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How will the work of the EWC be made more effective?

  • There are a number of innovations that will make the work of the EWC more effective. For example, the new Directive now lays down that an agreement on founding an EWC must also provide for the establishment of a select committee of up to five members as standard, which will conduct the EWC’s day to day business and is supposed to facilitate the coordination and greater efficiency of regular EWC work, as well as the fastest possible information and consultation in exceptional circumstances.
  • The provisions on cross-border information and consultation of employees and their representatives are formulated much more precisely: it was clarified that the opinion of the EWC shall be sought before a decision has been taken and not merely before implementation of a corporate decision and the information given to the EWC should refer to the planned measures and should not concern what is already known or has already been decided.
  • The situation in the case of founding an EWC has been improved. For that purpose central managements have to furnish all parties with details on the structure of the undertaking and on the workforce required for the commencement of negotiations. It may be expected that this necessary clarification will in future contribute to avoiding possible disputes on this point. In the past disagreements had to be fought out before the ECJ on several occasions. Nevertheless, there will still be no obligation to give notification of mergers or takeovers that, as structural changes, would possibly give rise to renegotiation of EWC agreements.
  • Revised arrangements as regards composition of the Special Negotiating Body: the mandatory number of members of the Special Negotiating Body shall in future accord with the number of employees in each member state, with one seat for every 10 per cent of the total number of employees per member state or a fraction of this. A threshold originally envisaged in the draft for the revised directive that would have ruled out EWC representation for employees from smaller establishments was avoided by the European Parliament’s decision.
  • The skills and know-how of EWC members will be broadened by a new right to education and training without loss of pay stemming directly from EWC membership and going beyond national entitlements to work release and training.
  • Clarifications concerning coordination of workers’ participation at European and national level: appropriate provisions are to be applied in order to guarantee that employees at different levels do not receive different information at different times on one and the same subject. If measures are planned that could result in substantial changes in work organisation or employment contracts the process of information should take place at the same time at the level of individual states and in the EWC. The respective competences and scope of action of workers’ representatives should be taken into account here. Certainly, legal rights to interest representation at national and local level shall be undiminished. An employer cannot, for example, appeal to different regulations in the EWC agreement in order to announce his decision later than provided for under national law.
  • The EWC will also be assigned a collective representative mandate which will be advantageous particularly within the framework of legal action.
  • Members of the EWC shall explicitly retain the right to inform employees and workforces of establishments and undertakings concerning the contents and results of the EWC’s activities. Building on that, communication between the EWC and national organs of workers’ representation should improve.
All Frequent Questions on the recast EWC directive (2009/38/EC)