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News Bulletin – worker-participation.eu

May 2011

EDITORIAL

The European Private Company: on the agenda (again)
Sigurt Vitols, ETUI

Although previous attempts at getting agreement on a controversial proposal to enact the European Private Company have failed, the current Hungarian Presidency is trying push the proposal ahead with compromises on controversial points such as worker involvement and the issues of separation of home and host country. The ETUC has been clear on its demands regarding the SPE: this should not be established as a vehicle which allows companies to 'escape' their national industrial relations systems and to undermine Social Europe. Read more (.pdf)

Worker Participation - Transversal issues

Worker participation: Underappreciated and underplayed in Europe 2020

The ETUI/ETUC's 'Benchmarking Working Europe 2011' is a critical assessment of the Europe 2020 strategy. Chapter 8 of the report deals with the issues of social dialogue and worker participation being largely absent in Europe 2020. The chapter demonstrates the fruitful outcomes so far achieved at European level by the institutions and practices of social dialogue and worker representation, as well as the need for these forms of action to enjoy recognition by the EU institutions and inclusion in the implementation and purposes of the Europe 2020 strategy. In this respect, e.g. the ETUI's European Participation Index (EPI) shows that countries with stronger worker representation rights perform better on all five EU2020 targets. Read more (.pdf)


Update of country reports on national industrial relations

The EU member states have very different traditions and systems of industrial relations. For a better mutual understanding it is crucial to be aware of the key differences and similarities. The National Industrial Relations section on worker-participation.eu pursues this aim. The updated country reports - prepared as in past years by Lionel Fulton of the Labour Research Department (London) - provide a unique overview of trade unions, collective bargaining, workplace representation, board-level representation and representation in EU bodies. The update in German and French will follow soon.

Read more: Country reports / Comparative overviews / Compare countries tool

European Company (Societas Europaea, SE)

News from the ETUI's European Company (SE) Database

The number of European Companies (SE) keeps on growing. As of 2 May 2011, a total of 796 registered SEs had been listed in the ETUI's European Company (SE) Database. SEs can today be found in 22 EU countries. Only in 70 SEs, however, have agreements on worker involvement been concluded. In 34 SEs, the rights enshrined in the agreement include board-level participation, thereby adding an important dimension for workers' voice in company decision-making. Read more

New online tool: Comparing national SE transposition laws

The EU member states (plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) had leeway on many points when transposing the SE Directive. A new feature of the worker-participation.eu website enables the visitor to compare key elements of the national laws transposing the SE Directive (2001/86/EC) in different countries. Read more

Eurofound study 'Employee involvement in companies under the European Company Statute'

Eurofound has published a report about Employee involvement in companies under the European Company Statute. The study examines, by means of both a review of existing literature and an in-depth study of 10 cases of corporate good practice, how the employee involvement specified in this legislation is being implemented in practice. An executive summary and the full report (.pdf) can be found on the page of Eurofound .

Are you being served? The consultation procedure on the functioning of the European Company Statute

Jan Cremers gives his view in an upcoming article of the ongoing deliberations about the findings of the Ernst & Young report. According to him the European Commission hardly deals with earlier criticism, such as the high occurrence of shelf SEs and the abuse of the location of registered and head office of an SE. Besides that, question-marks can be raised with regard to the methods used in this consultation. A preview of the article can be found here and a longer version is published in Transfer 2-2011.

European Works Council (EWC)

Training makes EWCs and SNBs fit for transnational strategies - New EWC Directive finally provides legal right to training for EWCs and SNBs

The recast EWC Directive 2009/38/EC and the national transposition provisions guarantee many EWCs and all SNBs a right to training as of 5th June 2011, even if the EWC agreement does not contain any such provisions on training. We will gladly advise you on these questions too. Read more (.pdf) on training contents and contact details.

European company law and corporate governance

SEEurope report: EU and national company law - fixation on attractiveness

The expert's of the ETUI's SEEurope network have investigated, in their report, the introduction of more simplified national company legislation and the instigation of more competition between Member States. Besides that, the European Commission, with the Better Regulation agenda, is promoting more competitiveness and attractiveness within and between the Member States. EU legislation should not encourage regime-shopping but contribute to a more sustainable legal setting. Read more

European Commission Public Consultation on the EU Corporate Governance Framework

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on possible ways forward to improve the corporate governance framework in Europe. It is important that this consultation be used as an opportunity to express the need for stronger worker "voice" in corporate affairs in the interests of the long-term sustainability of companies. Read more

European Commission Public Consultation on Disclosure of Non-financial Information by Companies

The European Commission has just published a summary report of the responses received to its public consultation on disclosure of non-financial information by companies. The report shows that there is strong support for mandatory and standardized reporting by companies on a variety of issues, including human rights and environmental and social impacts. Read more

Reports

EWPCC seminar on Confidentiality in Europe's company boardrooms (Brussels, 29-30 March)

In March, the ETUI's European Workers Participation Conference Centre (EWPCC) organised a first interactive training for SE board-level employee representatives. The purpose of this two-day seminar was to help worker representatives to deal with everyday problems related to information declared to be confidential. Representatives from nine different companies and five different countries exchanged ideas and experiences, were informed about the regulations concerning the subject of confidentiality and discussed with trade union experts and practitioners. Read more

Conference report - Now Boarding! Expressing employees' strategic interests in Europe's company boardrooms and the EU Internal Market

The EWPCC organised together with Stichting À Propos (NL) and the FNV (Dutch trade union federation) a two day conference about how to make use of employee participation rights in decision making at strategic company level and how to push companies in a more socially responsible and sustainable direction. The financial crisis and the associated failure of theories on market discipline and shareholder capitalism create new challenges for strengthening the influence of employees and other stakeholders over multinational companies in transition. Read more

