1. The restructuring wave
what is the legislator doing?
Parliament demands revision of the EWC Directive
European Parliament in Strasbourg demanded in a resolution on 10th May
2007 to update the legal provisions for information and consultation
and particularly the EWC Directive. The EU Commission shall present a
concrete time schedule for this. Already on 25th April 2007 a
discussion took place whereby several Members of Parliament used
current examples (Airbus, Alcatel-Lucent, Delphi Systems, Volkswagen)
to highlight the need for action of the legislator. The Parliament thus
followed the European Economic and Social Committee, which after a
crucial vote in September 2006 had asked for urgent action. Since
spring 2004 the revision procedure has run without result.
before the debate in the European Parliament and for the day exactly
three years after the beginning of the revision procedure the European
Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) convened about 200 European
works council members for a meeting in Brussels on April 20th,
2007. In the presence of Commissioner Špidla and the
European employers' confederation BusinessEurope they stressed the
demand for a revision of the EWC Directive. At this meeting a documentation
on methods of action for European works councils in the
course of restructuring was presented, covering General Motors, InBev,
RWE Energy and Dim Branded Apparel.
ETUC congress, which met in Seville (Spain) from 21st to 24th May 2007
also asked for strengthening the European works councils. It named the
key activities in a manifesto:
stimulate negotiations on restructuring and provide a stronger
framework of information, consultation and involvement, including
involving independent experts on restructuring."
new person in
charge of EWC issues at the ETUC
the congress the head of the ETUC was regularly newly-elected. Since
then the Deputy General Secretary Reiner Hoffmann
(photo) from Germany is responsible for the topic workers'
participation, which also includes the European works councils. He was
interviewed about his priorities and current developments by our
newsletter editor Bernhard Stelzl.
More staff news from Brussels
The education department of the
European trade union institute (ETUI-REHS) in Brussels has got
personnel reinforcements on 1st July 2007. A long-standing member and
chairman of the European works council of the Dutch Fortis bank, Bruno
Demaître, will organize EWC seminars.
Survey of IG Metall
trade union: The practice is further than the legislator
Concrete practice is of
decisive importance against the background of a blocked legislation
process. Besides the Europe-wide survey of Prof. Waddington from the
year 2005 (see interview)
IG Metall has also carried out two surveys in Germany. Results of the
first survey were already presented in November 2005 at an EWC
conference in Hanover. The key finding was that out of 85 interviewed
councils 70 were confronted with cross border restructering.
the second survey of IG Metall in 2006, 28 European works councils were
examined more exactly, which conducted a special meeting on the
occasion of restructering – either with the complete council
or with the select committee. In the opinion of Dr Aline Hoffmann,
leader of the EWC team in the head office of IG Metall, the lived
practice overtakes the regulations laid down in EWC agreements. As she
explained to EWC News, “the initiative of the EWC members is
rather decisive”. In most of the cases a special meeting was
possible at short notice and opened new chances to get locally active.
However some weak points became apparent. In some cases there were no
internal preliminary meetings of the workers' side, not all locations
concerned were included, or there were no interpreters available.
European works councils don't
wait for the legislator
To improve their work
opportunities, European works councils negotiate often a new EWC
agreement. Some of them were listed in the magazine
“Arbeitsrecht im Betrieb” in January 2007.
2. Participation rights
after the merger
EWC agreement with extended rights
buying up of the British BOC Group by the conglomerate Linde did not
only lead to an extensive reorganisation of products and locations but
also in the composition of the employee committees. While the head
office of the gasses and engineering company was transferred from
Wiesbaden to Munich and the fork truck division was sold, numerous
members left the European works council.
new German and European works council chairman Gernot Hahl
(photo) did his best to enlarge the Linde EWC immediately with BOC
representatives and to use the merger for a renegotiation of the EWC
agreement. The text signed on 27th June 2007 provides for three annual
meetings. Third-party funded projects, which serve the strengthening of
the international cooperation of the workers' representatives are
sponsored by the company in future. Our newsletter editor Kathleen
Kollewe talked about the course of the negotiations and further
advantages of the new agreement with the EWC chairman.
28 members of the new EWC will come together for the first meeting in
November 2007. The UK gets seven seats, Germany six, the Netherlands
and France two each and all other countries one seat each (Finland,
Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Austria, Poland, Czechia,
Hungary and Romania). The EWC is chaired by a five-headed select
support for the EWC
Bister has worked as a scientific expert for the German
group works council and for the European works council since 1st April
2007. Before he was a union officer at the German Mining, Chemical and
Energy Industrial Union (IG BCE) and he has long-standing experiences
in the cross border cooperation of workers' representatives. Bister is
co-editor of a dictionary for the international trade union work (see report in
EWC News 1/2007).
the world's biggest steel merger: New EWC agreement complete
signing of the EWC agreement for ArcelorMittal took place on 9th July
2007 in Luxembourg in the presence of Lakshmi Mittal (photo). The
Indian multi-millionaire will take on the chairmanship of the EWC
according to French habits although particularly IG Metall trade union
would have preferred the German model with a workers' representative as
negotiations on the merger of the two European works councils of
Arcelor and Mittal Steel had been concluded in Spain on 18th April 2007
in EWC News 1/2007). 54 delegates belong to the new EWC out
of the following countries: France and Poland (nine mandates each),
Belgium and Romania (eight each), Germany, Spain and Czechia (five
each), Luxembourg (three) as well as Italy (two mandates). The workers'
representatives choose a three-headed secretariate and a select
committee of 25 members.
The new agreement adopts the
essential features of the previous Arcelor agreement and meets the
demands of the trade unions. Besides an employee participation in the
administrative board the agreement provides participation rights for
the EWC like in the SE Directive which goes beyond the regulations of
the EWC Directive at some points. ArcelorMittal thinks about a
transformation to a European company (SE).
Merger leads to the loss of
supervisory board seats
4th May 2007 the European Commission had allowed the take-over of the
British tour operator MyTravel by the German tourism group Thomas Cook.
