INFORMING AND CONSULTING EMPLOYEES
Draft Directive establishing a general framework for informing and consulting employees in the European Community.
||Article 137(2)EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
||Trade and Industry|
|Basis of consideration:
||EM of 16 November 2001
|Previous Committee Report:
||None; but see (22445) 9305/01: HC 152-i (2001-02), paragraph 25 (18 July 2001)
|To be discussed in Council:
||3 December 2001|
||Legally and politically important
||Cleared, but request to be kept informed
13.1 We last considered this proposal in July,
on the basis of an official letter which reported that the UK
had agreed to join the consensus for a political agreement on
the basis of a revised text tabled by the Swedish Presidency.
On that occasion, we cleared the document, but asked to kept informed
as the draft Directive progressed through its final stages.
13.2 The Minister of State for Employment Relations
and the Regions (Mr Alan Johnson) has now sent us a copy of the
common position text, together with an Explanatory Memorandum
which addresses the amendments adopted by the European Parliament
at its second reading in October.
The proposed European Parliament amendments
13.3 In his helpful Explanatory Memorandum, the
Minister lists the amendments as follows:
"New Recital 22a. Member
States should take measures to guarantee that employee representatives
are elected by employees or designated by employees' organizations
only and have a minimum, renewable term of office.
"New Recital 26a. 'More stringent, dissuasive
penalties' and specific judicial procedures applicable in the
case of decisions taken in 'serious breach' of Directive obligations
must be established.
"New Article 2(ea). A new definition of 'social
partners', which term is used in an amendment to Article 5 and
a new Article 9a.
"Article 2(f). An expanded definition of the
"Article 2(g). An expanded definition of the
term 'consultation' so that it must take place 'during the planning
stage' and allow influence to be exerted on the decision-making
"New Article 3(3a). A new requirement to 'foster
and promote social dialogue' in small and medium-sized enterprises
who are outside the scope of the directive.
"Article 4(2)(a) has been amended so that the
coverage of information and consultation is extended to investment,
production, sales, structure, strategic plans, changes to organisational
structure and market developments.
"Article 4(4). An amendment consequential upon
the amendment to Article 2(f).
"New Article 4(4a) and (4b). A new paragraph
requiring the postponement of decision at the request of employee
representatives in situations where the implementation of that
decision would have significant adverse consequences for employees.
"Article 5. Changes restricting the use of voluntary
information and consultation arrangements that management and
the workforce may agree upon.
"Article 7. Increased protection and rights
for employee representatives.
"New Article 9a. A new provision requiring Member
States to examine in co-operation with the 'social partners' appropriate
ways to implement the principles in the directive in public administrations.
"Deletion of Article 10 so that the transitional
arrangements for firms with between 50-150 employees would no
The Government's view
13.4 The Minister comments:
"The Government is opposed
to amending the Directive in the way the Parliament proposed.
The Government believes that the common position agreed in June
strikes the right balance in terms of offering flexibility in
the implementation of the basic obligations. The Parliament's
amendments tend to add to the basic obligations and detract from
13.5 The Minister also tells us that the Council
is expected to reject the proposed amendments. This rejection
will trigger the conciliation process. It is not clear when this
process will be completed.
13.6 We thank the Minister for keeping us
informed of developments in negotiations over this controversial
measure. We ask that he continue to do so. Meanwhile, we clear