EPSU EWC Coordinators discuss European Company guideline

The Coordinators and EWC secretaries met 6 October 2005, Luxembourg. They considered the following: - Update on recent developments with regard to European Works Councils. Reports were given on EWCs in amongst others RWE Energie and Thames Water, Leipzig Stadtwerke, EDF, Eon, Capio, Veolia and Suez. The number of EWCs covered by EPSU is increasing. Discussion also took place on companies which do not have a EWC yet. Several contributions focused on the role of EWCs in restructuring and in outsourcing.
- European Company Jean Claude Le Douaron of the ETUI-REHS introduced the European Company and discussed various options possible for European Companies (SE). Suez, the French utilities group, has announced to create a European Company and this was used as a concrete case. The coordinators considered if EPSU should adopt guidelines for the unions when negotiating with management on workers' participation in the European Company. With courtesy of the EMF (the European Metalworkers Federation), its guidelines were used as a basis for discussion. The guidelines outline the major issues that should be covered in an agreement as well as the tasks and duties of workers' representatives in the Board (single or two-tier/ Supervisory Board system) of a European Company. More importantly the guidelines cover how the trade unions should position themselves. This means striving towards a united union voice, having experts to assist the Special Negotiating Body and striving for the highest level of workers' participation possible. This caused some debate as not all countries have experience with board level representation. Another complicated issue has to do with the financial rewards Board level representatives receive. The general mood was that such rewards (depending on the amount) should be returned to the union movement. The coordinators will return to this discussion when they next meet 10 May 2006, Luxembourg.
- Cross-border mergers Directive The Coordinators also considered the recently adopted directive, the link with the European Company and with information and consultation. Issues not discussed: the role of private equity funds; Communication in EWCs with members and what the role of coordinators can be; revision of the EWC Directive; EWCs and outsourcing. Next meetings 10 May 2006, Luxembourg; 26 September 2006, Brussels