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News Bulletin – worker-participation.eu

October 2011

EDITORIAL

Two years later
Elwin Wolters worked for 2 years as a SE team member (of the ETUI) based on a contract between the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies and the European Trade Union Institute. He dealt with research related to the European Company Statute (SE) and edited the Worker Participation News Bulletin. He contributed to the forthcoming ETUI handbook about worker involvement in the European Company for practitioners and published with his supervisor Jan Cremers in the ETUI Report series. Elwin has found a new challenge in the Dutch trade union “Unie Services” as a project manager. Read his Editorial here.

Worker Participation – Transversal issues

Fitness check Information and Consultation
As part of its ‘smart regulation’ programme, the European Commission (DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) asked Deloitte Consulting to review the performance of three EU Directives concerning the information and consultation of employees (Directive 2002/14/EC - the general framework for informing and consulting employees, Directive 98/59/EC on collective redundancies and Directive 2001/23/EC on the transfer of undertakings). The work involves case studies, as well as interviews with social partners and national authorities throughout the EU and EEA countries. A questionnaire is developed in order to gather views from employers and employee representatives at company or establishment level. Deloitte has asked the European social partners to make the questionnaire available through their national affiliates. Read more

European Company (Societas Europaea, SE)

News from the ETUI’s European Company (SE) Database
The summer of 2011 proved to be a very dynamic period as far as the establishment of SE is concerned. As of 24 September 2011, a total of 925 registered SE companies were listed in the ETUI’s European Company Database (ECDB), 108 more than at the time of the June 2011 update. The significant growth in the number of SE registrations is largely due to the establishment of shelf companies in the Czech Republic. The total number of Czech SE companies is 522 (79 more than in June). This makes up 56% of the total number of SEs in Europe. Summarising the latest figures: normal - 191, shelf -138, empty - 98, UFO - 498, total - 925. Read more

EU consultation – The European Cooperative Society
The responsible Directorate General Enterprise (the SME section) launched mid April a web-based consultation on the functioning of the European Cooperative Society, with the deadline 16 June 2011. Regulation 1435/2003 on the Statute for a European Cooperative Society (Societas Cooperativa Europaea – SCE) provides rules on the formation, structure and functioning of an SCE. It was introduced jointly with Council Directive n° 2003/72/EC supplementing the Regulation and introducing the rules on the involvement of employees of an SCE. Both texts were adopted on 22 July 2003 and became applicable from 18 August 2006. The Regulation requires the Commission to present a report on its application five years after its entry into force. The Commission launched a study which was finalised in October 2010. Purpose of the consultation was to allow stakeholders to provide their views concerning the findings and recommendations of the study. The ETUC has contributed with a critical assessment.

The number of SEs in Germany
In a German article (in Böcklerimpuls 11/2011) the incidence of SEs in Germany is assessed by Roland Köstler. At this moment the SE form cannot be seen as a threat to the German participation tradition. However, there is a risk of the “freezing” of workers’ rights.

A new consultation on the possible review of the European Company Directive
On 5 July 2011, the European Commission approved the consultation document First phase consultation of Social Partners under Article 154 TFEU on the possible review of Directive 2001/86/EC supplementing the Statute for a European company with regard to the involvement of employees. The cover letter of the document identifies three problematic areas concerning the rules on employee involvement contained in the SE Directive, i.e. a) the complexity of the procedure for employee involvement; b) the lack of legal certainty concerning certain aspects of the negotiation procedure; c) the concern that the use of the SE form could have an effect on the rights to employee involvement granted by national or EU law. In this first phase, social partners are consulted on whether a) those are the main issues raised by the operation of the Directive; b) the Directive should be amended; c) other non-legislative measures at EU level would merit consideration and d) they would initiate a negotiation under Article 155 TFUE. The SEEurope network collected the national experiences with the SE rules. See the summary report here.

European Works Councils (EWC)

The EWC landscape on the eve of the transposition deadline of the recast Directive 2009/38/EC. Evidence from the ETUI database.
The ETUI produced a brochure with pre-selected data from a forthcoming publication ‘Mapping European Works Councils’. It aims at delivering basic figures (from the ETUI database of EWCs) concerning the operation of EWCs and the workers they represent on the eve of the EWC recast directive’s transposition deadline. The European Commission produced a leaflet on the new rules (in all EU languages).

The transposition of the recast Directive in The Netherlands.
The legal frame for the work of European Works Councils was formulated in 1994. In 2009 a recast Directive was concluded between the European Parliament and the European Council. Member States had till June 2011 to implement the text into national law. In an article in the Dutch quarterly Zeggenschap Jan Cremers reports briefly on the European and the Dutch transposition. The Dutch legislator is no longer a forerunner in the field.

European company law and corporate governance

European Commission Communication on Corporate Social Responsibility and Green Papers on European Company Law and European Corporate Governance
The European Commission has postponed the publication of the Communication on Corporate Social Responsibility until later this year. The planned publication of a Green Paper on European Company Law has also been postponed, in this case until the first quarter of 2012. The Commission received over 200 responses to its Green Paper on European Company Law. Commissioner Barnier will be presenting an analysis of the responses at the Polish EU Council Presidency Conference on Corporate Governance in Warsaw on 15 November 2011.

