highly explosive legal battle
For the first time old
Current developments at
Hewlett-Packard bring to light the legal status of more than 400
European work councils which were created before 22nd September 1996.
On 24th July 2012 the EWC of the US IT-group gave notice to terminate
their old agreement which was concluded in May 1996 under Belgian
jurisdiction. 95% of the representatives voted in favor. At the same
time they decided to take legal action against central management
before Brussels’ labour court for failing to carry out a
According to article 14 of the
new EWC Directive (article 13 of the old), agreements signed before
1996 or modified between June 2009 and June 2011 are excluded from EWC
legislation. This was a concession given to employers during the
legislative process and strengthens so-called “voluntary”
EWC agreements, which were
often concluded even below the standards of the old legislation. By
providing the “threat” of having no works council
for a period of up to three years, the new EWC Directive makes the
termination of such agreements more difficult. As the first in Europe,
the EWC of Hewlett-Packard could not be deterred anymore from this.
Triggered by substantial
cutbacks in the workforce
On 23rd May 2012, the US
management announced 27,000 layoffs out of its 325,000 world-wide
workforce. 8,000 jobs are to be lost in Europe alone, despite good
earnings and no overstaffing. As a consequence an extraordinary meeting
of the European works council was held in Amsterdam from 12th to 14th
June 2012, where central management however gave no exact figures. This
resembles, at that time, the situation of the IT-group, Alcatel Lucent
in EWC News 1/2007). Their EWC won a court ruling in
Paris in April 2007 which still remains today a benchmark for the
business reporting obligations of central management to the EWC
in EWC News 2/2007).
With a view to starting a
well-substantiated consultation procedure, the Hewlett-Packard EWC
requested the assistance of experts. Central management however refused
and regards the EWC, as in 2008, as a sort of
“rubber-stamping assembly” (see report in
EWC News 4/2008). It took legal action, when actual
figures had been released in France and the
Netherlands and layoffs actually begun in Spain without waiting for any
opinion of the EWC. The case is comparable to that of Visteon, the US
automobile supplier, who wanted to close a plant in Spain without
consulting the EWC and was likewise taken to court (see report in
EWC News 3/2011). The cases do however differ in the
applicability of the new EWC Directive, which applies in the case of
Visteon and not for HP.
Now new negotiations on EWC
formal termination of the
Hewlett-Packard EWC agreement was inevitable for exactly this reason.
Changes to the old agreement are now being negotiated for 18 months. If
this fails, the EWC is dissolved at the end of 2013 and a special
negotiating body (SNB) will be established to negotiate a full EWC
agreement on the basis of the new legislation within three years. It
remains to be seen whether central management will accept to continue
under Belgian jurisdiction or prefer rather to dodge to the weaker
British legislation. Currently two German labour courts are dealing
with exactly the same issue (see report in
EWC News 2/2012).
The opinion of EWC chairman,
I believe that the error in
thinking of many German works council members stems from the fact that
they have not sufficiently familiarized themselves with the French
model, upon which the European works council is based. The rights for
information and consultation are so strong that they actually force the
employer to the negotiating table. On top of this at HP: the American
Securities and Exchange Commission likes to see the official opinion of
the EWC, before any actions are implemented. Our position can therefore
be strengthened by only rendering an opinion once all the necessary
information has really been put on the table.
Upcoming event on the subject
The current situation at
Hewlett-Packard will be a subject on the agenda of the annual
conference for European and SE works councils on 28th January 2013 in
Hamburg. The EWC chairman, Udo Verzagt will report on the legal case
and the negotiations.
Practical tip: How do EWC members inform the workforce?
responsibility of the whole council
the old legislation,
European works council members were only accountable for their work and
for reporting back on any consultations to their country of origin, to
their electorate or to their delegating trade union.
June 2011, and providing
they are covered by the new legislation, European works councils have
accountability to all countries for which the EWC is responsible.
