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Workplace level representation in Slovenia is provided by both the union in the workplace and the works council. Both have information and consultation rights, although the works council’s are more extensive, while only the union can undertake collective bargaining.
union and works council
yes: state-owned and private companies
monistic or dualistic (choice)
Sources: see individual country sections; where a range of figures has been quoted, the lower number has been taken
In professional jargon one often hears about German- or French-type EWCs. The two terms refer to different compositions of EWC sessions. The criterion for distinguishing between them is whether management participates in the sessions of an EWC or not. In an EWC of the German type only the employee representatives are allowed to participate in the sessions. No delegates of the management are invited nor admitted to such internal EWC sessions. This approach stems from the German tradition of industrial relations and is closely related to the concept of the German works council or Betriebsrat, which is exclusively an employee body.
On the other hand, the French type of EWC comprises at its sessions representatives of both management and employees. They debate and reach decisions together. Moreover, in contrast to the German model, the EWC is most often chaired by a representative of the central management. Such a solution is not acceptable for German EWC members or trade unionists for whom works councils and EWCs are bastions of employee representation.
All in all, these two models are not very different from each other. This is due to the fact that in the German-type EWC such exclusively internal meetings are followed by a joint session with the management, during which all issues are discussed again. In the French-type EWC, on the other hand, it is a commonplace that the joint sessions of the EWC are preceded by preparatory meetings of the employee representatives. During these pre-sessions the employee delegates prepare the agenda, discuss points of special interest, agree upon strategy, and so on. Therefore, although the two models represent different philosophies and traditions of industrial relations they have relatively moderate implications for the functioning of EWCs.
An alternative and a compromise between the French and German models is a system of alternate chairmanship. In this structure the employees’ representative holds the chairmanship for a certain period of time, after which its counterpart on the management side takes over. Another alternative may be a system of joint chairmanship, in which the chair is a two-person office held jointly by employees’ and management representatives. The latter solution might have serious legal implications in case of a conflict between the EWC and the company management, however; in some cases, where the possibility of a joint chair is not foreseen by national legislation, the EWC might be hindered in bringing a case to court in consequence of having a management representative as the chairman.
Recast Directive 2009/38/EC
With the adoption and entry into force of the Recast Directive 2009/38/ec in June 2011 the situation of workers with regard to the right to training greatly improved. In Recital 33 of the Preamble it is recognised that 'In order to perform their representative role fully and to ensure that the European Works Council is useful, employees’ representatives must report to the employees whom they represent and must be able to receive the training they require.'
Based on the provision of Art. 10 of the Recast Directive now 'In so far as this is necessary for the exercise of their representative duties in an international environment, the members of the special negotiating body and of the European Works Council shall be provided with training without loss of wages.'
It is important to highlight that training is to be provided without the loss of wages (i.e. in the working time) and for both members of the SNB and EWC. The bone of contention may be the vague formulation 'in so far as this is necessary for the exercise of their representative duties' as the Directive is not clear on who decides about this and the Member States do not specify this, but implicitly this should be workers' representatives themselves who determine their needs themselves.
The change in legislation brought about an essential improvement in EWCs access to trainings, which is however, still not perfect:
Source: De Spiegelaere and Jagodzinski (2015) European and SE Works Councils 2015. Facts and Figures.
Please note that the Education Department of the ETUI provides tailor made trainign for EWCs. More information about the training can be found on the dedicated website www.ewc-training.eu
Old directive 94/45/EC
EWC Directive 94/45 did not mention training for EWC members. This is one of the most serious drawbacks of this regulation, especially compared to other EU acts dealing with employee representation such as the ‘SE Directive’. Therefore, negotiating provisions securing training opportunities for EWC members was purely a contractual affair. This weak positioning of training was reflected in a relatively low rate of EWC agreements mentioning an entitlement to education (28 per cent of all EWC agreements, both active and no longer valid – reported ETUI database on EWCs in 2006).
These two terms are used in the professional jargon to describe two categories of EWC agreement foreseen in the EWC Recast Directive 2009/38/EC. The so-called Article 13 Agreements are EWC agreements concluded on the basis of Article 13 of Directive 94/45/EC. This article refers to agreements in force and stipulates that EWC agreements concluded before the deadline for transposition of Directive 94/45 – that is, before 22.09.1996 – will remain valid also after this date. Article 13 granted the parties to the EWC agreement much more flexibility in terms of setting the rules of functioning of a EWC/alternative information and consultation procedures. After 22.09.1996 no further ‘Article 13 agreements’ could be concluded (until the entry into force of the Recast Directive 2009/38/EC). Nonetheless, already concluded ‘Article 13 agreements’ can be renegotiated/prolonged on the basis of Article 13 even after 22.09.1996. All new agreements establishing an EWC concluded after 22.09.1996 are referred to as ‘Article 6 agreements’, which means the negotiating parties need to respect minimum requirements laid down in the EWC Directive.
The Recast Directive 2009/38/EC made things even more complex by introducing another type of agreements: the so-called 'Art. 14' agreements. They are defined in Art. 14 of the Recast Directive as:
a) an agreement or agreements covering the entire workforce, providing for the transnational information and consultation of employees have been concluded pursuant to Article 13(1) of Directive 94/45/EC or Article 3(1) of Directive 97/74/EC, or where such agreements are adjusted because of changes in the structure of the undertakings or groups of undertakings;
(b) an agreement concluded pursuant to Article 6 of Directive 94/45/EC is signed or revised between 5 June 2009 and 5 June 2011.
Both types of agreements defined in Art. 14 are outside of the scope of the Directive (only with regard to obligations defined in the Directive).
The EWC Directive does not mention any substructures within the EWC apart from the offices of Chair and Select Committee (see also Question 23). The EWC is, nonetheless, not limited in its freedom to establish, for example, working groups. Such working groups exist in some EWCs and have the task of tackling specific issues, either on a regular basis or ad hoc matters that arise in the course of the functioning of the EWC (for example, the EWC at Gucci). Such subgroups present the EWC with reports and possible solutions, and are often equipped to work closely with the company management between the plenary sessions of the EWC.
The EWC Directive, under ‘Subsidiary requirements’, stipulates that ‘the EWC shall have the right to meet with the central management once a year, to be informed and consulted, on the basis of a report drawn up by the central management’. This provision states a normal frequency of meetings (in exceptional circumstances the EWC has to meet more often).
Despite the fact that Directive 94/45 speaks about only one meeting this statement should be considered solely as a minimal standard. Much research has shown that one EWC session a year is insufficient to enable this body to function effectively. The relationship between the frequency of meetings of an EWC and its efficacy is clear: the more often the EWC members meet the more effective they are in representing employee interests.
The experience of over 800 EWCs and many research projects proves a simple correlation: the more often an EWC meets during a year the greater its efficacy and the more important its role. The majority of EWCs (over 50 per cent) have only one annual session foreseen in their agreement, plus an extra meeting in cases of restructuring or other exceptional circumstances. Unfortunately for these EWCs they find it very difficult to make their meetings an effective instrument of employee representation and to go beyond merely fulfilling the formal obligation to have EWC sessions.