In 1994, the Council of the European Union Council issued a Directive to establish the European Works Council (EWC) designed to inform and consult with employees within companies with a minimum of 1000 workers and at least 150 employees from two other member nations. European…
countries with central management of large multinational companies to discuss issues as complex as worker rights and any plans the company may be considering that would affect workers. Meetings also allow employees of one country to share information and experiences with colleagues from other nations.
“Employee participation at a European level became a reality with the introduction of the European Works Council Directive” (Fitzgerald, 2004: 1). The purpose of the Councils: to provide workers within large multinational corporations, through their designated representatives, a direct line of communication to top management. With communication as key, various national councils insure that workers in all countries are provided accurate information about plans and policies of the transnational companies who employ them, and ensure worker representatives of established unions and national works councils the opportunity to consult amongst each other and develop a common response before policies and plans are implemented. Beyond these goals, three main views about why works councils primarily exist include benign goals as stated to improve communication and less benign goals of worker control over bargaining and negotiations and input into company policy when market failures occur that may negatively impact their employment.
Based purely on description of purpose, the formation of the councils appear a valid and reasonable response to the advent and power of multinational corporations—impersonal behemoths larger than life with little sense of employee conditions or problems experienced at lower management levels. The success of the councils as regards employee representation is, as might be expected, mixed. This paper examines the reality of the success or failure of the councils, and to what degree they have advanced the cause of worker representation.
Fitzgerald (2004) points out that the EWC Directive in its final form was viewed as a watered-down version of ...
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