According to article 10 of the new EWC Directive “the members
of the European works council shall have the means required, to
represent collectively the interests of the employees” and
shall inform them “of the content and outcome of the
information and consultation procedure”. This also applies to
countries or sites, which are not represented in the EWC or which do
not have any employee representation. In such cases the EWC not only
has the right, but the obligation to inform the workforce directly.
or group works councils do not exist in every country
communication runs smoothly in countries where the works councils of
different sites are interconnected or in countries with only one site.
How to manage however,
in Spain, there is no
cross-location employee representation structure?
a British representative can
only report on his own site and has no information about the situation
of other British employees?
an Italian representative
only informs his own trade union colleagues excluding the other trade
unions represented in the workforce?
a Polish representative
has no employee representation in the country?
Networking is crucial
new EWC Directive is clear:
in all of these cases the European works council has the collective
responsibility to fully inform all parts of the European workforce
without exception. In practice however numerous questions emerge
possibly involving substantial costs for the employer.
a representative from the
Czech Republic organize a meeting to discuss with all of the employee
representatives in the country at the expense of the employer?
a Belgian representative
travel during his working hours to visit employees at other sites in
the country at the expense of the employer?
the select committee assign
one of its members to directly deal with the countries having no seat
on the EWC or those having no employee representation and to personally
the EWC organize a general assembly of
employees in Hungary to inform them locally about the results of
information and consultation? This question is of course of particular
importance when the subsidiary in Hungary is about to be closed.
new Directive offers numerous opportunities for further initiatives
answers to these questions
have a great significance for the reinforcement of transnational
co-operation. With a more thorough application of the new legal
situation it can also make sense for the employer to create work
councils or national works councils where they do not already exist.
Why should the EWC be blown up to a “mega works
council”, when much more appropriate structures can be
Some practical examples
in 2005, the EWC
agreement of Veolia Environnement, the French conglomerate, made
provisions for the establishment of national social dialogue committees
in all those countries having no central works council (see report in
EWC News 1/2011). The SE agreement for the German
Freudenberg group, from March 2012, not only includes the right of
access to all sites but also provides for preliminary meetings between
different sites and/or divisions within a country with a view to making
the appropriate connection with the SE works council (see report in
EWC News 2/2012).
the collective responsibility does not apply automatically!
agreements, which were
concluded for the first time before September 1996, or those modified
between June 2009 and June 2011 are excluded from the new legal
situation. Renegotiation of the EWC agreement is absolutely necessary
if it does not include sufficient provisions for this.
3. Exemplary company agreements
Quality of life at
work is to be improved
the nuclear power-plant supplier, signed an agreement with French trade
unions, on 31st May 2012, for measures to improve the quality of life.
It concerns not only the reduction of stress, but also work-life
balance, teleworking and part-time working models including parental
leave. An action plan is to be drawn up in every site with more than 50
employees. The role of health and safety committees is also to be
strengthened. A monitoring body will supervise the agreement and submit
an annual report.
the first place the agreement will apply only to France. In some cases
such agreements are extended to the European level after an initial
test phase. An anti-discrimination agreement in Areva has already been
in place since November 2006 and a personnel planning agreement since
April 2011 (see report in
EWC News 1/2011), both on a European level.
“in stile tedesco” (German style)
agreement on extended employee participation rights was signed on 4th
July 2012 in Sant'Agata Bolognese (Emilia Romagna region) for the 980
workers of Lamborghini. The Italian sportscar manufacturer belongs to
Volkswagen group and was transposing a framework agreement, which was
concluded in October 2009 between the central management and the
company’s World works council (see report in
EWC News 4/2009).
Italian employee representatives had previously been trained in 2011
for their expanded role with support of German works council members.
