Managing your EWC Effectively

All over Europe, thousands of colleagues are discussing company developments at their European Works Council. While our specialist interpreting teams keep up with technology and terminology, participants need to keep up with trends and training to maximize the effectiveness of their EWC.

A European Works Council is a valuable way for senior management and employee representatives to consult on major developments. This interaction though requires considerable investment including venue hire, travel expenses, interpreters and time spent away from normal operations. It makes sense to ensure both the management team and the employee representatives are equipped to make the most of their meetings. Indeed the EWC directive itself indicates members have the right to receive training and expert advice to help them carry out their work and ensure that consultation is effective and efficient.

Lisa Wilson, an Interpreting Manager at RWS Language Solutions comments, “Currently we are seeing a strong trend for companies to offer additional training around their current EWC meeting, typically adding on an extra day at the start or end of the existing event. It works well as the interpreting team know the delegates and company terminology and all the technical equipment is already on-site, a considerable saving on the costs of an additional meeting. We can also translate any documentation alongside the main meeting presentations allowing clients to benefit from volume discounts using our specialist translation software. We hear very positive feedback from the delegates who appreciate this training; this is good for everyone involved as it makes processes more effective.”

Philip Sack, Director of ProVizon, a provider of bespoke EWC training, has been advising companies on this area since 2005 and recommends, “An agreed training programme should cover the areas appropriate to each individual European Works Council and those needs will change over time. It’s important to work with your chosen trainer to design a highly interactive programme so that participants find it interesting and stimulating, and can put into practice what they are learning.”

Training might cover a number of areas – a newly created European Works Council or an existing EWC with several newly elected representatives may need instruction on the purpose of the EWC; the roles of the employee chair, select committee and individual representatives and how they carry these out effectively. Additional background training might include looking in detail at the timings and information needed for the information and consultation process including the use of expert advisers or the legal background to the EWC directive, national legislation or their own EWC agreement.

Training might be around practical points about how to conduct a meeting well. A well-organized meeting will see the chair of the employee representatives come to the meeting with a prepared agenda, which gives time to allow all countries to talk about developments and raise questions. This is then used to create a summary of points and questions for management who in turn need to allocate time to consider the points raised and come back with meaningful responses and actions. Following on from the meeting, participants need to know how to handle confidential information and how to make the most of reporting back to employees and local works councils to raise awareness and interest amongst the wider workforce.

Training might also include updates for example changes to the EWC brought about by corporate restructuring or how the meeting might be affected by politico-economic factors for instance the implications of Brexit for EWCs and for UK representatives.

Since the establishment of the EU’s European Works Councils directive, over one thousand EWCs have been created. Twenty thousand people are directly involved in actively contributing to them while millions more are involved in receiving news from the colleagues who represent them. Given the numbers involved, investment in training is essential to ensure that company developments are negotiated effectively and communicated clearly.