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The EU company law package: how it should be improved to strengthen workers’ rights and avoid abuse through cross-border company mobility

The proposed EU company law package, which was published in May 2018 by the European Commission, seeks to encourage cross-border company mobility while at the same time protecting stakeholder interests. The ETUI’s GOODCORP network of company law experts has identified three areas where the package needs to be revised in the interests of protecting workers’ rights and discouraging corporate abuse and makes thirteen specific recommendations for amendment. These areas include: improving worker involvement rights; strengthening procedures for discouraging abusive behaviour such as tax evasion; and reducing the potential for fraud through online company foundations.

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The revised Shareholder Rights Directive 2017: policy implications for workers

Shareholders Rights Directive PB 2018/02

The 2017 revised Shareholder Rights Directive gives shareholders a say on executive pay and requires institutional investors to improve shareholder engagement. The directive is thus designed to provide a counterweight to the increasingly dominant ‘shareholder’ model of corporate governance which has put the interests of firms’ shareholders ahead of other stakeholders, including their workers.  Drawing on the experience of the UK, Europe’s leading exponent of the shareholder model whose experience heavily influenced the Commission’s thinking, this brief analyses the workings of the directive, discusses its implications for worker’s rights and suggests how trade unions should respond.

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Tax justice in Europe: why does it matter for workers? (Policy Brief)

Policy Brief by Tove Maria Ryding

Tove Maria Ryding in cooperation with the ETUI's GoodCorp Expert Network casts light on the links between tax avoidance and how workers' voice be a countermeasure and a means to making companies more sustainable.

Tax avoidance by corporations is widespread in Europe and costs governments more than €70bn annually. This revenue loss, and the legal ramifications of strategies that multinational companies use to avoid paying taxes, starves public services of funding, limits the bargaining power of trade unions and undermines employee rights. This ETUI policy brief outlines the scale of the problem, describes some of the ways that corporations limit their tax liabilities, and suggests some practical solutions. The brief shows that corporations have a range of strategies for avoiding paying taxes, including: declaring themselves to be multinationals; use of ‘transfer pricing’ to shift sales from high to low tax jurisdictions; and concluding secret tax deals with governments. Wealthy individuals also have a number of accounting and legal tricks available to them to conceal their assets.

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Benchmarking Working Europe 2018 is out!

On the 20/03/2018 the annual report on socio-economic developments in the European Union in 2018 was published. The report is a common publication by the European Trade Union Institute and the European Trade Union Confederation published yearly since 2001 and features brief analyses, facts and figures as well as critical evaluation of developments in the EU.

This year's Benchmarking Working Europe focuses on whether the European Union is really on the path towards convergence.

Chapter 5 of the publication focuses on social policy-making and workers' representation.

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EWC Recast Directive: trade union demands and research evidence for making changes to legislative frameworks

At the ETUC annual conference on EWCs that took place on 17-18 October 2017 under the title 'EWC Directive Revision: Mission Impossible?' the ETUI presented two infographics summarising

1) trade union demands for changes to the legislative frameworks;

2) research evidence, facts, figures and findings concerning shortcomings and loopholes in the existing legal frameworks.

Infographic: the timeline of the revision/recast process of the EWC Directive

An overview infographic presenting milestones on the road to adopitn the EWC Recast Directive 2009/38/EC.

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Company restructuring across borders: with or without European Works Councils?

This policy brief takes as its starting point the fact that as soon as a company engages in European-level transnational restructuring, transnational information and consultation is needed to enable the social partners to consider the cross-border dynamic of the planned measures.

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EWC Recast Evaluation Infopack: publications by the ETUI

In the run-up to the official Evaluation Report by the European Commission expected in Autumn 2016 the debate on this topic is in full swing. In the last Expert Meeting organised by the European Commission on 23/06/2016 gathering representatives of national authorities (ministries) responsible for the implementation of the EWC Recast Directive as well as representatives of trade unions (political: ETUC, ETUFs and national unions; research: ETUI) and employers (BusinessEurope) final outcomes of a study completed by consultancy ICFI for the European Commission were presented.

The ETUI has been contributing to the debate with several publications providing robust facts and figures from various angles. We gather them for you in this 'EWC Recast Evaluation Infopack'.

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New book: 'Takeovers with or without worker voice: workers’ rights under the EU Takeover Bids Directive'

In its Workers’ rights in company law series the ETUI has just published (October 2016) a new book on takeovers and workers' rights, edited by Jan Cremers (University of Amsterdam) and Sigurt Vitols (ETUI).

