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What came out of the negotiations on revision of the EWC Directive?

  • The revision of the EWC Directive involves a classic compromise.
    • On the one hand, in comparison with the existing acquis the new text of the Directive contains substantial clarifications and improvements on a number of important points, which in practice will yield positive benefits, not only in new establishments, but also in the everyday operations of EWCs.
    • The intensive lobbying of the European employers’ federations, which continued right up to the wire, contributed to watering down what were originally more far-reaching plans. As a result, there was little scope for a number of central trade union demands.
  • It is therefore not surprising that the innovations in the new EWC Directive, which, after a two-year implementation phase, will become part of national labour law in spring 2011, do not correspond to the trade unions’ wish list.
  • Among the improvements in the new EWC Directive we may list the following in particular:
    • the situation has been improved as regards EWC foundation
    • the trade unions have been granted a more prominent role in implementing the EWC Directive
    • there are new regulations on the composition of the Special Negotiating Body
    • Work in the EWC should become more effective due to a number of innovations, including:
      • the setting up of a select committee in the EWC as standard
      • a broadening of skills and know-how by means of EW C members’ right to training
      • the creation of a collective mandate for representation for the EWC
    • The provisions on information and consultation are formulated more precisely
    • The EWC is granted the right to renegotiation in the event of structural changes at the enterprise
    • Better coordination of workers’ participation at European and national level
  • The following central ETUC demands were not met, either wholly or partly, by the revision of the EWC revision:
    • Weak provision for sanctions for violations of the Directive
    • Limitations on application of the Directive remain (thresholds, ‘tendential protection’ [so-called ‘tendential’ establishments are establishments in which, owing to their particular purpose, the provisions of the Works Constitution Act are only partly applicable: ‘ Tendenzschutz’ is the special protection granted by the Works Constitution Act to such establishments])
    • The negotiating deadline in the case of EWC foundations remains long, as before
    • No second annual regular meeting
    • The redefinition of transnationality does not clarify matters unambiguously
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