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Financial Participation

The current level of employee financial participation in Italy is one of the lowest in Europe. Although several reforms during the 1990s tried to overcome the main obstacles to a more widespread implementation of financial participation in Italy, the unanimous attitude towards such systems on the trade unions’ side and existing company legislation tend to hinder such developments. Although the plan for a new law on workers’ participation was discussed in Italy in 2011/2012, it has still not been implemented.

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Collective Bargaining

 

Less than a third (29%) of all employees in the UK are covered by collective bargaining. In the private sector coverage is lower at around a sixth of and the key bargaining level is the company or the workplace. In the public sector, where almost two-thirds of employees are covered, industry level bargaining is more important.

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Trade Unions

At present just over a quarter (26%) of UK employees are union members, although union density is much higher in the public sector (56%) than the private sector (14%). There is only one union confederation in the UK, the TUC, and individual unions are fully independent. Around 60% of trade unionists in the TUC are in the three largest unions, which have grown through mergers.

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Financial Participation

The first employee financial participation schemes were not introduced into Great Britain until the end of the 1970s. The Labour Party, employer associates and trade unions were united in their opposition to any form of employee financial participation up till the end of the 1970s. By contrast, the Liberal Party, later followed by the Conservatives, lobbied for profit-sharing and employee share ownership in companies and were finally successful in winning over their erstwhile opponents. Since then a number of different employee financial participation schemes have developed.

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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.

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The forgotten Resource: Corporate Governance and Employee Board-Level Representation. The Situation in France, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK

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This study looks at governance structures and corporate governance codes in four separate European states: France, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. The four represent very different traditions of corporate governance - shareholder value is dominant in the UK, for example, while in the Netherlands companies are to be run in the long-term interest of all those involved. The UK is also the only country of the four where employees are not involved, at least to some degree, at board level.

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Corporate Governance and Company Law News

Topics: Corporate Governance Forum, European Private Company (EPC), Directive on the cross-border transfer of registered seat (14th company law directive), Corporate Governance Conference Helsinki, latest decisions from the European Court of Justice and the Shareholder rights directive

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Corporate Governance and Company Law News

Topics: Summary Report on the Consultation and Public Hearing on Future Priorities for the Action Plan, European Parliament resolution on recent developments and prospects in relation to company law, Directive regarding the transfer of the registered office of a company (14th company law directive), European Private Company (EPC), Corporate Governance Forum, European Cooperative Society (ECS)

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Workplace Representation

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Works councils provide representation for employees at the workplace and they have substantial powers – extending to an effective right of veto on some issues. Although not formally union bodies, union members normally play a key role within them.

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