Improvements to European Works Councils under new draft directive

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(24 January 2024) The European Commission has unveiled its proposal to amend the directive governing European Works Councils (EWCs), which represent the voice of employees in multinational corporations. The proposal emphasises the need for EWC consultation on key decisions, mandates the conclusion of consultations before decisions are made, and calls for adequate funding for EWCs. However, the proposal lacks robust penalties to deter companies from violating workers' rights and fails to extend coverage to franchises such as McDonald's.

European Works Councils (EWCs) are established to provide workers with a voice in large multinational companies where significant decisions are made at the European level. The current EWC Directive falls short in ensuring timely information, meaningful consultation, and effective sanctions for breaches by multinationals. The European Parliament had previously voted in favour of strengthening the directive in February 2023. A more robust directive is seen as crucial for enforcing workers' information and consultation rights, particularly in the context of transitioning to a green and digital economy.

While the proposal marks a key step towards reinforcing workers' voices through European Works Councils, the focus is now on Parliament and Council collaboration to further improve the directive. The ETUC has expressed strong mobilisation efforts to guide these institutions in the right direction.

Read the Commission proposal here.

Read EPSU’s expectations for the revised directive here.