Unanimous call on the Council of the EU: Strengthen the EWC Directive now!

By Staff
4 Min Read

IndustriAll Europe together with all the European trade union organisations calls on the Council of the EU to ensure that the European Works Councils Directive is strengthened and not weakened.

Since the European Commissions proposal to revise the EWC Directive, released in January, EU policymakers have been considering how to make European Works Councils’ rights truly effective. IndustriAll Europe welcomed what was a long-awaited EU initiative and praised the work achieved by the European Parliament. With the Council of the EU working towards the adoption of its general approach, industriAll Europe – together with all the European trade union organisations – rings the alarm bell against any attempt at weakening EWCs instead of strengthening them.

Isabelle Barthès, industriAll Europe Deputy General Secretary, said: “Four EWCs out of five are either not consulted properly or not consulted at all on transnational matters which may affect workers! IndustriAll Europe is flabbergasted by a reality which is miles away from both the letter and the spirit for the European Works Council Directive, even 30 years after its initial adoption.”

EWCs are a key tool for anticipating and managing the many transformations our industries are confronted with. Without quality dialogue in companies, we will not be able to overcome the multiple crises we face and build a robust European industry that deliver quality jobs. Unfortunately, the current Directive does not deliver on the obligations it should. A stronger directive is urgently needed.”

Despite overwhelming evidence and multiple research findings pointing to the shortcomings of the EWC Directive, conservative forces and European employers’ organisations continue to deny the need for EU action to improve this major workers’ right. Too often in practice, EWC information is inadequate and consultation remains ineffective as it takes place too late when company decisions are already taken. Interpretation of key directive’s provisions continues to prove difficult, enforcing rights is still challenging and dissuasive and proportionate sanctions are lacking in a majority of cases.

In a new joint statement IndustriAll Europe together with the ETUC and the European Trade Union Federations raised the following points aimed at debunking myths and flawed perceptions on eight key issues:

  1. The need for better enforcement of EWC rights, including a right to request preliminary injunction
  2. The need for an inclusive definition of transnational matters
  3. The need for reinforced consultation procedures to secure quality decision-making
  4. The need for a clear framework on confidentiality
  5. The need for EWCs’ access to justice and complementary role that mediation could play
  6. The need for resources enabling EWCs to fulfil their duties to be secured
  7. The need for exempting companies from applying the EWC Directive to be removed
  8. The need for a clear recognition of trade unions as representative organisation of workers’ interests

With one voice, all European trade union organisations: “call on the Council not to be blinded by false arguments and to finally ensure that European Works Councils are given sufficient and enforceable rights and have the necessary resources to exercise them. If companies operate on a European and global scale, we must also Europeanise workers’ representation at the very least. EWCs are a glowing example of the Europeanisation of industrial relations”

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