The new company will have its seat in London and will be based on
British legislation. The functions of the executive board and the
supervisory board are then united in a management board which does not
know any workers' directors.
workers' directors in the previous German supervisory board of Thomas
Cook lose their mandates with that. All the more important will be the
role of the European works council in future. Negotiations of its
working conditions started at the beginning of August 2007. At Thomas
Cook an EWC was already installed in 2003, at My Travel in 2006.
Recently the recognition was renewed for the more than 1,000 employees
at Thomas Cook in the United Kingdom and an Employee Consultation Forum
(ECF) was founded, which is comparable with a company-wide national
without works council?
In the course of the merger between the two network
divisions of Siemens and Nokia 9,000 jobs shall be cut. The company Nokia
Siemens Networks (NSN) set up on 1st April 2007 does not have
any EWC yet which could be consulted over the restructuring plan (see report in EWC News 1/2007).
protests of the European Metalworkers’ Federation (EMF)
central management explained for the first time its workers'
representatives the plans on 25th´May 2007 in Brussels.
Though it is not clear yet to which degree which countries and
locations will be affected by the reduction, but first signs point to
figures of 1,700 in Finland and 2,900 in Germany primarily in the
research and development area. A further downsizing is feared in
Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands.
12th June 2007 the EMF organized a Europe-wide day of action. The
NSN staff protested against the restructuring plan in
Düsseldorf, Berlin, Espoo (Finland), Cassina and Marcianise
(Italy), also in Spain, Belgium, France, Austria and the Netherlands. A
few days later central management agreed to enter into negotiations on
the establishment of an EWC.
from the courtroom
Labour Court permits union agreements on plant level
24th April 2007 the German Federal Labour Court (BAG) in Erfurt
clarified: Collective agreements negociated by unions on plant level
have priority before agreements negociated by works councils. The core
of the decision was dealing with the issue whether the peace clause as
laid down in the Works Constitution Act (a German feature to be
explained abroad only with difficulty) basically applies during
restructering or whether the freedom of association including the right
to strike applies. This BAG decision brings the collective labour law
in Germany closer to European normality. The following texts are
available only in German:
Information rights of the EWC: Judges
draw up criterias
court in Paris determined on 27th April 2007, which information the
employer must disclose to the European works council in case of
Europe-wide restructuring. The European Committee for Information and
Dialogue (ECID) of the telecommunications supplier Alcatel-Lucent,
where several thousand jobs are to be cut after the merger, had taken
legal action. Central management had not justified this reduction and
pointed out to "synergy effects" only generally (see report in EWC
employer argued in front of the court that the ECID is merely a
committee of social dialogue and not a full European works council. As
such it would not be entitled to the rights of information and
consultation in accordance with the EWC Directive because the committee
had been founded 1996 on a "voluntary" basis before the national EWC
laws came into force. Until present such agreements enjoy the right of
continuance according to article 13 of the EWC Directive. The court
followed this position, the workers' representatives also cannot refer
to the EU Directive on information and consultation from the year 2002.
management of Alcatel-Lucent was sentenced!"
court nevertheless came to the opinion that the central management has
not complied sufficiently with its duties of information and
consultation. The judgement was immediately published by the French
unions in a joint handbill (click on the picture on the right for
extending). The employer must present the following:
precise, figured report on the reasons for closure, relocation and
merger of business activities
precise, figured exposition of the calculation method and the elements
which were used for the calculation of the alleged staff overhang
the number of planned job cuts,
and to be more precise for every division and for every country,
separated into employee categories
and figured grounds for this distribution and the time schedule for the
information must be "complete and precise enough, to explain the
employment trend on an European level to the EWC and to allow for an
exchange of views and dialog with the management in view of full
knowledge of the facts". At the earliest 15 days after disclosure of
all information mentioned above a special session of the EWC can take
place to decide on a statement. According to this judgement central
management of Alcatel-Lucent is not obliged, however, to present a
redundancy scheme to the EWC, because firstly this is not a component
of the EWC agreement and secondly, results from the participation
rights of the works councils in single countries. The EWC does not
enjoy any priority compared to the national works councils. In the
opinion of the court participation and consultation rights in countries
concerned may not be postponed on the grounds, the EWC must be informed
limited expert support
once more protests at the companys' general meeting in Paris on 1st
June 2007, central management finally presented the information
demanded by the court in the middle of June 2007. The ECID does not
have any claim to an own expert, however. It can only count on experts
who advise the French group works council. For this reason a sound
evaluation of the presented financial data is only restrictedly
possible. The ECID delivered a statement on the restructuring on 4th
of the EMF explains judgements
European Metalworkers' Federation (EMF) explains some judgements in EWC
matters in the "newsletter on company policy".
Finnish company must bear redundancy scheme costs in France
highest French court of justice ("Cour de cassation") condemned the
Finnish electronic company Aspocomp to bear redundancy
scheme costs in the amount of 11 m. € for its former
factory Évreux in Normandy on 19th June 2007. The dismissals
had been justified with economical reasons in 2002, however, in opinion
of the court, been carried out improperly. Now the central management
in Espoo must pay for costs which would have had to be borne by the
meanwhile insolvent French subsidiary.
judgement is based on EU law and was only possible because the company
has its head office in the European single market. In comparable cases
of insolvency, e.g. the glass plant of LG.Philips Displays in Aachen or
the German locations of the mobile telephone manufacturer BenQ, central
management could abscond from their responsibility in Asia. This shows
the significance of EU legislation as an example for social
arrangements of the globalisation.
