ETUC calls for a directive to strengthen European Works Councils

Serious defects in current legislation allow multinational companies to circumvent workers’ information and consultation rights. The ETUC is adamant that these can only be addressed with a legally binding instrument. The ETUC backs the call by the European Parliament on the EU Commission to revise the European Works Council Directive now.

The ETUC is calling for a directive to bring about much-needed improvements in three key areas:

  • Enforcement and access to justice.
  • Clear definitions of key EWC rights.
  • Strengthening the role of the Trade Union expert.

Isabelle Schömann, ETUC Deputy General Secretary, said:

“The rights of European Works Councils (EWCs) are at a crossroads. Following the adoption by a large majority of the European Parliament’s resolution calling for the revision of the EWC Directive to strengthen EWC rights and enable workers to effectively exercise their - information and consultation rights, the first and second stage consultation by the Commission has come to an end.

“The ETUC showed early on that the 2009 EWC Directive is not fit for purpose. Among the main gaps are unclear definitions of key rights such as information, consultation, transnationality, confidentiality, as well as non-dissuasive sanctions and ineffective access to justice, to name but a few, which mean that EWC information and consultation rights only exist on paper. The ETUC therefore advocates for the workers’ EWC rights to be strengthened by means of a directive. This is the clear and transparent response that the ETUC, with the unanimous support of its affiliates, has given to the Commission in the two-phase process.

“Clearly, powerful multinationals must not be allowed to steamroll workers’ information and consultation rights. Democracy at work cannot be treated as an optional add-on for managements.

“While reaffirming its full commitment to social dialogue, the ETUC is convinced of the urgent need to act in order to ensure legal certainty and legal predictability for all parties. Furthermore, given the importance, timing and scope of the initiative, a legislative proposal by the Commission in the form of a directive remains the most suitable instrument to achieve substantial improvements of the rights of EWCs still in this legislature period. The ETUC urges the Commission to come forward with a legislative proposal to improve the rights of EWCs and their enforcement.”


Note: for further detail, see the ETUC response to the second-phase consultation of Social Partners under Article 154 TFEU on a possible revision of the European (linked).