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European-level Representation

There is a difference in the way that Norwegian representatives on European Works Councils and those within the European Company are chosen. While representatives for the EWC are elected by all employees, representatives in the European Company structure are, in the first instance, chosen by the local unions.

European Works Councils

Norwegian members of the special negotiating body (SNB) for a European Works Council (EWC) are elected by the employees. The elections are either conducted in the same way as those for employee members of national works councils, that is through a written secret ballot in an election organised within the different groups of the company by the appropriate union representatives, or, if this is not appropriate, they are chosen using the method for the election of employee board-level representatives, which also give the union representatives an important role. They must be employees. (The rules for EWCs in Norway were initially part of the basic agreement between the union confederation LO and the national employers’ association NHO and then made generally applicable by the Norwegian parliament.)

If the SNB is unable to reach agreement with management after two years of negotiation, or if negotiations are terminated earlier because agreement cannot be reached, or if management refuses to begin negotiations within a period of six months, the issue is referred to a joint union employer body. This body – the Bedriftsdemokratinemnd or industrial democracy board – is made up of representatives of both LO and the employers’ association NHO with a neutral chair. It has the power to instruct a company to set up an EWC, whose structure and duties “shall be determined by the board”. These arrangements replace the normal fallback provisions which other states have used to implement the terms of the annex to the directive.

European Company

Norwegian members of the special negotiating body (SNB) for the European Company can be chosen by the unions in the company, provided they represent at least two-thirds of the employees. If this is not the case, or if the unions cannot agree who should be chosen, the SNB members are elected by all the employees. Only employees can be SNB members.

The same rules apply for Norwegian members of the SE representative body (arbeidstakernes representasjonsorgan) as set up under the fallback provisions of the directive.

Norwegian employee representatives at board level in a European Company set up under the terms of the annex to the directive are also appointed in the same way – by the unions if they represent two-thirds of employees, otherwise by elections. Again they must be employees.

L. Fulton (2013) Worker representation in Europe. Labour Research Department and ETUI. Produced with the assistance of the SEEurope Network, online publication available at http://www.worker-participation.eu/National-Industrial-Relations.