A British judgement strengthens
the first time a court in the UK adjudicated on the basis of the EU
Directive on information and consultation on 24th July 2007. The
Employment Appeal Tribunal in London decided on application of
the union Amicus against the newspaper publishing house Macmillan, a
subsidiary of the German Holtzbrinck group. British management has
refused insistently to recognize an employee representation and to
disclose financial data for years. Since it came neither at the
completion of a company agreement nor to the compliance with the legal
minimum regulations then being valid, Amicus started legal steps in
Macmillan ignored, however, the
ruling of the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), an independent
arbitration board which in actuality proceeds as the first instance
concerning industrial law in such matters. Therefore the London court
condemned the publishing house to the payment of a penalty of 55,000 £ (82,000 €), maximum
penalty would have been 75,000 £. Obviously the judges wanted
to set an example and to deter other companies from seeing violations
against EU employee rights as peccadillos.
chain of Berlusconi founds EWC
14th December 2006, an EWC agreement was signed according to Italian
law for the Italian media group of Mediaset in which the financial
holding Fininvest of the former prime minister Berlusconi is involved
substantially. Six members from Italy and two from Spain which meet
once a year belong to the EWC. One delegate each per country
coordinates the cooperation between meetings, they form a kind of
"mini-committee". Germany is not affected by this agreement because the
take-over of the TV station chain ProSiebenSat.1 Media by
Mediaset had failed in November 2006. In May 2007 Mediaset bought a
share in the Dutch TV producer Endemol ("Big Brother"), what could
possibly lead to an expansion of the scope of the EWC agreement.
Endemol is represented in five European countries, among them in
completed successfully in the Bauer publishing house
the same day as in the case of Mediaset an EWC agreement was signed for
the Bauer publishing group in Hamburg, too. The negotiations had been
extended over more than two years and were characterized by a heavy
blockade attitude of the employer. So e.g. the chairwoman of the
special negotiation body (SNB) received an official warning for
participating in a seminar on EWC formation. The agreement became
effective on 1st February 2007 and provides for an eight-headed EWC
with a three-headed presidium. Besides Germany (three delegates)
France, Spain, UK, Poland and Czechia are represented with one delegate
each. The constituting meeting is planned for December 2007. The
following documents are available only in German:
After the sale: Turbine
manufacturer founds EWC
On pressure of the European Commission the French
engineering company Alstom had to hive off some business divisions. So
was the production of power station turbines with 3,000 employees in
Germany, France and Britain (formerly Alstom Power Conversion, now
Converteam) sold to a British financial investor. Since 24th January
2007, there has been an EWC agreement according to French law which
provides two annual meetings for the nine EWC members in the company
based in Massy near Paris. These choose a steering committee of three,
which can initiate working groups within the EWC, comparable to the
regulations for the German utilities company Stadtwerke Leipzig and to
the Italian bank UniCredit (see report in EWC
training took place at Paris airport for the members and substitute
members on 22nd and 23rd May 2007 some weeks before the constituting
meeting. On suggestion of the French trade union CFDT and the European
Metalworkers' Federation (EMF) Dr Werner Altmeyer and Dr Heiner
Köhnen of the training and consultancy network
"euro-workscouncil.net" equiped the delegates with an intercultural and
communicative base for the work in the future EWC.
text in specialty chemicals
agreement on the formation of an European works council for the 1,900
employees of the U.S. company Cytec in Europe was signed on
19th June 2007 in Graz (Austria). The wording is
– characteristic for many Anglo-Saxon texts
– pragmatic, the management showed itself quite accommodating
at some points. So two meetings per year take place, in exceptional
circumstances an additional special session is called on application
within two weeks. Not only the twelve EWC members but also further
workers' representatives from locations concerned take part in it.
delegates are sent from Belgium and Austria, two from Germany and one
mandate each goes to Spain, Italy, Netherlands and Norway. France shall
join at the end of 2007, the staff is increased there at the moment.
Between meetings the business is run by a three-headed steering
committee whose members come from different countries. Furthermore the
agreement provides for training, expert support and a method to solve
disagreements outside the court. It is subject to Belgian law.
providers have difficulties with European works councils
Speed is regarded as an
entrepreneurial necessity especially in the software industry. However
if the management negotiates about the involvement of its employees in
cross-border restructurings, the processes turn out extremely tough.
Just before the end of the legal negotiation deadline of three years an
EWC agreement was signed for the French IT service provider
Atos Origin in Brussels on 28 June 2007. Two annual
meetings as well as expert support are scheduled. Based on the French
model the EWC is a mixed body to which employers’ and
workers' representatives belong.
three-year period however was not enough to reach an EWC agreement in
the U.S. software enterprise Oracle. The
negotiations failed between central management and the special
negotiation body (SNB) on 11 May 2007. Thus Oracle is besides the
engineering group Körber in Hamburg one of the few cases where
an EWC is founded by virtue of law.
Italian cement group renews EWC agreement
On 4th July 2007 a revised EWC agreement was signed in Rome for one of
the ten largest Italian industrial companies. Italcementi is the fifth
biggest cement manufacturer of the world with market leadership in the
Mediterranean region and disposes of an EWC since 1995.
The 26 EWC members meet once a year, when required a second plenary
session can take place. Eleven mandates are allotted to Italy, eight to
France, two each to Belgium, Spain and Bulgaria and one to Greece.
Aditionally one representative each of the three Italian trade union
confederations CGIL, CISL and UIL and the European Federation of
Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW) takes part in the meetings. The EWC is
chaired by an office composed of four members (Belgium, Italy, France,
Spain), which meet twice every year. The chairmanship lies with an
Italian trade unionist who is nominated jointly by the three
confederations from Italy. When required an expert can be consulted,
this one however only takes part in the preliminary meetings of the
employees’ side but not in the meetings with central
Company agreements on social standards
three agreements in a French utility group
August 2006 there have been intensive negotiations at Suez between
central management and the EWC on the international human resources
policy. Although the parties have not reached an agreement in all
points yet, three international framework agreements were signed on 3rd
July 2007: about a financial participation, about an anticipatory
personnel development planning and for the promotion of equal treatment
and diversity. For the first time all group employees worldwide will
get a financial participation.
agreement on anticipation of change
12th July 2007 the French group Schneider Electric signed an agreement
on anticipatory and socially compatible design of strategic company
policy with the European Metalworkers' Federation (EMF). The initiative
was taken by the employer in December 2006. The agreement is valid in
the same countries as the EWC agreement and contains rules for
competence development of the employees, for the early involvement of
the European works council prior to cross-border restructurings and for
the procedure in case of job cuts.
framework agreements on core labour standards
Within the last months a number of framework
agreements were signed again on the application of social principles
and core labour standards in worldwide active companies. The
contracting parties on employees' side are as a rule international
federations of trade unions, in some cases also the EWC.
