EWC GdFSuez considers company strategy, “naïve” EU energy policy, social reporting and health and safety
(6 June 2012) The European Works Council (EWC) of GdfSuez held its ½ yearly meeting with the CEO Mr. Mestrallet. He introduced the company strategy and the priorities for the company which includes growing in markets in Asia-Pacific and Latin America and focusing on new activities. Particular attention was given to the take-over of the final shares of International Power (IP), energy services including smart metering, and research and development with discussion on shale gas and biogas. The company also reported solid results in a difficult economic situation. EWC members raised a series of questions from the different branches and including about the disinvestment programme. The trend towards remunicipalisation poses a serious challenge to the water business of the company (Suez Environment) in France. Mr. Mestrallet expressed his concerns about Europe’s energy policy and the misguided over-reliance on the internal market for electricity and gas. Thinking that markets will deliver all solutions in this area is “naive” he argued.
Longer exchanges took place over the social reporting of the group and the importance of finding a benchmark on social dialogue and the social climate in the group as well as health and safety. Several delegates referred to the importance of addressing stress and a concrete project was proposed.
There were also questions raised about the manner in which GdfSuez will respect the legislation introduced by ex-President Sarkozy to ensure that the companies distribute profits not only to shareholders but also to workers. This will be done through a programme of free shares. A commitment was made that all workers in GdfSuez should have a similar value of their package even though the mix might be different. Workers in Suez Environment should also fully profit from the package. The company needs to conclude an agreement with the unions to ensure all workers are treated in a similar manner. The legislation proves rather difficult to implement and allows for short delays to reach appropriate agreements with the trade unions.
A preparatory meeting took place on 4 June with a debriefing on 6 June, in Paris. EWC chair is Bob van Passen. EPSU’s deputy General Secretary took part. Following the meeting of the EWC a new transnational company agreement on equality with was signed.