The agreement provides for the establishment of bilateral working
groups on topics such as organization of work, classification, health
and safety as well as profit-sharing. The members of these working
groups have the right to training and to experts. In the context of the
traditionally conflict-oriented labour relations in Italy, the
agreement can be considered as a milestone, since the employee
representatives of the Lamborghini factory have a substantially
stronger role. Volkswagen’s management is of the opinion that
successful management of change and lasting competitiveness can only be
achieved with well trained employee representatives. In Italy,
Lamborghini therefore represents a counter-model to Fiat, where the
industrial collective agreements are currently being undermined in a
conflict with trade unions.
planning in French bank
social charter for BNP Paribas was signed, on 11th July 2012 in Paris,
with contents substantially surpassing those commonly present in such
agreements. It took 18 months to negotiate with the participation of
the European works council. The social charter defines a framework for
the organization of restructuring and the involvement of local works
councils in all countries falling under the scope of the EWC. Employee
appraisals are to be subject to European-wide minimum standards and
workforce planning to be made transparent. Compliance to the agreement,
in particular progress in individual countries, will be overseen once
annually by the EWC in a meeting of its select committee.
4. Current reports on wages
wages in Europe continue to sink
Hans Boeckler Foundation published the latest issue of its annual
European wage report, in June 2012. According to this, price-adjusted
earnings in the European Union in 2011 have sunk by around 0.9%. Minus
0.5% is expected for 2012, whereby the crisis countries such as Greece
with 7.5% and Portugal with 6.1% are particularly strongly hit. The
development is particularly positive in Bulgaria, where wage levels are
still, however, very low. The largest increases in Western Europe are
in Sweden and Austria, and Germany registers only a slight increase of
0.3% (click on table to zoom).
Further job cutbacks in banking
3rd September 2012, UNI, the global union federation for skills and
services published an analysis of a survey on employment in the finance
industry. Although nearly all major banks are again making profits,
they happily continue to downsize. Belgium is currently particularly
strongly concerned by relocations to North Africa and the Middle East.
In Scandinavia, the financial market crisis has had a less violent
effect on banking employees since it has apparently been cushioned by
strong trade unions and wage policies. The study also reveals where
working conditions have suffered the most: in France, Germany, Spain
and in the UK.
Employment prospects in the
effects will the reduction of greenhouse gases have on the situation of
employees in the energy industry? How do credit ratings or the arrival
of financial investors, including those from e.g. China, affect the
development of the industry? Can the spin-off of distribution networks
from the core energy production business and the emergence of
international distribution network operators represent a danger for
employee rights? These questions are explored in a study carried out by
Greenwich University on behalf of the European Federation of Public
Services Unions (EPSU). It was published on 7th September 2012 and
focuses on companies having a European work council.
5. European Commission
agreements are to be legally secured
10th September 2012 the European Commission in Brussels released a
questionnaire to poll the opinion of social partners and interested
members of the public on a planned legislative initiative to regulate
transnational company agreements. The answers to nine questions can be
submitted until the end of 2012. The questionnaire was prepared by a
group of experts created in 2009.
company agreements exist since the year 2000, in a growing number of
companies. They go beyond the limited scope of information and
consultation within the EWC Directive by establishing binding
regulations, for example on social minimum standards or the
anticipation of change. At the beginning of 2012, 224 such agreements
were registered in 144 companies and covering more than 10 million
employees. Frequently the European works council is the initiator or is
at least involved in the negotiation and the subsequent monitoring. Up
to now, however, this new form of agreement is not legally water-tight.
