European Commission gives green light
A new EWC Directive shall be
adopted in 2008
23rd October 2007 the European Commission in Brussels (photo) adopted
its work programme for the year 2008. There, a revision of the EWC
Directive is explicitly mentioned. The second phase of the European
social partners consultation is expected to start before the end of the
year 2007 what is demanded by the trade unions for over two years. The
decision of the European Commission is a political precedent of the
first rank and corresponds to the demand of the European Parliament
which had voiced in favor of the speedy revision of the EWC Directive
in a resolution in May 2007 (see report in EWC
Commissioner Vladimír Špidla has already
instructed his staff to formulate a draft legal text. Should the Czech
social democrat wants to make a name for himself as EU Commissioner on
this important socio-political issue before the expiry of his term of
office (what his remarks in the plenary of the European Parliament
suggests) then not much time left for the final stages of the
content will the initiative have?
suggest an improvement over the current EWC Directive, the document of
the Directorate-General of Špidla will most likely
the minimum number of annual meetings
the support by experts easier
a claim to training for EWC members
the participation rights of national and European works councils more
the effects of mergers on the EWC.
a suggestion from the European Commission would not only take up
important demands of the trade unions but also calm French enterprises,
which are made uncertain by numerous judgements. Almost all proceedings
since adoption of the EWC Directive were decided in front of French
courts and brought as a rule an increase in influence for the
employees' side. In 1997 a French court had for the first time stopped
the shutdown of the Belgian plant Vilvoorde on application of the
Renault EWC. The more recent verdicts on Gaz de France and
Alcatel-Lucent (see report in EWC
News 2/2007) also point in the same direction.
trend is now seen not only for French companies as a threat (see report in EWC
News 1/2007) and a more precise definition of the legal
rights of the EWC is specifically requested. In addition, EU Directives
of a recent date like that for the participation in the European
company (SE) provide further-reaching participation rights than the
relatively old EWC Directive. This could pose an additional risk for
employers in court.
Employers now very concerned
While the debate has been
treated since the beginning of the legislative procedure in April 2004
by employers rather casually, has in recent weeks concentrated their lobbying behind the scenes
considerably. It is suggested that it is now "getting serious". On 10th
October 2007 the German employers president Dieter Hundt (on the photo
on the right) wrote to social Commissioner Špidla, to
prevent the second and decisive phase of consultation on the revision
of the EWC Directive. It would "harm the social dialogue", said Hundt.
On 15th October 2007 the DGB executive board turned to
Špidla to confirm him in his plan.
the Confederation of European Employers (BusinessEurope) in a meeting
on 19th October 2007 again underscored his opposition to any change to
the current Directive, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) on
29th October 2007 demanded in a letter to Špidla, he should
carry out the announced project as planned. According to reports the
European Commission has already prepared a roadmap that describes the
various steps to the adoption of the new Directive, if the employers'
associations maintain its opposition.
Mega-mergers complicate the EWC work
hotels acquired by
24th October 2007 the traditional Hilton hotel group with 2,896 houses
belongs to the business empire of Blackstone. The "grasshopper" was
ready to pay the shareholders 32% above the market value, total 26 bn $
(about 18 bn €). By that Blackstone was able to increase the
total number of its hotel rooms on 600,000 and is now the largest hotel
owner in the world. The investment company obviously intends to grow in
the hotel industry through further acquisitions. The takeover of Hilton
is the biggest deal that has seen the tourism industry so far ever.
European works council in the
the German delegates met
in February 2007 to prepare for the spring meeting of the EWC, nobody
suspected the upcoming events. The sale of the 132 Scandic hotels to
the Swedish financial investor EQT for 1.1 bn $ (0.8 bn €) had
just been published. Hereafter on the part of the management there was
a strange silence, until finally, on 3rd July 2007, the takeover offer
by Blackstone followed.
Monjé (photo), chairman of the works
council in Mainz and secretary of the European works council, tried
unsuccessfully in recent months to call a special meeting of the EWC,
or at least of the steering committee, with central management. This
was completely replaced by the new owner already on 29th October 2007
whereby the EWC now is facing a completely new manager team. We asked
Manfred Monjé how he assesses the situation from the
perspective of employee representation.
