More democracy at work

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13/07/2021 News

Germany: Board-level representation under threat

Whereas in 2015 all 30 supervisory boards of DAX companies had employee representatives, in September a quarter of the future 40 DAX supervisory boards could be without employee representatives.

28/06/2021 News

Germany adopts bill for mandatory quota for women on company boards

The German Bundesrat approved the bill on female representation in management roles. It requires firms with over 2,000 employees to have at least one woman and at least one man on their management boards if the body has more than three members.

10/06/2021 News

The history of Democracy at Work in Germany and future perspectives

Alexander Hagelüken, editor-in-chief of the economy dossier of the German Süddeutsche Zeitung, lays out the evolution of Democracy at work and what we can expect in the future.

03/06/2021 News

Discussions about Human Rights Due Diligence in North Rhine-Westphalia

Representatives from the European Commission, business, science and civil society discussed whether a European supply chain law would be more of an opportunity or ballast for Europe as a business location.

Topics

Topics

European Works Councils

Around 10 million workers have the right to information and consultation on company decisions at European level through their EWCs. The current EU legislation presents fundamental weaknesses. The ETUC calls for substantial improvements of the EWC directive.

Information, consultation & participation ​

Since its early days, European integration also included a commitment to the right for workers to be involved in company decision-making. Today Democracy at work is a fundamental value and a guiding principle of the EU.

Company Law & corporate governance

The fragmented provisions for workers’ information, consultation and participation rights for different company forms across the EU is likely to lead to a race to the bottom of worker involvement. The ETUC calls for a European minimum standard for worker involvement applying to all European company legal forms and to cross-border restructurings regulated at the European level.

Due diligence & subcontracting​

Complex corporate structures and supply & subcontracting chains enable parent companies to circumvent human rights, social & environmental standards. The current legal framework doesn’t bring about enforcement and leads to a race to the bottom in terms of human rights, environmental and social standards. We need to empower workers to fight against violations of human rights.

Insolvency

Across Europe, around 200.000 firms go bankrupt every year, leading to 1.7m job losses. Many of these bankruptcy cases are cross-border, affecting workers from a wide range of EU countries.

Restructuring

Corporate restructuring takes place every day. Too often it’s driven by short-term interests of the capital market and shareholders. These processes risk to have negative impacts for workers: they may experience worse working conditions, lower payment or get laid off.

What’s Democracy at work?

It means democratic involvement and participation of workers and oversight in their workplace. It is a founding European principle, anchored in fundamental rights to join a trade union, to represent and defend workers’ interests – the right to information, consultation and participation, about social dialogue & collective bargaining. Growing globalisation of exchange, exacerbated flexibilization of the labour markets and also the latest recessions have increasingly jeopardised these rights.

The ETUC is fighting for workers’ representatives to be informed and consulted, to have meaningful and timely discussions with management at all relevant levels and to be actively involved in the decision-making process of their companies or organisations before any important decisions are made, respecting EU rules and national provisions.

Why more democracy at work?

Workers & trade unions are keen actors of any undertaking. As such they are entitled to be informed & consulted about activities and economic and employment situations with the aim to strengthen workers’ working conditions and working environment. 

Lessons learnt from both crises clearly show the importance of and the urgent need for initiatives to strengthen democracy at work and collective bargaining. Worker involvement and social dialogue are a necessity and have always proven to be key for a sustainable and long-term recovery.

During the 2008 financial crisis, businesses with stronger worker involvement cut far less jobs and performed better economically. During the corona pandemic, workers in companies with strong worker involvement faced fewer negative consequences from the crisis. Stronger involvement of workers within companies and public services directly improve working conditions, economic performances, labour rights and sustainability.

During the 2020 pandemic, worker involvement makes the difference as to securing safe workplaces while maintaining  economic activities, to organise telework arrangements in containment times, to fight for socially acceptable restructuring when business restructure, layoff or shut down.

It’s unacceptable that some business still do not comply with workers and trade unions’ rights to be  involved in strategic decision-making. It is time to put democracy at work on the political agenda to achieve its full potential. For a more social, inclusive and fair Europe!