Are the agreements legally enforceable in all EU countries, including
the UK? Who should be the contracting party: the European works council
(= German model) or the trade unions (= French model) or both?
in EWC News 3/2010). So far, the employers'
confederations have categorically rejected any legal regulation on this
in 2006, a group of
experts conducted an evaluation on the subject on behalf of the
European Commission, and in
2008 the European Commission released its first paper on the topic
together with an evaluation of the contents of agreements. There has
been an on-line database of transnational company agreements since
Social Democrats in
the European Parliament push for a more comprehensive initiative
consultation could get an additional boost if the European Parliament
passes a resolution which was requested on 8th June 2012 by the
social-democratic parliamentary group in the Committee for Employment
and Social Affairs. It goes far beyond the European
working document and contains 16 concrete recommendations for employee
rights in restructuring. It would hereby provide European wide minimum
standards for anticipating workforce planning, social plans and for
Should the request obtain a
the Parliament, the European Commission would be forced to submit a
draft Directive within three months or otherwise justify in detail the
reasons for their inaction. However it is not at all certain
a majority will be reached during the vote which is planned for
November 2012 during a plenary session of the European Parliament.
changes to the right to strike for the moment
11th September 2012 the European Commission withdrew its draft bill for
the monitoring of labour disputes which it had first submitted in March
2012. It had come under substantial criticism from trade unions.
Numerous parliaments from European Union countries had furthermore
lodged official complaints to Brussels, since the bill would have
unreasonably intervened in national affairs (see report in EWC
adopt new EWC legislation
nine months late
results are to be seen following the warning from the European
Commission, in November 2011, notifying three countries which had not
yet transposed the new EWC Directive (see report in
EWC News 4/2011). On 1st March 2012 the updated
Greek EWC legislation was published in the official state
followed several consultation rounds between the government and social
partners. In the opinion of Greek trade unions the fourth version of
the draft bill contained substantial improvements and was finally
adopted as legislation. Although many companies have subsidiaries in
Greece, only one company has established a EWC under Greek legislation:
the Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling company. This listed company bottles
beverages for the Coca Cola group and other companies and distributes
them to Italy, Austria and Eastern Europe.
Italy 14 months late
the Italian legislator needed up to eight years to transpose (in 2002)
the 1994 EWC Directive and hereby set a European record, it was now
able to conclude, under pressure from the European Commission, 14
months late. The task which the Berlusconi government had
half-heartedly put off for more than two years was settled in a limited
time frame by the new Monti government. The revised EWC legislation
came into force on 11th August 2012. It is based on a joint declaration
between trade unions and employers' federations from April 2011.
on the home stretch
this stage, the Grand Duchy is the only European Union country that has
not yet transposed the new EWC Directive. Although the draft bill has
been before Parliament for consultation since November 2011, there are
still some controversial issues such as the right to training for EWC
members. Changes were made to the draft during the last meeting of the
Employment and Labour Committee before the summer break on 6th July
2012. The final adoption of the legislation is imminent.
Updated EWC agreements
insurance acts faster than the Italian government
EWC agreement of Generali was modified on 4th May 2012 at company
headquarters in Trieste to conform to the new EWC Directive standards.
The insurance group which includes Volksfürsorge, has had a
since 1997 under Italian jurisdiction. Since there was no question
of a “voluntary” EWC agreement dating from the
period, the basis for the agreement was implicitly the new Directive.
The signing took place before the new delayed Italian EWC legislation
came into force on 11th August 2012.
EWC has been expanded from 37 to 43 members, with seven seats for Italy
and six for Germany. It meets twice per year, whereby the second
meeting is devoted to training without central management. Day-to-day
operations are carried out by a steering committee. The EWC can also
create its own working groups. If more than the half of the workforce
in a country is affected by exceptional circumstances, the steering
committee can request a meeting. This possibility concerning only one
country goes beyond the minimum provisions of the new Directive and is
based on provisions for social dialogue which were part of a
European-wide social charter already concluded in November 2006
in EWC News 1/2007).