Rio Tinto denied information
After the takeover offer by the
Anglo-Australian resources company Rio Tinto (see report in EWC
News 2/2007), the EWC of Alcan representing 31,000 workers of
the Canadian aluminum producer in Europe criticizes the lack of
information on the planned sale of the packaging division and
of other businesses. In
late September 2007 a delegation of the EWC was heard by the European
Commission in the context of merger control and on 8th October 2007 the
employee representatives of Alcan had the first opportunity to discuss
with the management of Rio Tinto. Many questions remained unanswered,
so the EWC in a press release.
Mega-acquisition in the
is the largest bank merger in economic history. The Royal Bank of
Scotland (RBS) won the race against the also British Barclays Bank on
the acquisition of the big Dutch bank ABN Amro. RBS will pay 71 bn
€ for ABN Amro in a consortium with Banco Santander from Spain
and Fortis from Belgium. The latter is then broken down and 19,000 jobs
will be eliminated. Fortis wants to take over the branches in the
Netherlands, Santander the subsidiaries in Italy and Brazil.
The federation of services
sector trade unions (UNI) founded in June 2007 a worldwide network
which quickly led discussions with the top management of the two
bidders to clarify the demands of the employees. The result is a
ten-point commitment by the new owners, so-called "People Principles".
The unions want to go much further and call for an international
framework agreement for each of the participating banks, including
Barclays. All have a European works council since the mid-90s, only
Banco Santander was followed in 2005. As part of the acquisition, the
EWC of ABN Amro will be dissolved and delegates distributed to other
councils. ABN Amro has a subsidiary in Sweden, which was transformed in
October 2005 as Europe's first bank to the legal status of a European
round of merger poker
with the EWC
After the decision of the French President
Nicolas Sarkozy to complete the merger of the energy groups Suez and
Gaz de France (GdF) finally, the works councils want now to go to court
again. In November 2006, the merger has been stopped by injunction at
the request of the European works council of Gaz de France. This time
the EWC of Suez, the other merger partner, intends to take legal action.
On 2nd September 2007, the employee
representatives of Suez were informed on the details at an
extraordinary meeting in Paris. On 4th and 5th September 2007 the
steering committee of the EWC met to decide his next moves. The merger
would create the third largest energy group in the world, beforehand
the waste and water business should be removed from the Suez group and
sold on the stock exchange.
At a plenary
meeting on 9th and 10th October
2007 in Barcelona, the European works council of Suez authorized its
secretary, that is the speaker of the employees' side, to initiate
legal steps. In a press statement, he criticized the fact that the
details of the merger have been negotiated between the French
government and the main shareholders of both companies, without first
obtaining the views of the works councils. This was a breach of the EWC
EWC of Gaz
de France is playing for time
At an extraordinary EWC meeting on 12th
September 2007 the European works council of Gaz de France expressed
his opposition. It would be a new measure that differs from the plans
of 2006 in many ways. Therefore, a completely new process of
information and consultation would be required. In another EWC meeting
on 26th October 2007 the various legal opinions clashed already.
The EWC members had received a more than
100-page document for consultation only a few days before. They refused
to comment on this until all have a copy available in their mother
tongue. The EWC warned the central management to unilaterally implement
measures before the completion of the consultation process. This would
immediately lead to a new round of litigation. Hence the central
management will have to act cautiously to avoid a new defeat in court.
This would not only delay the merger process, but also damage the new
French president politically.
trade unions set up legal protection fund
In view of the increasing number of legal
disputes in EWC issues the European Federation of Public Service Unions
(EPSU) will establish a legal protection fund. Deputy General Secretary
Jan Willem Goudriaan told the EWC News, EPSU is thus playing a
pioneering role. No other federation has such a fund so far.
representatives in Vienna
31st January 2007 the Supreme Court of
Austria ruled in favor of the obligation to provide information in
preparing the establishment of an EWC, confirming a ruling of first
instance of 11th January 2006. It is the first ever ruling by an
Austrian court in an EWC matter. Since 1996 the German group works
council of the transport company Kühne + Nagel (KN) failed to
establish an EWC. Several times he had already to sue in court
translation and travel expenses. The KN group based in Switzerland and
therefore outside the EU wants to prevent by all means the creation of
a pan-European employee representation.
dispute goes back to a decision of the European Court of Justice in
Luxembourg in January 2004 that the German subsidiary of the group has
to initiate the necessary steps for the formation of the EWC. However
it is not authorized to issue instructions to its sister companies
based in other EU countries. Since the central management in
Switzerland continued to boycott the procedure, legal steps had to be
taken again. Kühne
+ Nagel Hamburg went to court against Kühne + Nagel Vienna,
because the Austrian management refused to give information to Germany.
