How can European Works Councils help organise workers in multinational health and care companies?

EPSU-ETUI SEMINAR workers in multinational health and care companies Berlin 20-21 November 2023

(22 November 2023) On 20 and 21 November EPSU affiliates met at ver.di headquarters in Berlin for a seminar organised with ETUI to discuss how European Works Councils (EWCs) can be used to organise workers in health and social care companies. The demand for care provision is growing due to population aging and, as such, the number of private multinational companies operating in the health and social care (HSS) sector has also grown. EPSU is actively engaged in coordinating EWCs as well as establishing new ones. In HSS we are represented in such companies as Fresenius, Orpea and Clariane. We are currently engaged in establishing worker participation on the European level in Colisee, Norlandia and, in the near future, in Domus Vi and Dibber.

Strong EWCs are only possible with strong trade union participation, and vice versa: EWCs can actively help to organise new workers in trade unions to strengthen trade unions. Participants heard theoretical information on the functioning of EWCs and organising and were able to share their own experiences in those subjects. They heard how EWC structures on European level can be helpful on the national level, in particular for access to information and how to effectively use rights to consultation stipulated by the relevant directive. One key example discussed was how EPSU and French unions were instrumental in protecting a German EWC chair in Orpea from unlawful union-busting actions conducted by the local subsidiary. See more information here.

 Presentations included:

  • The role, goals and scope of EWCs in health and social care by Udo Verzagt, European Works Council Academy;
  • EPSU experiences of setting up and running EWCs by Niko Stumpfögger, ver.di and Tuscany Bell, EPSU;
  • EWCs as organising tools, Adam Rogalewski, EPSU

After the seminar, it was suggested to organise a conference in the future with more participants in order to strengthen coordination and information exchange between representatives in EPSU led EWCs.