Please write us at: firstname.lastname@example.org