So the employer sued himself to delay the EWC foundation further. A
similar lawsuit is currently pending in
New EWC and SE agreements
EWC agreement was signed for the employees of Pfleiderer under German
legislation on 9th August 2007. The company from Neumarkt (Bavaria) has
eight locations in Germany and three in Poland, furthermore a company
in Sweden was incorporated in March 2007. Pfleiderer supplies the
furniture industry with wood materials such as chipboards.
will get four seats on the EWC, Poland two and Sweden one. Eight EWC
meetings will take place during the first four years, at least one per
year. The council is headed by a steering committee composed of three
members. The constituent meeting is scheduled for November 2007.
EWC agreements in the industrial assembly
the first time on 30th August 2007, an EWC agreement for Bilfinger
Berger Industrial Services (BIS) was signed in Munich. The company,
emerged from Rheinhold & Mahla, belongs to the Bilfinger Berger
group since 2002 and deals with the establishment and maintenance of
industrial plants. In addition to 22 German locations there are branch
offices in 15 EU countries and Switzerland. At the constitutive EWC
meeting, held on the same day, there was a crucial vote for the
the assembly company Kaefer there has been a European works council
already since 1995 which now has a new foundation. On 11th September
2007 the new EWC agreement was signed at the headquarters in Bremen,
which both includes the new EU countries and defines the participation
rights of the EWC more clearly. The next aim of the EWC is to negotiate
with management for minimum conditions for the cross-border posting of
Airbus site with its own EWC
6th September 2007 an EWC agreement was signed under German law for PFW
Aerospace in Speyer (formerly Palatinate aircraft works). Germany is
represented with five seats, France and the UK each with two. The EWC
meets twice a year, can establish its own working groups such as
occupational health and safety and has an access right to all European
plants. Special meetings will be held for unforeseen events. In the
case of mergers, a renegotiation of the entire EWC agreement is
provided, whereby the new EWC Directive is already pre-empted.
with a Macedonian representative
12th September 2007 Europe's first agreement that includes Macedonia
was signed for the about 10,000 employees of the regional energy
supplier EVN establised in Maria Enzersdorf (Lower Austria). In
addition to three representatives each from Austria and Bulgaria one
representative from the former Yugoslav republic will belong to the EWC.
We have made available other
EWC agreements on a
manufacturer with SE works council
15th June 2007 the Hager group from Blieskastel operates as a European
company (SE). Before, on 23rd May 2007, an agreement on employee
participation was signed for the 7,600 employees in Europe. The origins
of the company lie in the Saarland (Germany) and Alsace (France),
factories in Italy, Spain, Britain and Poland are added.
1998 Hager has a 17-member European works council which could meet once
a year. This is now replaced by an SE works council which meets twice a
year and has stronger participation rights than the EWC. Its 22
members, including six from France and three from Germany, came
together for the constitutive meeting on 18th September 2007 in Obernai
(France). Since Hager has less than 2,000 employees in Germany, the
company did not fall under the Co-Determination Act. Therefore there
will be no employee representative on the new SE supervisory board.
framework agreements on core labour standards
In recent months two new
framework agreements were signed on the application of social
principles and core labor standards in global companies. Contracting
parties on the employee side are the international trade union
28th September 2007 an
international framework agreement was signed in Brussels for 14,000
employees of the Belgian metal and chemical company Umicore
which covers 35 countries. In the agreement human and trade union
rights, working conditions, environmental issues and equal treatment
are addressed. A committee will monitor compliance with the agreement.
4th October 2007 the first
international framework agreement in the textile industry was signed in
Corruna (Spain) for the world's second largest clothing retailer
Inditex. It provides for the respect for international labour
standards throughout the production chain, thus also for the suppliers.
The agreement will be monitored annually by a working group made up of
three representatives of the company and the unions. The management of
Inditex tries already some time to ensure compliance with minimum
standards (see report
in EWC News 1/2007).