Deutsche Post with extended consultation procedure
EWC agreement of Deutsche Post DHL (German post office) was updated on
24th May 2012 during a meeting in Berlin (photo). The EWC, created in
2003, is one of the few “mixed” councils in
from the 50 employee representatives from 30 of the European common
market countries, 25 management representatives are also members. The
assembly meets twice annually. The steering committee has similarly two
chairmen: one employer and one employee representative.
agreement not only integrates the new standards for information and
consultation, but also describes in detail the flow of the consultation
procedure. This is finalized only if central management has given a
substantiated reply to the opinion. The quantity and quality of
business reporting have been defined in detail. In addition
extended training rights which typically come with a EWC under German
jurisdiction. The EWC agreement gives the right to all employees in
Europe to establish employee representations and EWC members a right of
access to all sites.
EWC standards now also for India
updated EWC agreement for the telecommunications company, Colt, was
signed on 14th June 2012 in Munich. The EWC, created in 2004, is one of
five under Luxembourg jurisdiction (together with RTL, ArcelorMittal,
Transcom and Monier). Colt does business in fiber-optic networks
and data centers for business customers and was founded 1992 in London
by the US financial investor Fidelity. So it is not surprising that the
EWC agreement bears a clear Anglo-Saxon hallmark.
defined confidentiality rules are typical. The agreement even
explicitly prohibits EWC members from holding press conferences. Any
offending members may lose their mandate. Furthermore the exclusion of
any renegotiation of the EWC agreement, following changes in structure
of the company, according to article 13 of the new European Union
Directive, is rarely seen in any continental-European texts
in EWC News 4/2011).
the other hand the scope of the agreement can be considered a positive
point. Within the European and Middle-East region Colt has most
employees in India, followed by the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany.
India therefore has a voting member in the EWC. In the past, one
ordinary plenary meeting of the EWC has already been held on the
subcontinent. In Europe, 13 European Union countries and Switzerland
are represented. The three member steering committee, with currently a
German chairman, meets quarterly. Plenary sessions are held twice
annually and last for three days. For conflict resolution there is a
provision for an internal suspensive conciliation procedure. To a large
extent the text adopts the definition of information and consultation
from the new European Union Directive and in the future the EWC members
have furthermore improved working conditions for their mandate.
We have put
together a selection of EWC agreements
on a Website
8. New European works councils
establishes its own EWC
new EWC was established for Hapag Lloyd, the container shipping
company, on 9th May 2012 at the company headquarters in Hamburg. The
establishment of the EWC had become necessary as a consequence of its
mother company, TUI, selling a majority share of its container division
in 2008. Hapag Lloyd has 6,900 employees world-wide.
EWC agreement was signed in October 2011. It provides for one annual
plenary meeting and four meetings of the steering committee, which is
made up of two German works council members and one representative each
from Italy, Denmark and the Netherlands. Based on the new German EWC
legislation the right to training was fixed at six days per term of
office, which the EWC members can also use, to participate individually
in external events.
company with clear
three years of negotiation a EWC agreement was signed for Abertis on
23rd July 2012 in Barcelona. Apart from motorways, multi-storey car
parks and airports (including Luton in England) the company also does
business in telecommunication equipment as well as logistics. The
agreement is a benchmark for Spanish standards. It not only defines
clearly transnational responsibilities, but also describes the exact
flow of the consultation procedure including involvement of the
one of the weak points is the limited possibility for the select
committee to meet together. The five members can only meet once per
year immediately prior to plenary sessions, they are otherwise
relegated to video conferencing. The EWC can establish its own working
groups on topics such as health and safety. However these must not
generate any costs and can only co-operate electronically. The EWC has
a right of access to all sites throughout Europe and a right to
training. Spain has eleven representatives in the EWC, France four,
Sweden and the United Kingdom one each. Following texts are available
only in Spanish:
Acid test for EWC rights in the
the British airline with headquarters in Luton has had a European works
council in place since end 2011 based on the subsidiary requirements of
the new British EWC legislation. The negotiations for a EWC agreement
to cover the 6,000 employees in seven EU-countries, which had begun in
summer 2008, could not be concluded successfully. Under the old
legislation the failure of such negotiations would have been a
disadvantage for employees, whereas under the new it is exactly the
opposite. The example of Europe’s second largest low-cost
after Ryanair shows how important the new EWC Directive is for
strengthening the employee position. In the meantime, Anglo-Saxon
oriented management consultants strongly advise against the
establishment of a EWC, “à la easyJet”,
conclusion of an adequate EWC agreement.