Publications

ETUI publications

Transfer issue on employee participation at company level and social dialogue - contributions by ETUI and SEEurope researchers

The latest Transfer issue is to take stock of the various Commission initiatives in the fields of employee participation at company level and social dialogue generally. A particular focus lies on the opportunities and challenges which these initiatives provide to trade unions in terms of their capacity to influence developments at European level. While the first part focuses on the sectoral and cross-sectoral (interprofessional) levels analysing developments in social dialogue, the second part concentrates on the company level, examining the impact of the three main legislative measures that have been adopted in the field of employee participation since the mid-1990s: the European Works Councils Directive, the Directive on the involvement of employees in European Companies and the framework Directive on information and consultation at the national level. Table of contents here

The Sustainable Company: a new approach to corporate governance - Edited by Sigurt Vitols and Norbert Kluge

For the past two decades corporate governance reform in Europe has been guided by the 'shareholder value' model of the firm. That model is now discredited as one of the major causes of the financial and economic crisis. In this book an alternative approach (the Sustainable Company) to corporate governance is presented by members of the GOODCORP network of researchers and trade unionists.

More information can be found here

Benchmarking Working Europe 2011 - ETUI and ETUC

The ETUC and ETUI offer a critical assessment of the Europe 2020 strategy and its various components. Benchmarking Working Europe 2011 is structured in eight topical chapters illustrated by a significant number of graphs, and has a completely new layout. More

'In the union and on the board': experiences of board-level employee representatives across Europe - Edited by Michael Gold, Norbert Kluge and Aline Conchon

This book depicts the everyday realities of serving as an employee representative in company boardrooms, and - as importantly - the personalities behind them. Eighteen representatives located in 12 European countries introduce the reader to their experiences, as well as their duties, responsibilities and perceptions against the background of their individual character, colleagues and workplaces. More

Worth reading

Nachhaltigkeit - Unternehmensverantwortung Mitbestimmung - Katrin Vitols

In this report Katrin Vitols provides an overview, based on desktop research, of the CSR involvement of trade unions and works councils in Germany. It includes interesting insights and information on the often problematic interaction between workers' representatives and management-led CSR initiatives. More on HBS website, Review by Jan Cremers

Information and consultation practice across Europe five years after the EU Directive - Mark Hall and John Purcell

This report provides an overview of the extent, practice and impact of employee information and consultation (I&C) in 26 European countries five years after the implementation date of Directive 2002/14/EC. Procedures for establishing I&C arrangements and the scope for organisation- or sector-specific I&C models via collective agreement vary considerably between countries. More on Eurofound website, Review by Jan Cremers

Industrial relations in Europe 2010 report - European Commission

This report from the European Commission reviews trends and developments in the relationships between workers, employers, their respective representatives and public authorities during 2008-10. More on European Commission website

The Ambivalent Character of Participation - New Tendencies in Worker Participation in Europe - Edited by Francesco Garibaldo and Volker Telljohann

This book intends to provide a look at new initiatives in the various fields of workplace participation. Leading international scholars examine the role of institutional contexts for participation, the development of new forms of interest organisation as well as the relationship between organisational performance, participation practices and quality of working life. More on EMF website

Die Europäische Aktiengesellschaft - Roland Köstler

The publication is a timely update (5th edition) of a booklet providing a detailed overview of the SE as well as additional information on cross-border mergers. This publication is part of a series of practical guides for board level employee representatives. As it gives more detailed background information on the SE it is a valuable complement to another recent HBS publication for those involved in negotiations on SE agreements. More

Mitbestimmung in der Europäischen Aktiengesellschaft (SE) - Edgar Rose and Roland Köstler

The publication is an analysis of 42 agreements in German SEs dealing with worker participation, information and consultation. Basic background information on the SE is provided at the beginning of the book. The core of the book however is numerous examples of portions of concrete agreements, divided up by subject area. An accompanying CD makes referencing provisions easier. The examples provide guidance for those involved in first-time negotiation or renegotiation of SE agreements. More

Calendar

ETUI fringe meeting on worker participation during the 12th ETUC Congress, 'European Challenges for Worker Involvement', Athens, 16 May 2011

During the first day of the ETUC Congress, the ETUI organises a 'fringe meeting' on European worker involvement issues. Topics for the discussion are the current situation of the SE and SPE debate, transnational company agreements (TCA) and the example of Nordea Bank's cross-border trade union body. Speakers in the meeting will be: Jan Cremers (ETUC Policy Advisor), Isabelle Barthes (EMF Senior Policy Advisor) and Christine Asmussen (Kreds Nordea Head of Secretariat). More information can be found here.

Book launch - 'The Sustainable Company: changing the way our corporations are governed in the interests of stakeholders and society' - ACV/CSC, Rue de Trèves 31-33, Brussels

On 12 July 2011, keynote speakers will discuss current challenges and policy alternatives in corporate governance in Europe. Panel sessions will debate new ideas and alternatives presented in the book The Sustainable Company. The programme can be found here (.pdf).

EWPCC workshop in November 2011 - 'SEs in stormy weather'

After the EWPCC conferences in Vienna, Brussels and Amsterdam the next "big" event will be held in November 2011 in Poland. The title of the conference will be 'SEs in stormy weather' and will focus on the experiences and best practices of board-level employee representatives across Europe as well as an overview and comments on recent legislative initiatives concerning the revision of the SE Directive and the development of a framework for SPEs. For more information please keep an eye on the EWPCC website

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