Success in Brazil
In May 2007, the Canadian
printing group Quebecor had signed a global
framework agreement (see report in
EWC News 2/2007), which now shows initial success. Following
a worldwide day of action a social dialog was installed at the factory
Ipojuca (Brazil), the local union recognized as a negotiating partner,
80 temporary workers fixed and the dismissal of workers representatives
on the way to the global works council
After the successful conclusion
of negotiations on a European works council for the steel group (see report in
EWC News 2/2007), 150 workers representatives from 23
countries met for the first ArcelorMittal World Conference from 16th to
18th September 2007 in Montreal (Canada). They signed an agreement on
international cooperation and a letter of intent to form a global works
Global conference of
Siemens works councils
Siemens workers' representatives from 17 countries in Europe, Asia and
America met on 25th and 26th October 2007 in Frankfurt, Germany to
discuss working conditions and global strategies of the group. It was
already the third meeting of this kind. The employer was asked to
recognize and implement worldwide basic standards as the core labour
standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and guidelines
for multinational companies of the Organisation for Economic
studies: Unilever and Volkswagen
despite record profit
Anglo-Dutch consumer goods group Unilever was able to increase its net
profit by 16% to 1.2 bn € only in the second quarter of 2007.
Nevertheless the central management announced on 2nd August 2007 the
closure of 50 of the 300 factories and the elimination of 20,000 jobs
in the world. For years already, a restructering is following the next.
The European works council
learned of it from the press and addressed on the same day in a
circular to all employees. But only on 4th September 2007 it met with
central management in Rotterdam at an extraordinary meeting, which
however did not provide any concrete information on the proposed
24th and 25th September 2007
the European works council and the European Federation of Food Trade
Unions (EFFAT) founded Unilever Coordination Committee came together in
Amsterdam with representatives from Germany, France, Britain, Italy and
the Netherlands to plan the protests across Europe. Highlight should be
a demonstration on 4th December 2007 at the corporate headquarters in
Solely in the
Netherlands three out of six plants are to be closed (see
graphic). There, the workforce went on strike on 11th October 2007 to
maintain all sites and to enforce a three-year job guarantee. From an
external consulting firm which was engaged by the works councils the
viability of all locations had been confirmed earlier. Since the
national managers only execute the decisions of the European
headquarters they are no real negotiating partners for the employee
representation. The European works council on the other hand has only
consultation, but no bargaining rights. The union FNV Bondgenoten
documented the events on its own web page.
4,000 jobs should be eliminated - in ten plants and in the central
administration. On 18th October 2007 the employees' side in the group
works council discussed about that.
Judges weaken Volkswagen
On two consecutive days, courts
ruled on the future of co-determination at Volkswagen. On 23rd October
2007, the Volkswagen Act of 1960 was declared illegal by the European
Court of Justice in Luxembourg. And a day later, the Stuttgart labour
court rejected an urgent application of the VW works council against
the participation agreement of the Porsche Automobil Holding SE.
The Volkswagen law limits the
voting rights of shareholders at 20% whereby the largest German car
maker has been protected from a hostile takeover so far. In addition
the state of Lower Saxony is in principle represented by two seats on
the supervisory board. The employees together with the state government
had always a majority, particularly in the prevention of site closures.
The European Commission, however, considered this as a violation of
free capital movement. The Court now ruled, that Volkswagen law
prevents private investors from participate in the company and from
being able to effectively participate in its administration.
the way is free for Porsche for a takeover of the majority stake in
Volkswagen. For this reason Porsche Automobil Holding was founded as a
European company (SE) already in July 2007 (see report in
EWC News 2/2007). Under the umbrella of the holding company
the current Porsche AG (100% subsidiary) and the 31% stake in
Volkswagen are summarized. The employee representatives of Volkswagen
were not involved in negotiating the participation agreement which is
terminable at the earliest in ten years.
EWC fears dissolution
soon as Porsche increases its VW stake to more than 50%, the most
important decisions would no longer be made in the supervisory board of
Volkswagens but in the supervisory board of the new Porsche Automobil
Holding SE. Employees of both sub-groups are to be represented properly
there - says the SE agreement. In practice 324,000 Volkswagen employees
would only get three seats, as much as the nearly 12,000 Porsche
employees. The European works council at VW, which consists of 27
members, would be dissolved and Volkswagen be represented with twenty
delegates in the SE works council of Porsche. Likewise Porsche is to
receive twenty seats there. On this point there was a public dispute
between the two works council chairmen.