in June 2008, the trade union Unite had complained about irregularities
in the election of SNB members in the United Kingdom, which led to a
first ruling of the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC). Unite took
central management of easyJet to court on 12th January 2012 over
training rights for EWC members and their funding. In the meantime the
case has been withdrawn, since, up to now there are no legally defined
standards which could also be applicable for other companies in the
United Kingdom. It remains legally uncertain whether EWC members can
freely select themselves their supplier for training in opposition to
the opinion of the employer and nevertheless the costs be borne by the
employer (see report in
EWC News 2/2012).
the meantime easyJet central management has yielded to the pressure of
the EWC and carried out a French style consultation procedure for the
planned closure of its installation in Madrid. EWC members were able to
receive detailed advice from business experts. Central management even
accepted not to begin negotiations with Spanish trade unions until the
EWC opinion was rendered.
9. The view beyond Europe
|Saab agrees on world-wide minimum
the Swedish arms and aircraft manufacturer, signed an international
framework agreement with the trade unions in Stockholm on 13th June
2012, guaranteeing not only the respect of core-working standards for
its 13,000 world-wide employees but also the recognition of employee
representation. Suppliers are also included in its scope and in a
supplementary protocol it excludes the promotion of
“yellow” company unions by the employer. These are
to the guarantees given by Electrolux, the Swedish electrical group in
December 2010 (see report in
EWC News 1/2011).
long discussions, an international framework agreement for Siemens was
signed on 25th July 2012 in Frankfurt-on-Main. It is based on the
principles of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and
emphasizes constructive co-operation with employee representatives
throughout the world. This includes the freedom to establish employee
representation bodies. Compliance to the agreement is controlled once
annually by a delegation from IG-Metall and the German central works
council. This includes meetings organized on a rota-basis with local
employee representatives in different parts of the world. The
particularity of this agreement is the fact that the European works
council was not involved.
agreement was already getting its first practical test at the beginning
of September 2012: local management at a US-based site had assigned
special advisors to prevent the establishment of an employee
representation. The activity is also called “union
busting”. IG-Metall protested to central management in Munich
violation of the international framework agreement. Similar incidents
are also reported time and time again from other companies (see report in
EWC News 3/2010).
building group commits to
international framework agreement was signed on 19th September 2012 in
Madrid between Obrascon Huarte Lain (OHL), and the Building and Wood
Worker's International (BWI). The agreement guarantees a social
partnership and collective bargaining for its 23,000 world-wide
employees. Central management and Spanish trade unions will review
compliance to the agreement once annually. The agreement provides
conciliation rules for any violations: firstly the problems are
discussed with local management, and subsequently within the monitoring
group at the company headquarters in Madrid (photo).
Meta translation service
– financed by the EU
multiplicity of languages is a great challenge for the European
integration. Apart from the 23 official languages in the EU, there are
also numerous minority languages e.g. Catalan. The European
institutions in Brussels are major employers for translators and
interpreters. Over the last few years and with financial support from
the EU an on-line translation service has been developed, which can not
only be used free of charge, but which differs qualitatively from other
services such as Google or Babylon: it queries several programs
simultaneously and presents the different results alongside each
another. Entire web sites can even be translated. The translation
service is coordinated by a research institute in Budapest.
Labour Law Network
European Labour Law Network has been acting since 2008 as official
counsel to the European Commission for questions concerning labour
legislation. The network, which is composed of scientists from all
EU-countries, runs its own website. This contains up-to-date
information on the developments in European and national labour law.
The network is administered by the Universities of Frankfurt-on-Main
and Leiden in the Netherlands.