Study on the application of Directive 2004/25/EC on takeover bids
The European Commission has commissioned Marccus Partners and the Centre on European Policy Studies to carry out a study on the functioning of the Takeover Directive. Questionnaires have been sent to experts and different groups, including worker representatives. Trade unions have been asked to report on (among other things) the impact of the takeovers on employment levels and working conditions, and whether the rights in the Directive are adequate to protect the workers interests. The Takeover Directive was implemented under the assumption that takeovers are generally good for improving the companies’ performance and for increasing the efficiency of the economy. However, the majority of studies show that takeovers as a whole fail to lead to better performance. There is a negative average impact on employment and the quality of information and consultation provided to workers during takeovers is quite deficient. Recently, the public outcry over the breaking of promises regarding production locations and employment by Kraft after it had taken over Cadburys led to a revision of the UK Takeover Code involving a strengthening of worker rights.

Reports

Book launch (Brussels, 12 July 2011) and conference Sustainable companies (Oslo, 29-30 August 2011)
On 12 July 2012 the ETUI book The Sustainable Company: a new approach to corporate governance was launched by the GOODCORP network in a conference with 60 participants from a wide variety of organisations. Bernadette Ségol, General Secretary of the ETUC opened with a keynote address. Two panels consisting of authors of the Sustainable Company book discussed the core messages and recommendations of the book. A closing ‘political panel’ including Claudia Menne (ETUC), Janet Williamson (TUC) and Eric Ducoulombier (DG Internal Market) indicated support for many of the concepts and conclusions, particularly the idea of the Sustainable Company as an alternative to the shareholder value approach to corporate governance. The book was also presented by GOODCORP members on a panel at an Oslo University conference on Sustainable Companies, on 29-30 August 2011.

Publications

ETUI publications

Conchon A. (2011) ‘Employee representation in corporate governance: part of the economic or the social sphere?’ ETUI Working Paper, 2011.08
A new ETUI Working Paper suggests adopting a analytical framework helping to better understand what is at stake in the production of European legal rules on corporate governance and worker participation, such as the still pending European Private Company Statute. It argues that the regulatory game at EU level is rather revealed by the competition between two representations of the world borne by the actors: (1) one in which the economic and the social spheres are viewed as being independent and disembedded, just as the fields of company law and labour law; and (2) another in which, on the contrary both spheres are considered embedded in such a way that a comprehensive regulation should encompass both legal fields. Download here.


Worth reading

One company, Diverse Workplaces: The Social Construction of Employment Practices in Western and Eastern Europe – Marta Kahancová
Marta Kahancová wrote an interesting book based on the monitoring of the behaviour of the Dutch multinational Philips in subsidiaries in other constituencies. Her book offers an inquiry into the process through which multinational companies establish and reinforce their position in host-country labour markets across Western and Eastern Europe. Read the review by Jan Cremers here.

Globalizing Employment Relations. Multinational Firms and Central and Eastern European Transitions – Sylvie Contrepois, Violanie Delteil, Patrick Dieuaide and Steve Jefferys (eds)
In 2001 the ETUC and UNICE (at present BUSINESSEUROPE) came up with a joint reportDialogue social et concertation dans les pays candidates à l’UE – bilan et perspectives. One of the conclusions of that study on the eve of the 2004 EU enlargement was that directly after the demise of the planned economy industrial relations at branch level were rudimentary and collective agreements beyond the plant level were in practice non-existent. Now, ten years later a book is published that is partly dedicated to the same item. Read the review by Jan Cremers here.

Calendar

Workshop: Financial Analysis and Sustainability, 26-28 October 2011
Succeeding previous initiatives in Runö (February 2009) and Helsingör (March 2010), the European Worker Participation Competence Centre (EWPCC) and the ETUI Education department will organise a third workshop for experts and trainers of board-level employee representatives. Read more.

HBS/DGB/ETUC/ETUI/FES conference 8-9 November 2011
On the 8-9 November 2011 the European panel (an annual conference with 300-400 participants) will take place in Brussels. This year’s theme is 60 years of co-determination. The conference title is Worker’s participation – Building a more democratic and social Europe.

GoodCorp Network Meeting, 14 November 2011
The expert group GOODCORP will be sponsoring a public event on the contribution of board level employee representation in Polish companies to good corporate governance. The event will take place on 14 November 2011 between 17-19h at the Polish trade union OPZZ’s headquarters in Warsaw prior to the Polish EU Council Presidency’s conference on corporate governance at the Warsaw Stock Exchange on 15 November 2011.

EWPCC workshop, 15-16 November 2011 - SEs in stormy weather
After the EWPCC conferences in Vienna, Brussels and Amsterdam the next “big” event will be organised in Poland in cooperation with Solidarność, OPZZ, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Polish Office and the Hans Böckler Foundation. The conference ‘SEs in stormy weather’ focusses on the experiences and best practices of board-level employee representatives across Europe as well as on recent legislative initiatives concerning the revision of the SE Directive and the development of a framework for SPEs. More information on the EWPCC website.

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© ETUI aisbl, Brussels 2011. All rights reserved. We encourage the distribution of this newsletter and of the information it contains for non-commercial purposes and provided the source is credited. The ETUI is financially supported by the European Union. The European Union is not responsible for any use made of the information contained in this publication.