10th October 2007 the global
works council of Volkswagens also supported the criticism at its
meeting in Mladá Boleslav, seat of the Czech subsidiary
Škoda. Currently it is still unclear whether this council,
which enforced a world-wide Social Charter in June 2002, will also be
the management of Porsche
strictly rejects renegotiations the works council of Volkswagen
requested an interim injunction against the registration of Porsche
Automobil Holding SE. On 24th October 2007 the Stuttgart labour court
rejected this request. This cleared the way for the register court to
finalize the registration on 13th November 2007. The works council of
Volkswagen has announced to proceed then with the normal judicial
action. Porsche is now the second case in which there is such a
litigation. Already 2004 the registration of the construction holding
Strabag SE led to a legal dispute that could be settled by mutual
agreement but without verdict.
The following texts are only available in German:
of IG Metall executive board
Thomas Klebe, head of
department for company policy and codetermination in the head office of
IG Metall trade union, considered not undermined by the judgment the
participation in the supervisory board of Porsche Automobil Holding SE.
To solve the conflicts between the two works councils, a conversation
took place on 30th October 2007 in Frankfurt am Main at the invitation
of the second chairman of IG Metall, Berthold Huber. Earlier the
Porsche works council signaled willingness to compromise regarding the
allocation of seats in the new SE works council.
against the unfavorable codetermination scheme the work rested for an
hour in all six West German VW plants on 31st October 2007. Strikes are
not possible in Germany due to the peace obligation. However the Works
Constitution Act gives works councils the right to such information
sessions during working hours.
Workers' representatives set an example
8. The Anglo-Saxon
system of corporate social relations
| Ireland goes other ways than
Ireland is closely linked with Britain by a
long history, and the work relationships are similar. Since 1922, the
Republic of Ireland became independent and a member of the EU in 1973.
With its 4.2 million inhabitants (as much as Saxony) Ireland takes part
in the monetary union in contrast to the UK and has introduced the euro
as currency from the beginning. Previously the island was one of the
poorest regions of the EU, but could catch up significantly after EU
accession. Because of high growth rates and strong decline in
unemployment (with 4% today, the third lowest rate in Europe) the
country is considered as the “Celtic Tiger".
70% of all foreign investments come from the
U.S., including many high-tech companies and financial service
providers engaged in a strongly anti-union strategy. However trade
union membership is about 35%, higher than in the United Kingdom (28%).
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions ICTU include 81 individual trade
unions, which are also found in Northern Ireland. The other way around
British trade unions as Unite which arose in May 2007 from the merger
of Amicus and T & G also recruit members in the Republic of
Ireland. Collective bargaining has been continuously encouraged by the
Irish State unlike in the UK in Thatcher years. The two sides are
working with the government in tripartite bodies such as the Labour
Relations Committee, which can intervene in labour disputes.
Local works councils introduced
by EU legislation in 2006
Irish employers oppose the introduction of works councils, which they
believe to be a relic from the 60s and 70s. The current pace of
industrial change would require a direct communication with employees,
and not via the detour of a works council. To meet the requirements of
an EU Directive from 2002 which prescribes mandatory in companies from
50 employees information and consultation of the workforce in social
and economic issues, the Irish government had to act, however, and to
disregard these comments. The Employees (Provision of
Information and Consultation) Act 2006 introduced works
councils for the first time. At the election, however, only union
members may participate whose organisation represents at least 10% of
the workforce. An election by the entire workforce will take place only
when there is no union with a 10% membership.
European works councils in
According to calculations by the
European Trade Union Institute only six of 50 companies from the
Republic of Ireland had founded an EWC in 2006, including in 1996 the
packing group Smurfit and the national airline Aer Lingus. Even Guiness
was one of the EWC pioneers, although the Irish traditional brewery
(see photo) was bought in 1997 by the worlds' largest spirits
manufacturer Diageo from London. Delegates from Ireland are now
represented in every third EWC (in 298 of 816).
Ryanair in a legal dispute over
there is no tradition of works councils in Ireland as in many other
Anglo-Saxon countries, trade union shop stewards play a crucial role in
the companies. However they must first be recognized by the employer in
a collective agreement ("recognition agreement") as a negotiating
partner. Despite the high membership rate in Ireland there are
companies that deny this including the airline, Ryanair. Since 1998
there were always legal disputes.
2004 law gave the unions the right to represent
their members also in companies without employee representation, so
called "non union companies" such as Ryanair. Nevertheless, the
management blocked with regard to the “Employee
Representation Committee" (ERC), a replacement employee representation
without union connections, founded by Ryanair. On 1st February 2007 the
Supreme Court ruled on the collective bargaining competence of the ERC.