Lobbyism in Brussels
Cologne based association, Lobby Control, has the goal of promoting
awareness on power structures and on the hidden influence of
business on both German and EU policy making. It runs Lobbypedia, which
is an on-line encyclopedia including critical reports on lobbyism and
where individual cases are documented. A new edition of Lobby Planet
Brussels, a city plan of the EU-quarter with the lobby hotspots was
released in September 2012. The website is available only in German.
International solidarity in the
textile supply chain
working conditions of female production workers in the textile industry
in Southeast-Asian countries are becoming more and more visible through
the exCHAINS project supported by the ver.di trade union. Background
information on the individual countries can also be consulted on the
have arranged numerous other
interesting web-pages into a collection
Business Etiquette - not only for managers
new edition of Business Knigge International (International Business
Etiquette) was published In spring 2012, covering individually the most
important EU-countries. Works councils members can learn in this book,
why you have to plan more time in France, why, in England, small talk
outside the meeting is nearly everything, how important empathy is, as
a basis for any discussion with Italians, that the most important
things are settled around the dinner table in Spain and why it's better
never to interrupt a speaker from Finland. Body language and cultural
pitfalls are presented in detail. There is a new chapter on appropriate
etiquette in electronic communication. The book is only available in
Upcoming event: Intercultural
communication for works council members
works council members will be trained from 27th to 29th May 2013 by a
specialist on intercultural communication. The seminar will take place
in Hamburg on board the Rickmer Rickmers, a museum ship on the Elbe.
Labour relations in South-East
In spring 2012, the regional
project of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Belgrade,
“Labour Relations and Social
Dialogue in South-East Europe
a national yearly review of eleven countries from the Adriatic to the
Black sea. This includes the EU-countries Slovenia, Romania and
Bulgaria as well as the acceding country Croatia, which will join the
EU as of 1st July 2013 (see report in
EWC News 2/2010).
The yearly updates for each country have already existed for some time.
The country reports are supplemented by some articles on topics
focusing on South-East Europe.
Upcoming events: Seminars in
German-Romanian conference for works council members will be held from
20th to 22nd March 2013 in Bucharest and from 3rd to 5th July 2013, EWC
members can get on-the-spot information in Croatia about the new EU
country’s labour legislation.
review of labour inspectors
June 2012, the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), in
Brussels published a review on the role and responsibilites of labour
inspectors in 15 countries. Government authorities of this kind in
Germany, Denmark and the United Kingdom have the least power, since
they are only responsible for health and safety questions in the
workplace. In most EU-countries, however, the responsibility of the
labour inspectors goes a lot further; they monitor employment, working
hours, wages and equal treatment for men and women. The national labour
inspectors hereby take on the responsibilities that are attributed to
the works councils in Germany.
situation of Polish trade unions
European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) in Brussels released, in June
2012, the second country report on trade unions in Central and East
Europe (the first review of this series on the Czech Republic was
published in December 2010, see report in
EWC News 4/2010).
This comprehensive 98 page work digs deep into the history of the
Polish trade union movement, describes today's organization with its
internal divisions as well as the development of its membership. We
learn that only 10% of the Polish working population was unionized in
2010. The report appendix contains a time-table of major events in
industrial relations and an extensive trade union glossary. One of the
authors, Dr. Jan Czarzasty, was a speaker at the EWC Academy Hamburg
seminar in January 2012.