Workers' rights in takeover bid directive

This book presents the results of a study of workers’ rights during company takeover situations in Europe. Takeovers are extremely important for workers because a change in ownership frequently leads to restructuring in the firm, including replacement of management, changed working conditions, increased work intensity and/or mass redundancies. It is therefore crucial that workers have strong rights to receive timely and full information about the planned takeover and to intervene at an early stage of the takeover process to protect their interests. The major conclusion of the book is that the EU Takeover Bids Directive needs to be revised, as it does not provide an adequate level of workers’ rights in its current form.

The study was carried out by the ETUI’s GOODCORP network of academic and trade union experts on corporate governance and company law. The book includes case studies of takeovers as well as analyses of national legal frameworks regulating takeovers and of transversal issues related to takeovers. The book is the first in a new ETUI book series on workers’ rights in company law.

The full version of the book is available for free download.

Individual chapters can be downloaded freely from the ETUI website.

ETUI, Brussels,

ISBN 978-2-87452-420-2,

ISBN 978-2-87452-421-9 (pdf)

20 years of EWC legislation in Europe

On the occassion of the 20th anniversary of entry into force of the EU legislation on European Works Councils the ETUI (Romuald Jagodziński) published two articles on this topic. Both give an overview of the developments, main current characterstics, challenges and a future outlook.

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Managers, BusinessEurope and the development of European Works Councils by J. Waddington, V. Pulignano and J. Turk

Copyright @ R.Jagodzinski 2016

The ETUI has just published a new Working Paper by Jeremy Waddington (ETUI and University of Manchester), Valeria Pulignano and Jeffrey Turk (University of Leuven), Thomas Swerts (University of Antwerp) on a very topical question of assessing the operation of European Works Councils.

The Working Papper's relevance is (at least) twofold:

1) it presents and explains management's views on the effectiveness, usefulness, roles and operation of European Works Councils (research on management's perspective on EWCs is scarce and rare);

2) it represents a timely contribution to the ongoing debate on EWCs preceeding the European Commission's evaluation report on the implementation of the directive (and its possible review/recast/revision) expected in autumn 2016;

The publication can be downloaded freely from:

http://www.etui.org/Publications2/Working-Papers/Managers-BusinessEurope-and-the-development-of-European-Works-Councils

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Evaluating the EWC Recast Directive: "Too little, too late" ETUI Report by S. De Spiegelaere

In 2009, the long awaited (since 1999) Recast Directive on European Works Councils (EWCs) was adopted. Its most important goals were to (1) improve the effectiveness of EWCs and (2) increase the amount of EWCs. In 2016, the implementation of the Recast Directive is to be evaluated by the European Commission that prepares its own report on the topic. This report feeds into the evaluation debate by building on data from analysis of 1200+ EWC agreements stored in the EWC Database managed by the ETUI.

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'EWC and SE works councils 2016. Facts and figures' now available also in German, French, Italian and Polish

The ETUI's recent publication 'EWC and SE works councils in 2015. Facts and figures' (which is part of the 'EWC Recast evaluation infopack') has just been translated into German, French Italian and Polish.

All versions are now available digitally for a free download:

Alternatively they can be also downloaded from the ETUI website.

Workers' representation in ETUI's annual Benchmarking Working Europe

Publication date : 2017

Number of pages : 75

Chapitre+4.pdf 4,49 MB

This 2017 edition of Benchmarking working Europe focuses on the question 'overcoming cleavages across the EU?'. It analyses in four chapters and with the help of 58 visual graphs latest trends and outcomes of European policies in the areas of macro-economics, wages and collective bargaining, labour markets and, last but not least, social dialogue and workers' participation.

The Benchmarking working Europe 2017 demonstrates that the European Union is experiencing increasing social divergences and underlines the need for new policies that can generate higher living standards for all, based on fair integration and upwards convergence.

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SE Companies: Facts and Figures 2017 available now

Anders Carlson, the chief tracker of the Workers' Participation Europe Network (formerly known as SEEurope Network) monitoring the developments in the area of SE companies across Europe has just published updated facts and figures on the topic.

They can be downloaded in form of a pdf presentation.

When using the data please refer to it as A. Carslon (2017) SE Companies in 2017. Workers' Participation Europe Network, ETUI.

Strikes in Europe: a visual strike map

 

Recently the ETUI's senior researcher Kurt Vandaele published updated information on strikes in Europe.

