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2nd transnational EWC Seminar – Prepared for Change

Making yourself fit for big challenges

Group management is under obligation to inform and consult with European Works Councils (EWC) on planned restructuring measures. Although EWC bodies do not have a right to co-determination, possibilities for employee representatives to influence restructuring processes can open up in practice.

EWC Seminar “Prepared for Change”
The seminar took place in Esher, Great Britain, on 28-30 November 2016. In order to be able to continuously work in the project, representatives of the same companies invited for the first seminar in Vienna were also invited to this second seminar. Still also a new dynamic should be developed, for what reason EWC representatives of two further companies were included. A maximum of 4 members from the respective EWC team were to participate in the seminar.
EWC members from the following companies travelled to London for the second transnational seminar: DHL, Flowserve, TNT, Novartis, Deutsche Telekom, Raiffeisen Bank International. The participants came from Austria, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Poland and Spain.

Self-understanding of European Works Councils
In order to be able to face the company management in restructuring measures, it is important that the EWC team itself is well-prepared. A clear division of competences, good communication, teamwork and a common self-understanding constitute part of this necessity.
During the seminar, four types of European Works Councils were addressed: EWC bodies were distinguished between symbolic, service providing, project-oriented and participation-oriented EWCs. Based on provided criteria, the participants discussed within their respective teams, how they would ascribe themselves. This exercise served as first reflection of the existing EWC work.
In a next step, the participants developed a vision of how they would like to work in the future. Along certain questions, they planned which methods they would like to keep up and which ones they would like to change within their team groups. The aim of this exercise was to determine what would be necessary to implement these changes.

Communication
Communication is also of vital importance in and for EWC teams. The communication networks of the respective EWC teams were drafted and analysed by means of exercises and sociograms.
In a first step, the analysis primarily focussed on internal actors. How (well) do the EWC members communicate among themselves, how with the substitute members? Is there a steering committee, are there working groups and how does exchange happen? Who has contact to central management/local management/supervisory board/…? Is there exchange with the local works councils and the employees? How does cooperation with the trade unions look like?
In a second step, the focus was placed on external actors. Herein, politicians, the media, external experts, lawyers, but also customers played a role.

Teamwork and Democracy
The principles of democracy, roles and teamwork were addressed with a practical exercise: As a given assignment, the EWC members had to build a tower as high as possible in a short time. The examples demonstrated the importance of a clear division of responsibilities and roles during a project and that the persons concerned must be able to fulfil and to relate to these tasks. One of these roles is steering.

Subsequently, an exchange of experience between the different EWC members on their practical work took place. Different communication and structural models were discussed. On the basis of their respective EWC agreements, the participants analysed, how they could frame their EWC body democratically, but still be capable of acting.
Outlook
At the third transnational EWC seminar the focus will rest on strategies, the development of perspectives and future scenarios. The participants are to deal with perspectives of restructuring and shall be enabled to develop alternatives. Also, options for action, if the EWC is not informed by the company management will be discussed. The seminar titled “Strategically into the future” will take place in Amsterdam from 24-26 April 2017.

 

Image: Inge Zimmermann-Probst  / pixelio.de

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