We have arranged further technical literature on a
12. The EWC Academy:
Examples of our work
for employee representatives
a project meeting, held in Budapest from 26th to 27th June 2012,
members of the Donata Holding’s SE works council (photo)
developed an Internet-based reporting system for business data and key
employment figures. The tool was developed with support from the EWC
Academy and aims at improving the use of the SE works
information and consultation rights particularly prior to any
The SE works council of
group is presently confronted with workforce relocations. Court
proceedings have been underway in the Ludwigshafen labour courts since
February 2012, for the violation of information and consultation rights
in EWC News 1/2012). The EWC Academy acts as adviser
to the SE works council.
travel division of EADS about to update EWC
EWC Academy advised the Astrium EWC, during a plenary meeting held on
5th July 2012 in Bremen, on the possibilities to adapt the EWC
agreement to the new EU-standards. The European Astrium Space Travel
Committee - as the EWC is officially called - represents 15,000
employees of the EADS space travel division in Germany, France, Spain,
Great Britain and the Netherlands. Under the roof of EADS Holding there
are three further European divisional works councils, e.g. for Airbus
in EWC News 1/2012).
Third French-German works council
conference in Paris
25 seminar participants came together on 18th September 2012 in the
“Maison Internationale”, a historical building on
outskirts of Paris (photo), to discuss ways of safeguarding employment
in times of crisis. This was the third time running that the meeting
took place. Representatives from Finland, Switzerland and the United
Kingdom were participating for the first time. Practical examples from
TUI, the tourist group and the automobile supplier Bosch were on the
agenda. On the previous day small groups of non-French speaking
participants were able to familiarize themselves with the subtleties of
French labour relations. A visit to a French works council trade-fair
was programmed for the day after the seminar.
Italian EWC seminar in
representatives from Germany, Italy and South Tyrol met on 27th and
28th September 2012 in Bolzano (photo), to gain knowledge on the
respective labour relation system of the other country. A German EWC
member reported on the activities of the Italian bank, UniCredit, on a
European level and Italian representatives from the EWC of the German
Volkswagen group. South Tyrol helped bridge the gap between the two
linguistic areas and facilitated mutual understanding.
Training for British American
plenary meeting of the BAT EWC was held on 1st and 2nd October 2012 in
Madrid. The EWC Academy gave training on the different systems of
labour relations to around 25 representatives participating from almost
all European Union countries. The world’s second largest
company has its head office in London and established its EWC in 1996.
Current training schedule
schedule brochure 2013
EWC Academy and its forerunner organization have been organizing and
delivering conferences and seminars for the members of European works
councils, SE works councils and special negotiation bodies since
January 2009. So far 406 employee representatives from 173 companies
have taken part including many of them for several times. This
represents 17% of all companies in Europe with an established EWC. In
addition there were numerous in-house training sessions. For
the year 2013 a new brochure is now available, giving an overview of
the planned events. Additional events and topics are in preparation.
conference in London (only
few places left)
the second time already a conference is being held on 25th and 26th
October 2012 in London. The meeting will be simultaneously interpreted.
It is aimed at members of European works councils who fall under
British legislation, as well as at employee representatives from
Germany and other countries wishing to familiarize themselves with the
Conference for women on Gender Mainstreaming
conference taking place in Hamburg, apart from examining
participation in supervisory boards will also study possible courses of
action for works councils to prevent discrimination and to promote the
reconciliation of professional and family lives. The program on 15th
and 16th November 2012 includes lectures from female academics as well
as practical examples of EWC and national works councils’
experience in equal treatment.
representation in international
seminar is taking place in Hamburg, from 19th to 23rd November 2012,
which will not only interest EWC members, but also members of national
works councils, representatives in supervisory boards as well as works
council assistants in international companies. The speakers are the
lady journalist, Michaela Böhm, as well as Klaus Franz, who
has been the EWC chairman of General Motors for many years (see photo).
5th Hamburg Conference for
European and SE works councils
As every year since January
2009, a two-day conference is being organised in Hamburg covering the
28th January 2013: Current trends in the EWC landscape -
new court rulings and examples of EWC work
2013: Visit to the Airbus plant in Hamburg and
presentation by members of the Airbus EWC
Please find a summary of
possible topics for in-house events here:
News is published by:
collaborating on this
Werner Altmeyer, Manfred Bobke, Rita da Luz
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the French version: 2,799 readers
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as reports on your EWC activities. Please write us at: email@example.com