Strike activity in Europe

This visual strike map shows for most European countries, since the year 2000:

    • the development of 'days-not-worked' due to industrial action per 1,000 employees

and the participation in industrial action per 1,000 employees.

 

Move forward in the interactive map by clicking on the forward or backward arrows or on individual countries to see detailed information per member state.

The interactive map is available in several formats:

Further questions and explanations to the data and strike activity can be found here.

'The right and duty of European Works Councils to report back to the workforce: broad uptake, little specificity', by Stan De Spiegelaere & Romuald Jagodzinski (ETUI)

This policy brief examines if and how the reformulated obligation in the Recast European Works Council Directive to report back found its way into EWC agreements by looking at survey data, results of large-scale agreement analysis and by providing examples of clauses in which this obligation is reflected.

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EWC Training: 'How to organise your communication networks', by Bruno Demaître (ETUI), Romuald Jagodzinski (ETUI), Sjef Stoop (FNV Formaat)

 

This second in a series of manuals for European Workers' Representatives explains in an easy-to-read format how European Works Council (EWC) members can organise and manage their communications network. It gives tips and tricks for better information flows and provides examples of best practices in several EWCs. The manual is available in 8 different languages.

 Hard copies can be ordered free of charge: Bruno Demaître

New ETUI book: European Works Councils and SE Works Councils in 2015. Facts and figures

Stan De Spiegelaere (ETUI) and Romuald Jagodzinski (ETUI)

Publication date : 2015

Number of pages : 47

Author(s) : Stan De Spiegelaere (ETUI) and Romuald Jagodzinski (ETUI)

In 2016 it will be 20 years since the first European Works Councils (EWC) directive came into force in the EU. In the same year, the European Commission is planning an evaluation of the EWC recast directive that will undoubtedly lead to debate on the need for further review of European regulation of EWCs. The year 2015 also marks the fifteenth anniversary of adoption of the EU directive on workers’ involvement in the European Company (SE).

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Book poster: 'Variations on a theme? The implementation of the EWC Recast Directive'

Poster promoting the ETUI book on implementation of the EWC Recast Directive 2009/38/EC.

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New book on European Works Councils: 'Variations on a theme? The implementation of the EWC Recast Directive'

Publication date : 2015

Number of pages : 199

Edited by : Romuald Jagodzinski (ETUI)

Contributions by: Jan Cremers, Filip Dorssemont, Sylvaine Laulom, Pascale Lorber and Romuald Jagodziński

Since 1994, the EU has established mechanisms for information and consultation procedures for workers in transnational companies (European Works Councils Directive 94/45/EC). In 2009, the EWC Directive was reviewed and amended (Recast EWC Directive 2009/38/EC). The year 2016 will see the formal conclusion of a new evaluation procedure designed to ascertain whether the improvements of 2009 have had any impact on teh EWC's conditions of operation and whether any further amendements should be considered.

This book assesses in detail the ways in which key improvements brought about by the 2009 EWC Recast Directive have been implemented in national legislation.

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Book poster: 'Long-term investment and the Sustainable Company: a stakeholder perspective. Vol. III'

Poster promoting the Sustainable Company vol. III book edited by Sigurt Vitols.

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Long-term investment and the Sustainable Company: a stakeholder perspective. Vol. III

Publication date: 2015

Number of pages: 237

Edited by: Sigurt Vitols (ETUI)

The onset of the Great Financial Crisis in 2007/8 has triggered a widespread debate about the causes and the social and environmental consequences of the lack of long-term investment around the world. This volume, the third in the Sustainable Company book series produced by the GOODCORP network of academic and trade union experts on corporate governance, presents a ‘stakeholder’ approach to the problem. The analysis and policy prescriptions presented here go beyond mainstream economic analysis by highlighting the need for major changes in the way resources are saved, distributed and invested in the interests of a sustainable and just economy and society.

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Two new studies on EWCs from the Eurofund: Linking I&C levels and EWC developments before, during and after the crisis

The Eurofound recently published two topical and important pieces of research that contribute to a better understanding of new (and old) challenges that EWCs face:

'Linking information and consultation procedures at local and European level' by Filip Dorssemont and Peter Kerckhofs

and

'European Works Council developments before, during and after the crisis' by Peter Kerckhofs
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Benchmarking Working Europe 2015

Published every year, the report analyses the state of working Europe explaining with the aid of statistics and graphs the main trends in terms of Europe’s macro-economic situation, its labour market development, the situation of wages and collective bargaining, and worker participation.

