Time to change the rules on European works council, says European Parliament

The European Parliament adopted with a large majority a resolution calling on the Commission to revise the 2009 European works councils directive

There are more than 1000 European works council (EWC) across the EU. These are bodies representing employees of large transnational companies in the EU, which are granted certain information and consultation rights. The provisions regulating the establishment of such bodies had been revised for the last time in 2009 and needed to be amended again, says Parliament, which now formally demands the Commission to do so.

Dennis Radtke (EPP), who was the rapporteur for this topic, managed to find a large majority to support the resolution. The European Commission now has three months to respond to the demands of the Parliament.

The resolution underlines the importance the EU gives to democracy at work, freedom of assembly, workers’ right to information and consultation, the right of collective bargaining and action and to social dialogue. It also restates that the European works council are an important pillar of European social model.

More specifically, the Parliament asks to reform the current rules on EWC by:

  • setting a concrete definition of the transnational character of the companies at stake
  • clarifying that “employees representatives” are trade unions
  • underlining that employees’ consultation rights have to be a real dialogue and must enable employees’ representatives to express a prior opinion
  • introducing a more defined procedure to set up an European work council regarding the special negotiating body, assistance by recognized Union-level trade union organizations, gender balance, and other issues
  • providing more clarity about confidentiality requirements
  • improving the information and consultation procedures
  • precising the role and the protection of employees’ representatives and training facilities
  • defining the role of Member-States in providing adequate and accessible administrative and judicial procedures.
  • laying down rules on penalties applicable to infringements, which shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive
  • introducing the right for EWC to meet with the central management twice a year.

"We are of course pleased that the European Parliament voted in favour of Dennis Radkte's report with a nice majority," said Jan Franco, international secretary at ACV-CSC Construction-Industry & Energy (ACV-CSC BIE), an EZA member. “This opens perspectives for the more than 140 delegates of our trade union who have a mandate within a European Works Council. But we are not there yet. Without legal strengthening of the European directive on the matter and sanctions that can really hit hard-headed multinationals, all too many workers will be deprived of information and consultation at European level. And this in turbulent times when the right to information and consultation, and essentially to social dialogue, is crucial," he added.