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European-level Representation

UK representatives on most of the bodies linked to European Works Councils and the European Company are to be elected by the whole workforce, unless there is an existing body which represents and in some cases has already been elected by the whole workforce, which then has appointment rights. But the UK government has chosen not to draw up specific rules on the choice of UK members of some of the European Company structures, leaving the choice to lower level representative bodies.

 

European Works Councils

 

UK members of the special negotiating body (SNB) for the EWC are elected by a ballot of the whole workforce, unless there is an existing consultative committee (a body whose normal functions include carrying out an information and consultation function) which itself consists entirely of members elected by the whole workforce. In practice such committees are rare and normally the whole workforce will vote on UK members of the SNB. As well as employees, external trade union representatives can be members of the SNB from the UK, provided the employer “recognises” the union (see section on workplace representation).

 

The procedure is essentially the same for UK members of an EWC set up under the fallback provisions of the annex to the directive, although the members can be chosen by existing employee representatives, even if they have not been elected by the whole workforce. Representatives of recognised unions can choose the UK members, provided the union or unions represent the whole workforce. UK members of an EWC set up under the fallback provisions must be employees.

 

European Company

 

UK members of the special negotiating body (SNB) for a European Company are elected by a ballot of the whole workforce, unless there is an existing consultative committee (a body whose normal functions include carrying out an information and consultation function) which represents the whole workforce. As well as employees, external trade union representatives can be members of the SNB from the UK. However, this is only possible if company management agrees that this should happen.

 

There are no specific UK rules on the choice of UK representatives for an SE representative body set up under the fallback procedure in the annex to the directive. This is left entirely to the special negotiating body.

 

Similarly, in the case of UK employee representatives at board level the UK legislation states only that “the [SE] representative body shall have the right to elect, appoint, recommend or oppose the appointment” of board members. There are no specific UK rules.

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.