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Conference Paper: 'Are European fundamental rights to information and consultation getting diluted by national implementations? Study on implementation of European Works Councils Directive 2009/38/EC in the field of access to justice'

By Romuald Jagodzinski

The ETUI continues its research on EWCs' access to justice. During the 2014 Industrial Relations in Europe Conference (IREC) conference 'IREC 2014 - The future of the European Social Model – New perspectives for industrial relations, social and employment policy in Europe?' held at the Eurofound in Dublin on 12-14 September 2014 a paper by Romuald Jagodziński discussing implementation of sanctions for violation of EWC laws across Europe was presented.

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New book by the ETUI: 'The outsourcing challenge. Organizing workers across fragmented production networks'

Production networks in many sectors have become increasingly fragmented. Cutting labour costs by lowering pay, increasing work intensity and/or shifting flexibility costs to workers are just some of the motivations for outsourcing. But it can also be used to circumvent employee representation and collective bargaining systems within companies, and labour market regulations in general. Though such intentions may not drive the bulk of outsourcing decisions, any change in company boundaries is likely to impact employment, working conditions and industrial relations in the value chain.

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Policy Brief: 'Transnational flexibility and ‘shareholder capitalism’: a case for extending EWC competences to cover flexibility' by Valeria Pulignano

Flexibility within multinational companies (MNCs) has become increasingly transnational in character. Strategies of inter-firm benchmarking, outsourcing and cross-national or internal ‘coercive comparison’ are increasingly used by MNCs to enhance local performance by placing plants in competition with each other, forcing subsidiaries to gradually raise their level of flexibility, and eroding employees’ working conditions.

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Policy Brief: 'Working in multinationals and domestic firms compared - myths and realities' by Maarten van Klaveren and Kea Tijdens (AIAS, Amsterdam), Denis Gregory (TURU, Oxford)

The three authors of this policy brief investigated whether multinational enterprises (MNEs) offer better terms and conditions for employment than domestic (non-MNE) firms. Using data from the WageIndicator web survey (www.wageindicator.org), the researchers compared wages, working conditions and job quality, working hours, training possibilities, and industrial relations at the workplace in MNEs and domestic companies.

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Policy Brief: 'Implementation of enforcement provisions of the European Works Councils Recast Directive: are sanctions really ‘effective, proportionate and dissuasive’?

Policy Brief by Romuald Jagodziński (ETUI)

Date of publication: 2014

This policy brief by the ETUI shows the importance of proper implementation of sanctions for the overall efficiency and implementation of the goals of the EWC Recast Directive. By comparing national sanctions with the criteria of effectiveness, proportionality and dissuasiveness set by the EWC Recast Directive it highlights the excessive discrepancies between national regimes and the EU legislation. On this basis it formulates some concrete policy recommendations for the Commission’s future implementation report on this Directive.

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Policy Brief: 'Collective labour law under attack: how anti-crisis measures dismantle workers' collective rights'

Policy Brief by Isabelle Schömann (ETUI)

Date of publication: 2014

This policy brief by Isabelle Schömann (ETUI) demonstrates how the EU's financial and economic crisis has been used to attack European collective labour law. Amendments to the Lisbon Treaty, changes in the EU's economic governance and austerity measures have led to drastic national labour law reforms which undermine fundamental social rights.

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Field manual - Scenario building

This guide builds on the ETUI's Worker Participation 2030 project which looked at the future of worker participation under four different scenarios. It is a manual for people who want to know more about scenario-building and are considering setting up their own scenario project. It has been designed as a compact and easily accessible overview of the method of scenario building and the different steps entailed in the process.The field manual is currently translated into German and French.

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La participation des travailleurs à l’horizon 2030 – Quatre scénarios

The scenario publication has now been translated into French (also available in EN and DE).

Cette publication s’inscrit dans le cadre d’un exercice ambitieux : se projeter dans le futur, plus précisément en l’an 2030. Quatre scénarios alternatifs explorent les perspectives à long terme et l'évolution du contexte de la participation des travailleurs sous divers angles en Europe.

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The Sustainable Company: a new approach to corporate governance

For the past two decades corporate governance reform in Europe has been guided by the ‘shareholder value’ model of the firm. That model is now discredited as one of the major causes of the financial and economic crisis. In this book an alternative approach to corporate governance is presented by members of the GOODCORP network of researchers and trade unionists. This new approach, entitled the Sustainable Company, draws on both traditional ‘stakeholder’ models of the firm and newer concerns with sustainability.

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