Defend your rights to information and consultation in EWCs: use the EPSU Legal assistance fund

(27 September 2010) The EPSU EWC Coordinators group considered a range of recent developments that involved European Works Councils.

Cases included the sale of the UK distribution networks of EDF to Cheung Kong Infrastructures;
the take-over by GdfSuez of IP;
the preparation of the legal case against GdfSuez for not respecting the EWC agreement over the mobility policy of GdfSuez.

Romuald Jagodzinski of ETUI gave an overview of a number of court cases that involved the rights of the EWC.

The EWC representatives and trade union officers also considered the role of the EPSU legal assistance fund.
It was agreed to bring this to the attention of EWC representatives again and to stimulate colleagues to be more offensive in pursuing their rights.

Coordinators which are active in EWCs underlined the point that information and consultation are two separate moments and should not be confused with each other. The definitions of these rights in the Recast EWC Directive are providing a clear basis.

Romuald further provided an update on the state of affairs with regard to the implementation of the EWC Directive by Member States. Although there are discussions and preparations in several Member States the transposition has not come very far.

Social partners have indicated they are not much involved in the process. The European trade union movement has prepared several documents to guide members of Special Negotiating Bodies and EWCs how to use the new EWC Directive (ETUI guide).

A list of these publications will be circulated. Members noted the EPSU guidelines for negotiating an EWC based on the new directive and best practice.

As regard the work programme of 2009-2014 the EPSU Congress resolution provides a clear basis to develop the Coordinators Network further.

- A first priority is to ensure that workers in multinational companies have European information and consultation rights. Companies in all areas of work that are eligible for an EWC should be explored together with the unions organizing workers in the companies. Recently our research on companies in social services, health care and water have been updated and previous reports are available for the energy sector, the waste sector and emergency services.

- The coordinators also received reports on some recent developments regarding transnational agreements such as with GdfSuez and with RWE. The importance of the procedures and mandates for such transnational agreements was highlighted.

- EPSU is engaged in project called Wage Indicator project. This will bring together information on pay and conditions and is a way to compare developments in the company but also in the sectors both national and European. The information will be available for EPSU and affiliated unions.

- The EPSU–SOMO report on Corporate Social Responsibility in the energy companies and the role of EWCs received broad attention. It has been followed up by researching how the energy companies report on the socalled Energy Utilities Sector Supplement of the GRI guidelines. There are interesting standards around training, health and safety, ageing, and the use of contract workers but reporting is very uneven by companies. This will be a focus of attention. EPSU is to explore how companies can lose their GRI A+ ratings if reporting is below standard.

- Subjects for next meetings will also include developments around European companies (SE) and private equity.

The meeting took place 21 September 2010, Brussels. It was chaired by the EPSU Deputy General Secretary.