13th April 2007 a worldwide framework agreement was signed for the
Dutch group Brunel which has particularly
specialized in project management and staff recruitment for the oil and
gas industry. Compliance with fundamental social standards, a claim to
company based further training and timely consultation of employee
representations in case of restructuring is assured to the 5,300
4th May 2007 on the edge of the EWC meeting in Barcelona, a global framework agreement
was signed on compliance with international labour standards for the
35,000 employees of the Canadian printing group Quebecor.
It was only in November 2006 it had almost come to a legal dispute
since the EWC was ignored in advance of several transnational
German WAZ group is taking on a pioneer role.
Within the last few years it has purchased numerous companies in
Eastern Europe and on the Balkans. The framework agreement signed on
4th July 2007 in Essen is worldwide the first one in the media sector.
In this agreement the company commits itself to respect fundamental
social rights at work and to establish a forum where once a year
representatives of all countries meet. The agreement was presented in
Brussels together with EU Commisioner Viviane Reding on 9th July 2007.
The German car supplier and
armour group Rheinmetall had concluded an international framework
agreement in 2003 and obliges itself to observe worldwide core labour
standards and to provide for equal opportunities and health protection.
The International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF) organized a meeting of
European and South American workers' representatives in Neckarsulm
(Germany) on 12th and 13th June 2007 to discuss the compliance with the
agreement. However, this meeting was not supported by the employer,
which was described by the president of IG Metall trade union
Jürgen Peters as a violation of democratic rules of the game
and even as a breach of the agreement. It was only after the press had
reported that central management offered a delegation of the European
works council to visit Brazilian factories. The EWC chairman Peter
Winter wants to accept the offer, but doesn't consider it a
substitute for worldwide monitoring meetings.
Negotiated participation in the SE
company without employee participation
7th December 2006 the Mensch und Maschine Software AG with seat in
Weßling near Munich was transformed into a European company.
The 300 employees in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy,
UK, Belgium, Sweden and Poland know neither works councils nor
an employee participation in the supervisory board. The situation
reminds a little of the substantially larger rival company SAP before
the formation of a works council was forced.
the course of the SE transformation the statutory consultation of the
workforce took place, which however did not show interest in a
participation. The separation into executive board and supervisory
board was lifted in the new legal structure of the company. There is
now only one management board modeled on British example. The company
founder has already announced that he would transfer the seat of the
corporation abroad, if he should be forced to introduce
co-determination in Germany. This also reminds of statements of the SAP
management before the formation of the works council.
as a SE pioneer in France
14th May 2007, three special negotiation bodies at Scor have come to an
agreement to form one joint SE works council for the three European
companies. This is not only the first case of a SE agreement in France
but also a completely new legal construction. There are two companies
below Scor holding: one for life insurances and one for other insurance
business. A joint SE works council ("Comité Commun des
Sociétés Européennes") consisting of
19 members which quarterly meets is to look after employee
participation. The employees' side can in addition send two
representatives to the administrative board of the holding.
concludes an exemplary participation agreement
Shortly before expiry of the
statutorily six months period, negotiations about a participation
agreement were completed in the medical group Fresenius on 13th July
2007 (see report in EWC
News 1/2007 on the beginning of the negotiations). Four
workers' directors from Germany and one each from Austria and Italy
will belong to the twelve-headed, equally composed supervisory board
(the trade unions had voiced in favor of 20 members). Among these are
four works council members and two full-time trade union officers (one
from the German service sector union ver.di and one from the
chemical sector union of the Italian confederation CISL).
SE works council consists of 29 members among them seven from Germany
and one each for the 22 other countries. The council elects a chairman,
two deputies and another four members who form the select committee.
The SE works council meets only once a year and special meetings are
only possible with restrictions, but the select committee has the right
to three meetings per annum, one thereof can serve to visit a foreign
plant, and is informed in extraordinary circumstances on time. Workers'
representatives from countries or locations concerned by concrete
measures then can be invited to such meetings in addition.
new SE works council has the power of initiative in a range of topics:
equal opportunities, health and safety at work, data protection as well
as training and further education policy. The employer bears seminar
costs, pays up to two experts and permits the participation of two
representatives of European trade union federations. Possible disputes
can be solved fast in an arbitration board.
of Porsche Automobil Holding SE
The supervisory board of a new
Porsche Automobil Holding SE convened for the constituent meeting in
Stuttgart on 24th and 25th July 2007. Prior to this a participation
agreement had been negotiated between central management and the
special negotiation body (SNB). The SNB met for the first time on 10th
May 2007, 17 members belonged to it from Germany, France, Spain, UK,
Ireland, Italy, Austria and Czechia as well as trade union officers of
IG Metall. In the new agreement the competences and the electoral
procedure for the future SE works council and the representation of
employees in the SE supervisory board are set.
Since in a German public
limited company the number of mandates would rise with an increasing
number of employees and thus more and more workers' directors
would move to the governance body, this remains unchanged with twelve
members in the SE supervisory board. This question plays a central role
in many SE foundations of German enterprises while the parity
representation in the supervisory board is accepted. The German group
works council chairman Uwe Hück became deputy chairman of the
SE supervisory board. The up to now existing Porsche AG (as a 100%
daughter) and the 31% share in Volkswagen are run under the roof of the
new holding. However, workers' directors of Volkswagen only get a claim
on seats in the new supervisory board, if Porsche increases the VW
participation to more than 50%. As a third column a new lorry group
could be integrated later after the planned MAN and Scania merger.
negotiations at BASF started
After the decision of the
general meeting on 26th April 2007 to change BASF into a SE the special
negotiation body (SNB) constituted itself in Heidelberg on 12th June
2007. It will conclude a SE participation agreement with central
management not later than November 2007. The 29 workers'
representatives from 23 countries elected Robert Oswald, the chairman
of the German group works council, as chairman of the SNB and engaged a
negotiation delegation of twelve representatives from Belgium, Germany,
France, UK, Italy, Poland, and Spain as well as a representative of the
executive staff to do the detail work.