Indeed the dispute was referred back to the Labour Court due to lack of
evidence (from Ryanair staff no one was willing to testify), but the
court made it clear that Irish workforce is entitled to an appropriate
collective representation. Only in 2006, Ryanair was ordered to pay a
fine of 1 million €, because senior managers had made false
statements in court.
step for Vodafone UK
recognition of a union plays a central role
also in the British system. On 11th October 2007 a landmark agreement
was concluded for the regional offices of the mobile phone company
Vodafone. For the first time ever in company history, management agreed
to recognize a union (in this case, the communication workers' union
Connect) and to install an employee representation. The new agreement
applies only to approximately 500 of the total 11,600 British
employees. The remaining staff must continue to work without collective
The move was not voluntary.
Only after intervention
of the independent Central Arbitration Committee, management was
willing to sign the agreement. In a similar case a London industrial
tribunal ordered the newspaper publisher Macmillan in July 2007 to pay
a fine (see report
in EWC News 2/2007).
"Union busters" in the food industry
situation is more difficult at the food manufacturer Kettle Chips. In
September 2007 the management hired "union busters" from the USA (they
call themselves more kindly as "Labour relation consultants") to stop
the legal procedure for the establishment of worker representation. The
340 employees at the Norwich plant should be discouraged from joining
the trade union Unite. The conflict arose in the payment of overtime
and led to a media campaign and a consumer boycott against the company.
the end the consultants from Malibu (California)
could nevertheless achieve a success. Much of the workforce - about 40%
are immigrants from Eastern Europe - were so intimidated that they
voted in a ballot against the union. The British Trades Unions Congress
(TUC) has now announced to train trade union officers specifically to
hunt the hunters in the future ("to bust the busters"). The ruling
Labour Party sees in the behaviour of the plant management a breach of
UK employment law. A breach of EU standards should also be given.
Previous country focuses in EWC News:
(mostly in German)
9. EWC and authoritarian
and EWC - a contradictory relationship?
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.
We present today the third part of our series.
The marginal EWC in the authoritarian
distance and formal routines characterize
the relationship between central management and EWC in the type 3. Most
of these are groups based in southern European countries where there is
hardly a participation of the employees' side. In authoritarian
corporate cultures, the management behaves towards the EWC strictly
legalistic. The oral presentations of the top managers are limited to
the minimum requirements of the EWC agreement, questions of the
employee representatives often remain unanswered. Central management
argues with the lack of formal rights of the EWC, however the CEO
reveals more information than the other managers, who are committed by
him on a restrictive policy.
The legalism has two consequences: firstly there
are no arbitrary actions of individual managers such as in type 2,
which differ from the formal minimum standards of the EWC agreement. On
the other hand, central management does not grant informal
participation opportunities to the EWC as they are characteristic of
type 1. If individual delegates formulate positions to the group's
strategy, these are indeed taken note of by the management, but not
commented in detail. Policy units design e.g. codes of conduct which
are put into effect by the employer without including the EWC prior to
that. Therefore the employees' side also is not involved in the
The conditions for cooperation are extremely
unfavourable for the type 3. In particular, for Italian or French top
managers there is no doubt that they can control the group by virtue of
their authority. Such leadership, however, provokes labour conflicts,
which are seen by workers' representatives of Mediterranean countries
as legitimate form of argument. Since the European works council seems
not suitable as a platform for spontaneous, militant actions, the
delegates from southern European countries in type 3 are more
interested in action at the national level than at the EWC.
The other types are:
culture in the security and cleaning services
7th to 9th October 2007 some 70 trade union representatives from 16
European countries came together in La Roche-en-Ardenne (Belgium) to
discuss EWC work in the security and cleaning services. The focus was
on the companies Falck, Group 4 Securicor, ISS, Rentokil Initial and
Securitas, which have already set up an EWC.
federation of trade unions in the services sector (UNI Europe)
evaluated the presented cases as “largely disappointing". For
example certain employers prefer in-house trade unions, which have no
democratic legitimacy, management representatives are also often sent
to the EWC. Especially in the new EU countries, the situation is
a democratic election process
are problems in the nomination of delegates for the EWC not only in the
security and cleaning services. Here are two examples of how they arise
also in other industries:
from the UK are appointed from a "Forum", which was established by the
employer as a substitute for a full-fledged employee representation or
to avoid recognizing trade unions. Should the works council members
from Continental Europe accept this?
can be done if there is no working employee representation in Central
and Eastern European countries and many member seats are left vacant?
put the work of the European works council on a legally sound footing,
the greatest attention must be paid to the election of representatives.
