Recovery will only be fair and inclusive if social safety nets are provided for all workers. We will not accept a recovery that increases inequalities between workers. For this, companies must commit to genuine social dialogue. Once again, we call on the European Commission and EU Member States to help ensure that our rights are respected.
Luc Triangle, General Secretary of industriAll European Trade Union, speaking at the ETUC’s annual EWC conference taking place today, reiterated demands to EU policymakers to reinforce social dialogue and worker involvement in company decisions.
As companies face the twin challenge of economic recovery and transition to green and digital economies, genuine worker involvement is crucial. A strong workers’ voice in company decisions is the best guarantee that recovery is fair, inclusive, and sustainable. For this, the rights of workers’ representatives must be strengthened and compliance with existing rights be ensured.
Well before company decisions are taken, workers’ representatives at any workplace across Europe must have:
- timely access to meaningful and comprehensive up-to-date information about the likely impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the company’s economic performance, on jobs, working conditions, health and safety policies;
- enough time and resources to run in-depth assessments of the information provided, with the support of experts, in order to work on alternatives to redundancies, closures, and any other measure that could negatively impact workers’ interests;
- the genuine opportunity to discuss those alternatives with relevant decision-makers, including top management and board members (where they exist), who must provide a well-reasoned response to the proposed alternatives;
- the guarantee that non-compliance with EU and national legislation on workers’ rights to information, consultation and participation leads to effective sanctions, including the suspension of management decisions until workers’ rights are properly respected.
1.5 million workers have already lost their jobs since COVID-19 hit Europe in spring. With plans for massive job cuts announced every day, negotiated solutions that ensure a fair and socially responsible management of restructuring processes must become the norm. And social dialogue must drive the recovery. Starting at company level, where trade union and worker representatives must have the possibility to verify that public support schemes are used for future-proof strategies that lead to quality and safe jobs.
Regrettably, reality confronts us with a much gloomier picture. Restructuring plans are too often presented as a ‘fait accompli’ to workers, with no other option than redundancies. Social dialogue meetings with trade union and worker representatives are called off using travel bans and social distancing requirements as an excuse. Unilateral decisions on new working conditions disregard basic workers’ rights. Public support is misused to support purely short-term, financial strategies that neither support the green nor the digital transitions.
Luc Triangle stated:
“The aim of the recovery plan is to avoid fundamental disturbance of our economies. So clearly, the best way to tackle large-scale restructuring is to avoid it! But we must be prepared and provide solutions for the millions of European workers whose jobs will substantially change, if not disappear, in the coming months.”
“Recovery will only be fair and inclusive if social safety nets are provided for all workers, including young workers, women, precarious workers, workers along the supply chain. We will not accept a recovery that increases inequalities between workers. Nobody must be left behind. For this, companies must commit to genuine social dialogue with local, national and European works councils and trade union representatives.”
“It is a worker’s fundamental right to be informed, consulted and to be involved in decisions that affect his or her health, working conditions and job. Once again, we call on the European Commission and EU Member States to help ensure that our rights are respected.”