Accompanying research for the
formation of Allianz SE
October 2006 the insurance group Allianz operates in the legal form of
an European company. The participation agreement of Allianz was the
first Europe-wide in such a large company and could become an example
for many others. For this reason the European federation of service
sector trade unions (UNI) had engaged the IMU-Institut in Munich to
carry out a scientific study on the process of the negotiations. Works
councils and union representatives in several countries were
questioned. The results were presented at a workshop in Brussels on 8th
and 9th May 2007.
studies: Aluminium and household appliances industry
merger wave at mining companies
high metal prices, a result of the increasing demand from China and the
accelerating world economic situation, fuel the take-over wave in the
primary industry. Through the buying up of competitors, market shares
can be increased faster and cheaper than by building new factories. How
do works councils behave in such situations? Do they remain passive
spectators or do they interfere on the event?
and Alcan were world market leaders in the aluminium industry for years
but since the merger of two Russian groups recently they are not any
longer. Therefore the U.S. company Alcoa tried in spring 2007 to take
over the Canadian competitor Alcan hostilely and to reconquer
the world's top position. When these take over plans were disclosed the
EWC of Alcan voiced against the merger at its meeting in Paris on 29th
and 30th May 2007. Such mega-mergers would not only be a danger for the
staff of the taken company but also for those of the buyer. The EWC
fears that the European aluminium industry will lose more and more
competence centres and research sites by doing so.
1st June 2007, workers' representatives of Alcan and Alcoa met in
Brussels on invitation of the European Metalworkers' Federation (EMF)
to discuss the effects of such a merger on the jobs: the German EWC
chairman of Alcoa, the French EWC secretary (spokesman of the
employees' side) of Alcan as well as two trade union officers, which
assist the European works councils on behalf of the EMF. After the
first conversation in the small circle further EWC members of both
groups from seven countries came together in Brussels on 21st June 2007
and agreed on a common procedure. They demanded the strict compliance
with their participation rights, the involvement in the process of EU
merger control and the immediate convening of a common special meeting
with central management of both groups.
knight" prevents a hostile take-over
special EWC session actually took place in Zurich on 25th July 2007,
but only for the EWC of Alcan. The CEO had arrived from Canada
personally to inform the workers' representatives in Europe about the
merger with Rio Tinto. The Anglo-Australian mining group based in
London had stood in on 12th July 2007 as a "white knight" to prevent
the hostile take-over by Alcoa. The deal will have the same dimension
as the take-over of Arcelor by Mittal Steel in June 2006.
central management of Rio Tinto will explain to the EWC of Alcan its
plans more exactly in the middle of September 2007. The sale of the
packaging division of Alcan, which amounts to 23 per cent of the
group’s turnover is particularly scheduled. The EWC demanded
a financial expert report to be able to assess the effects on the jobs
more exactly. For French shaped European works councils such extensive
advisory services are at the agenda - differently from British or
German companies. Great anxiety triggered the merger in Switzerland
(texts available only in German):
emerged from numerous take-overs, particularly the Swiss
Alusuisse-Lonza and the French Pechiney group, and additionally
disposes of important production sites in Germany and the UK. Already
since 1996 there were European works councils in these companies. After
completion of the mergers a new EWC agreement was signed according to
French law in March 2006.
Tinto does not have any EWC yet since large parts of the
sites are located outside Europe. In Australia the company is
confronted with heavy criticism of trade unions and environmental
groups because of violations of employee rights and safety regulations.
It remains to be seen how this anti trade union attitude will become
apparent in the European locations of Alcan. The EWC of Alcan
will probably represent the European employees of Rio Tinto in future.
could now become the chased himself
take-over of Alcan by Rio Tinto - Deutsche Bank served as an adviser in
the background - will fundamentally change the company landscape of the
mining industry. In stock exchange circles is speculated, the inferior
bidder Alcoa could himself become a target of a hostile take-over,
possibly by ArcelorMittal (see report
further above). Alcoa has a EWC according
to Dutch law since 2001 and is strongly represented in Spain, Italy and
Restructurings in the household
27th to 29th June 2007 representative of trade unions,
enterprises and science from the new and old EU countries met in Arezzo
(Italy) to discuss alternatives to current restructuring in the
household appliances industry. A survey done by the Istituto per il
Lavoro (IpL) in Bologna shows the dramatic extent of the shift to low
wage countries and the loss of jobs. The shutdown of the AEG plant at
Nuremberg had caused special attention in Germany. Measured in terms of
employee numbers this industry still takes the second place in Italy,
Spain and some Central European countries after the car industry.
the "white goods" were mainly produced in Germany, Sweden and Italy.
But already in the middle of the eighties a shift took place to
Southern Europe. While small equipment like iron, coffee machines or
vacuum cleaner is almost only produced today in Southeast Asia, the
production of the large equipment (washing machines and dishwashers,
dryers, ovens) drifted towards Middle and Eastern Europe including
Russia and Turkey where the market steadily grows and the wages
are still low. How shall trade unions and European works
councils behave at such restructurings?
the conference different approaches were discussed using case studies
and the challenges also assessed for the new EU countries. Already some
product lines shall be shifted from Eastern Europe to China. Which role
did the European works councils of Electrolux, Whirlpool,
BSH and Indesit play in the retrograde
production shifts? In all these cases a considerable lack of a
cross-border coordination was noticed. How employee representatives
behaved locally? About this also two case studies existed: the
enterprises Arctic from Romania and De' Longhi from Italy. At the end
of the meeting Prof Bierbaum of INFO-Institut in Saarbrücken
(Germany) introduced a suggestion for better coordination of EWC work
in this industry. All meeting presentations and documents are available
in the Internet on a special website.
industry-specific reports in earlier editions of EWC News (most in German):
8. Turkey: a topic for the EWC?
3rd October 2005 the accession negotiations started between Turkey and
the EU. Already since 1963 the country is associated with the European
economic community, the precursor of the EU, and joined in 1996 as the
only not EU country the customs union. Since 2002 Turkey experiences a
small economic miracle with growth rates of six per cent annual and
record influxes of foreign investments. Till now, 1,500 German
enterprises have established themselves, of this a third from the metal
industry. The most important export industry is the textile and
clothing industry, followed by motorcar suppliers and home appliances.