This not only applies to the recurrent elections, but also begins before the EWC establishment.
All SNB members must be given their mandate on a democratic basis. The
rules for choosing delegates for all 27 EU countries is now
shown clearly in the "Company Policy Newsletter" of the European
Metalworkers’ Federation (EMF). Included are also the new
provisions for Romania and Bulgaria.
Interesting web pages
European tourism portal
On 24th and 25th October 2007
the new Internet portal of the trade unions in the tourism sector was
presented to the public at a conference in Portimão
(Portugal). The website provides specific information for workers'
representatives in travel and tourism companies and has its own area
for European works councils. The content will be added in the coming
months and is available in English, French and German.
In many multinational companies
established networks to exchange information between workers'
representatives around the world, a precursor to the world works
council. There has been such a network since 1999 for the U.S. tire
manufacturer Goodyear, organized by the International Federation of
Chemical Workers' Unions (ICEM). News and comments are provided in
different languages on a specially established Blog on the Internet.
Once or twice a year the network sends a newsletter titled "Global
Solidarity" in English, French, Spanish and German.
New website for the European
For 50 years the European
Social Fund (ESF) not only helped structurally weak regions at the
creation of new jobs but also job seekers in the further education and
training. The European Commission has now set up a website in 23
languages. Clicking on the map it can be determined to which countries
funds go and which projects are sponsored.
The DGB country district of
a website on European policy issues since October 2005, which includes
information related to an EU project that aims to bring together the
economic region west and east of the river Oder. Together with Polish
trade unions, for example, issues of labour market and social policy
are discussed. The following documents are only available in German:
have compiled many other interesting links in a collection
guide for European works councils
The Trade Union Advisory
Committee (TUAC) to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) in Paris has presented a guide to conducting
seminars, under the title “European works councils and the
OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises". These guidelines are a
component of global social responsibility of companies and often taken
for concluding international framework agreements. The brochure
provides basic knowledge of European works councils, international
trade union structures and rules for multinational companies. Also
included are charts that can be used for lectures. The guide is
available in English, French, German and Czech.
Knowledge to Private Equity
The International Union of Food
Workers' Associations (IUF) in Geneva issued a brochure on financial
investors in May 2007. It explains what private equity is, how it works
and what dangers it entails for workers. It identifies possible
strategies for negotiating with private equity funds and presents a
series of case studies. The appendix provides a listing of the 50
largest private equity firms. The brochure is available in English,
French, German, Swedish and Spanish.
Cross-border participation in the SE
Since February 2007 the third revised edition
of a guide of Hans-Böckler-Foundation for the European company
(SE) is available. It includes an overview of the methods of
foundation, the involvement of employees and the conduct of
negotiations on an agreement to participation. The full text of the
Allianz SE agreement is printed. New in this brochure are now comments
on the merger Directive, that was implemented in German law in December
2006. It regulates the cross-border mergers of companies. The brochure
is only available in German.
Paperback on labour
law with an international perspective
This basic book of Prof. Däubler is
now available in the 16th edition. Compared with previous editions it
was enlarged at a point: the view beyond the boundaries of national
events is not treated as a separate chapter, but is integrated into all
subjects. Thus the author has finally abandoned the illusion that the
globalization leaves the labour law untouched. The cost pressure
stemming from low cost companies, the codes of conduct of American
corporations, that 'penetrate' German subsidiaries, the threat of
relocation – all are challenges, that can one not avoid.
Including for European works councils the "guide for employees" is a
recommended reference book. It is only available in German.
Das Arbeitsrecht 1
Reinbek 2006, 16. Auflage, 864 pages, ISBN
978-3-499-61966-3, € 16,90
12. Training and consultancy
further examples of
on EWC formation
in a Chinese company
Hong Kong based automotive supplier Johnson Electric will establish a
European works council. Employee representatives from six countries
came together in Bremen from 16th to 19th September 2007 to discuss the
next steps to establish a special negotiating body (SNB). The event was
co-organized by the training and consultancy network
"euro-workscouncil.net". European central management in Switzerland
will support the EWC foundation constructively. Since 1992 the company
is represented in Germany and since 2003 in Italy, since then numerous
factories in Western and Eastern Europe were purchased. Johnson
Electric may be the first Chinese company with an EWC.