A third of all TV sets sold in the EU are from Turkey. With 73 m.
inhabitants it would be the second largest member state after Germany,
its most important trading partner, when joining the EU.
the 20 m. employees only about 14% are members of a trade union (what
corresponds to the standard of Spain), the majority in the
confederation Türk-İş. The legislator has set the trade unions
high hurdles: they can conduct collective bargaining only if they
represent more than 50% of the employees of a company whereas every
single membership must be verified notarially. The majority of the
employees in Turkey therefore is not covered by collective agreements.
The working week is generally 45 hours. There are no works councils,
however, the set-up of a site union representation is possible by
recognition agreement like in the UK. Turkey ratified the social
charter of the Council of Europe in September 2006, what is regarded as
an important signal in the context of EU accession negotiations.
According to calculations of the
European Trade Union Institute any eighth company falling under the
scope of the EWC Directive had a branch office in Turkey in 2006 (in
total 270 companies). If Turkey would already be member of the EU
today, Turkish delegates could move in into 152 already existing
European works councils. At present, five delegates and three observers
from Turkey are involved on a voluntary basis in some few councils.
On 24th and 25th April 2007 the
European Metalworkers' Federation (EMF) carried out a meeting in
Istanbul "Social Dialog and Corporate Social Responsibility in
South-East Europe" which was thought also in response to numerous cases
of hindrance of trade union activities in Turkey. According to the EMF
Turkish labour law does not comply yet with internatinally valid rules,
which apply everywhere in the EU. 600 participants of a Labour Day
demonstration were arrested in Istanbul few days later on 1st May 2007.
further reading (in German):
DGB Bildungswerk together with IG Metall published in 2005 a booklet
worth reading on the history, the economy and the social system of
Turkey as well as on the current problems of the Turkish society with
regard joining to the EU.
Tradition und Wandel
am Main 2005, 52 pages, € 3,50
The euro zone will be enlarged
two countries may introduce the euro as a means of payment on 1st
January 2008: Malta and South Cyprus. The EU Council of Ministers
decided on it under the presidency of the German Chancellor of the
Exchequer Peer Steinbrück on 10th July 2007. The Maltese lira
and the Cyprian pound will then be converted at a fixed rate in euro
coins and banknotes. The former Yugoslavian republic Slovenia had
introduced the euro already at the beginning of 2007 as the first of
the EU accession states.
future the euro zone will thus cover 15 of the 27 EU member states with
about 320 m. inhabitants. But already in 2009 Slovakia could join, in
2011 the three Baltic states and Bulgaria. In contrast, the
economically most important countries in Middle and Eastern Europe
(Poland, Hungary and Czechia) will satisfy the criteria for the
monetary union at the earliest in 2012, Romania only 2014.
Previous focuses on countries
in EWC News (mostly in German):
and EWC - a contradictory relationship?
Since January 2006 a research
project on European works councils in Austria is running at the
Institute for Society and Social Policy at Linz University. EWC
members, trade union secretaries and management representatives are
interviewed in twelve groups. Similar to the German study by Prof.
Kotthoff the Linz researchers identified several models. They have
investigated the role of central management and classified into types.
We continue today with the presentation of selected results.
2: The EWC as a presentation forum for the group
In type 2 no
well-established cooperation could develop between management and EWC
for a long time, relations have remained contrary. Central management
informs the EWC selective and slightly transparent. The EWC meetings
are clearly dominated by presentations of management: abstract charts
and highly aggregated business data represent the performance of the
company. These sometimes very elaborate presentations are part of the
professional routine of top managers, serve to image advertising and
are elements of the "marketing strategy of the group".
that restructurings are justified and explained, this should increase
the understanding of the delegates and mitigate the risk of costly
labour disputes. Comments of EWC members are welcome as long as they do
not contradict management's position. Neither a critical dialogue has
developed nor compromises on labour issues are possible.
The core problem of the EWC of type 2 is that the focus on shareholder
value principle opens no room to the participation of employee
representatives. Monetary and quantitative targets form the basis of
corporate control, the management decides solely on the basis of owners
interests about goals and strategies. European works councils of type 2
are often found in Anglo-Saxon companies, to a lesser extent also in
some continental European companies.
The further types are:
of the conduct of negotiations in the EWC
„Intercultural competence and robust
transnational solidarity rise in times of the globalisation to
strategic key resources of trade union representation.“
core statement is from a research outline of the institute for
sociology of University of Erlangen Nuremberg which draws one's
attention to a delicate "internationalization deficit" of the
employees' side compared to the management. Under the title
"communication and solidarity in cross culture employee cooperation"
surveys have started in several multinational enterprises at the
beginning of 2007.
The project assistants Matthias
Klemm and Dr Jan Weyand are particularly interested in which concrete
conditions an intercultural communication becomes successful in the
EWC. Besides expert interviews - one took place under participation of
Werner Altmeyer, training and consultancy network
"euro-workscouncil.net", in Erlangen on 14th April 2007, - proceedings
in interculturally composed works council meetings are recorded and
analysed. Previously, the project team "cross cultural solidarity" had
already carried out German Czech comparable studies on communication in
multinational enterprises. The following texts are available only in
EWC research in the motor industry
A research project on European works
councils in the motor industry started at the Ruhr University of Bochum
on 1st March 2007. The team around Prof Dr Ludger Pries would like to
develop an EWC typology, to examine structural conditions of its work
and to analyse results of negotiations between EWC and management. The
empirical study will cover production sites in Germany, France, UK,
Spain and Poland of the following groups: DaimlerChrysler, Volkswagen,
General Motors, Ford, Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroën.
part of this research project a workshop took place in Bochum with
scientists from six countries from 9th to 14th July 2007 to examine
different aspects of EWC research. Particularly interesting were the
country studies on European works councils which were introduced by
speakers from Poland, UK, France and Spain. In his contribution Dr
Werner Altmeyer from the training and consultancy network
"euro-workscouncil.net" followed the question whether European works
councils would need codetermination rights or preferably negotiation
Interesting web pages
Employee participation in Europe
new topic page of the European Trade Union Institute provides
background information about numerous aspects of employee
participation: European works councils, participation in the European
company, information and consultation at a national company level, EU
legislation, social dialog at European level and special features of
industrial relations in each of the 27 EU member countries. Particular
aspects, e.g. collective bargaining systems, health and safety or
participation rights, can be compared "at the touch of a button"
between the countries.
British mega-trade union merger
United Kingdom has a new trade union since May 1st, 2007: Unite with
two million members has resulted from the merger of two multi-sector
unions – Amicus which is strongly
represented in numerous sectors among others in the metal industry (see
sectors), and the transport workers’ union T&G
which is already grown beyond this sector (see T&G
sectors). Unite wants to concentrate on the recruitment of
younger employees (10% of the complete budget is provided for this) and
the international cooperation.
is not only the largest British trade union but also leading in
manufacturing, in the transport sector, banks and insurances, in the
food and in the printing industry. It has also a strong membership base
in the building and construction industry and in some services sectors,
e.g. the cleaning and security trade. In the private sector there is
only one other individual union with GMB, which is besides Unite
numerical of importance. The merger shall be completed until November
2008, after that mergers are planned at an international level: with
the steelworkers union of the USA and Canada (USW).
posting made easy
Eurocadres, the Council of
European professional and managerial staff has published a manual for
deployment abroad on the Internet. It is aimed at all employees who
work in another member country of the EU or want to return from there.
For every EU country information can be retrieved about the residence
and contract of employment right, the recognition of professional
qualifications and diplomata, the national insurance system, the
taxation, trade unions and working conditions up to tips for the search
of a flat and looking for work.
Italian EWC portal
financial help of the EU the Italian trade union confederation UIL has
put an own site for European works councils (Italian: Comitati
aziendali europei - Cae) into the net. Besides EWC information other
topics like the EU Directive on information and consultation, the
European company and transnational collective bargaining could also be
have compiled numerous further interesting links in a link
Which identity does a European
works council have?
This English-speaking anthology, which deals with
the question about the collective identity of European works councils
has been published in May 2007. Authors from several EU countries
examine different aspects of the current EWC research. How do employee
representatives perform their work as an EWC member with a different
Whittall/Herman Knudsen/Fred Huijgen (eds.)
European Labour Identity
case of the European Work Council
York 2007, 233 pages, ISBN 978-0-415-40396-2, € 120,99
knowledge concerning EU topics
This exercise book
deals with the political system of the EU (bodies, competences), the
economic integration (single market, euro zone, Europeanization of the
economic policy) and its social consequences (pay, social systems,
taxes, migration, company relocations). A special attention is put on
the problems of the Eastern enlargement and the prospects of the
European social model. The book is suitable as a reference book as well
as for adult education. It emerged in the context of the
project "work and prosperity in an enlarged Europe". The training and
consultancy network "euro-workscouncil.net" added some texts on
European works councils. The book is available only in German.
Alexandra Baum-Ceisig/Klaus Busch/Claudia Nospickel
Die Europäische Union
Einführung in die politischen, ökonomischen und
sozialen Probleme des erweiterten Europa
Baden-Baden 2007, 371 pages, ISBN
978-3-8329-2138-5, € 14,90
of cross-border meetings
A book for the German
French cooperation has been released in May 2007, which provides
valuable suggestions including for European works councils. The authors
do not only give practical tips how meetings or project teams can be
facilitated with French, Luxembourg, Swiss and German participants -
but moreover, deliver also scientifically sound instructions to the
intercultural understanding. Using many case studies they show dangers,
which can lead to misunderstandings, disturbances and possibly even to
failure of intercultural projects.
The intercultural guide is a kind of "toolbox" and was composed by
experts of the intercultural cooperation from the German French Euro-Institut
in Kehl. The book is available only in German.
Institut für grenzüberschreitende Zusammenarbeit (ed.)
Moderation grenzüberschreitender Sitzungen
2007, 108 pages, ISBN 978-3-8329-2477-5, € 19,-
Labour law manual with an European part
The new edition of this manual does not only
represent comprehensively material labour law and labour court
procedures in Germany from the employee view but contains one section
each of the international labour law and of the European community law.
Here basic knowledge can be refered to (hierarchy of norms,
transposition of Directives etc.), however information about all
important Directives concerning labour law is also part of it. A
chapter deals separately with the collective European labour law and
among other things with the European works council and the SE works
council. The book is available only in German.