Ports World: EWC study
a bidding war the state port company from Dubai (DP World) took over in
March 2006 the traditional British company P&O (Peninsular and
Oriental Steam Navigation) with its 29 container terminals. Thus, DP
World has become the third largest port company in the world. In
Europe, the company operates major terminals in the UK, Belgium
(Antwerp), Romania (Constanta) and Germany (Germersheim).
founded a European works council already in 2000, which is continued
since May 2007 under the roof of DP World on an improved basis. It can
now meet twice a year. With the support of the European Transport
Workers' Federation (ETF), the "euro-workscouncil.net" training and
consultancy network will provide a case study for the negotiations of
the new EWC agreement. First results will be presented at a conference
end of November 2007 in Livorno (Italy).
World had tried in 2006 to take over the Hamburg port company HHLA and
was failed just as the German railway company Deutsche Bahn. In protest
against the privatization plans several times the work in Hamburg
harbour rested. Both DP World and the Hamburg HHLA be partially
privatized on the stock exchange in November 2007.
Restructuring and financial investors
Staff members of the training
and consultancy network "euro-workscouncil.net" currently study
restructuring at Smurfit Kappa. The group based in
Ireland resulted from a merger of two packing companies in spring 2006.
The spin-off of the forklift truck manufacturer Kion
from the Linde group and the sale to a U.S. financial investor is also
investigated. The works council of Kion was involved in the selection
of the new owner. The case studies are part of an EU-funded project of
the research institute Cesos in Rome (see report in
EWC News 2/2007).
skills: Coaching for EWC members
An extension of the strategic
capacity of European works councils in the light of different
traditions and cultures of industrial relations is the goal of a new
coaching offer, which was developed by the training and consultancy
network "euro-workscouncil.net" together with EWR Consulting in
Frankfurt am Main, and now introduced to the public. Rudolf Reitter,
the initiator of the concept, worked as an academic assistant at the
European works council of the automotive supplier ZF Friedrichshafen
for serveral years prior to his consulting activities and knows the
problems in practice: “The early influence on site
competition requires a consistent negotiating strategy, supported by
business know-how". Three interrelated components will prepare the EWC
members for this challenge.
German market leader expands
the range of seminars for European works councils
institute for the further education of works councils (ifb) organizes
annually around 2,100 seminars for over 26,000 participants to 270
different themes. Since 1998, this also includes seminars for European
works councils designed by staff of the training and consultancy
network "euro-workscouncil.net". Due to growing demand, the two-part
seminar series was extended to three levels in 2008. In addition to a
basic seminar “The road to the European works
council” there is an advanced seminar “Structuring
legally binding EWC agreements - work effectively in the EWC" and an
in-depth and refresher course for professionals. The seminars are held
in German only.
unions in Germany and France
Dokumente, a magazine for the
Franco-German dialogue, released a special issue on trade unions in
August 2007. It contains several articles on labour disputes,
membership development and transnational cooperation. Horst Mund and
Kai Burmeister of IG Metall head office write on trade unions facing
the challenge of Europe, the cooperation of European works councils is
portrayed by Werner Altmeyer of the training and consultancy network
"euro-workscouncil.net". At the same time the French sister magazine
Documents also took up this issue, numerous articles have been
published, therefore, in both languages.
In July 2007 an article on
French works council advisors in comparison to German trade union
officers was published in the magazine Mitbestimmung
and, in September 2007, a survey of current EWC court decisions in
France was presented in the magazine Arbeitsrecht im Betrieb.
All texts are in German:
available on our publications
newsletter: new issue
On 22nd October 2007, the
fourth edition of the
German-Austrian EWC newsletter of ver.di and GPA appeared, produced by
the training and consultancy network "euro-workscouncil.net". It
contains an interview with the head of the participation department of
the ver.di federal office, Martin Lemcke, on the new Fresenius
participation agreement, reports on the establishment of European works
councils, including an interview with the newly elected EWC chairman of
the Austrian energy company EVN, Paul Hofer, furthermore a presentation
of the international activities of the ver.di department for financial
services, background information about France and about recent court
rulings as well as information on events and Internet resources. The
newsletter is published only in German.