Michael Kittner/Bertram Zwanziger (editors)
für die Praxis mit CD-ROM
Frankfurt am Main 2007, 4. edition, 2.993 pages,
ISBN 978-3-7673-3773-3, € 189,-
12. Training and Consultancy
further examples of our work
faces in EWC advice and research
growing demand for the offers of the training and consultancy network
"euro-workscouncil.net" required reinforcements of our team. Two new
members have joined in spring 2007, both very familiar since years with
international trade union activities and industrial relations.
studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE),
a PhD thesis on trade unions in the UK and teaching at the University
of Hamburg Dr Carmen Bauer (photo) worked at the
national office of the German postal workers union. She then became the
personal assistant of the president of the German Industrial Union of
Construction-Agriculture-Environment (IG BAU) Klaus
Wiesehügel and later political secretary with the Brussels
based European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW). She is
now in charge of the practice of European works councils, configuration
of EWC agreements and European health and safety at work within the
Stelzl (photo) is just about to complete his PhD thesis on
social standards of German enterprises in Brazil. Since 1992 he is
working as a trainer in international seminars, as project manager and
freelance journalist. His main emphasis of work is on the cross-border
cooperation of workers' representatives, international company codes of
conduct on working and social standards as well as communication and
conflict training. He will strengthen both the publication and also the
research activity within the training and consultancy network
Active EWC work in an Austrian
has a similar past like Volkswagen: founded at the Nazi time the
state-owned enterprise was after the war noted as a focus of trade
union movement and for outstanding company benefits. Today voestalpine
with its parent plant in Linz at the Danube (photo) is a highly
profitable, quoted manufacturing company with an own steel base
– and an exemplary EWC agreement. The workers'
representatives from the four areas steel, railway systems, automotive,
and profiled forms carry out cross-border division meetings
with the respective division management. Such regulations exist only in
few enterprises e.g. in the aviation and aerospace group EADS
and in the Swedish packaging group SCA.
training and consultancy network "euro-workscouncil.net" organized a
workshop for the European works council in Linz on 16th April 2007. In
working groups it was for example acquired how one can better anchor
the EWC in the workforce, use the secretariat as an information
turntable or develop the EWC further to a transnational negotiating
party. The following texts are available only in German:
Metall pushes EWC formations at the lower Rhine region
There is still a considerable backlog demand for
the setting-up of European works councils in the metal and textile
industry as well as in wood-processing. To push this process in smaller
and medium companies which are seated at the lower Rhine, a meeting
took place in Krefeld on 30th April 2007, which was co-organized by the
training and consultancy network "euro-workscouncil.net". The
initiative started out from IG Metall trade union which is responsible
for these sectors in Germany.
Workshop for the EWC formation
at the Black Sea
25 workplace representatives and full-time trade union officers of the
transport sector from six countries met from 5th to 8th May 2007 in the
Romanian seaport Constanţa to inform themselves about means and limits
of European works councils. The workshop took place in the context of a
project sponsored by EU funds with the support of the European
Transportworkers' Federation (ETF). Speakers of the event were besides
Werner Altmeyer of the training and consultancy network
"euro-workscouncil.net", Philippe Alfonso of the ETF in Brussels and
Erika Young, a deputy chairwoman of the International Transportworkers'
Federation (ITF) in London. The port of Constanţa is regarded as
"Rotterdam of the East" because of its strategic situation at the
Rhine-Main-Danube route and the considerable volume handling.
in the chemical industry
3rd July 2007, Dr Werner
Altmeyer and Bernhard Stelzl from the training and consultancy network
"euro-workscouncil.net" attended a conference in Rome
to report on the rights of German works councils in restructuring. The
conference is part of an EU-funded project on the implementation of the
Directive on information and consultation, led by the research
institute Cesos and the trade union confederation CISL from Italy. In
the coming months, empirical findings are brought together in some
companies in the chemical industry. Cesos has already published on its
website case studies from France, Hungary, Italy, Spain and Romania -
also from other industries.
April 2007 Bernhard Stelzl dealt with the topic "taking
on responsibility - Corporate Social Responsibility in
Germany" in an article for the Personalmagazin. In
May 2007 Werner Altmeyer and Lionel Fulton presented in the magazine der
betriebsrat the current situation of workplace representation
in Britain. And Reingard Zimmer examined Europe-wide antidiscrimination
agreements in the magazine Arbeitsrecht im Betrieb
in July 2007.
With technical support of the training and
consultancy network "euro-workscouncil.net" the paper Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung published a report on current trends of
EWC activities particularly at restructurings on 21st
The report is available only in German.
find additional publications at our publications
newsletter: new edition
On 4th June 2007 the third
issue of the EWC newsletter, jointly published by the unions ver.di in
Germany and GPA in Austria, was released. The contents are co-designed
by the training and consultancy network "euro-workscouncil.net". Topics
of the issue 1/2007 were the new EWC agreement at UniCredit with an
interview of the chairman of the German group works council of
HypoVereinsbank, Peter König, a report on the establishment of
European works councils in the finance sector, European works councils
in tourism (particularly the situation at Thomas Cook after the merger
with MyTravel), the Europe-wide EWC-networking in media companies,
accents in the energy sector and a report of the meeting of the
services sector trade unions (UNI) in Athens. The newsletter
is available only in German.
Courier, parcel and express
services: Study on EWC formation
present, the training and consultancy network "euro-workscouncil.net"
is working on an analysis of EWC agreements in the area of the courier,
parcel and express services. The study is financially promoted by the
European Commission and serves to support the EWC formation in this
sector, e.g. at GeoPost. The study is to be published in autumn 2007
and deals particularly with the companies DHL (Deutsche Post), FedEx,
Securicor, TNT, UPS and Wincanton.
Details of seminars planned
Registration for the following
seminars and workshops that we have co-designed can now be made:
Europe for trade union
officers of IG Metall
Institutions, political fields,
European works councils
08 -- 10-10-2007 in Bad Orb
activities in Europe, the European works council (EWC)
Legal basis, foundation,
04 -- 09-11-2007 in Hamburg
details about this seminar (in German)
Formation of European
works councils in the port sector
18 -- 24-11-2007 in Livorno
→ Further details
about this workshop
Please find a survey of the
subjects for in-house events here:
of In-house seminars
for in-house lectures
News is published by:
and consultancy network "euro-betriebsrat.de" GbR
collaborating on this issue:
Altmeyer, Carmen Bauer,
Kathleen Kollewe, Bernhard Stelzl, Reingard Zimmer
of the German
version: 8,589 Empfänger
of the English version: 870 readers
of the French version: 495 readers
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