Gender mainstream Double Feature Languages None Sector 1: None Sector 2: None This information is made available through the European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO), as a service to users of the EIROnline database. EIRO is a project of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. However, this information has been neither edited nor approved by the Foundation, which means that it is not responsible for its content and accuracy. This is the responsibility of the EIRO national centre that originated/provided the information. For details see the "About this record" information in the EIROnline record to which this article is linked. Livio Muratore EIRO comparative study: Developments in European Works Councils – case of Italy Article text1. The operation/experience of EWCs 1.1 Approximately how many new EWC agreements have been concluded by companies headquartered in your country since the beginning of 2002? In Italy, the 1994 Directive on European Works Councils (EWC) was incorporated into the 1996 inter- confederal agreement among the General Confederation of Italian Workers (Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro, CGIL), the Italian Confederation of Workers’ Unions (Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Lavoratori, CISL), the Union of Italian Workers (Unione Italiana del Lavoro, UIL) and the General Confederation of Italian Industry (Confederazione Generale dell’Industria Italiana, Confindustria), which signed a joint protocol for the directive’s transposition into Italian law. However, the relative legislation was only passed in 2002 (see answer 3). Around 80 companies headquartered in Italy fall within the directive’s scope of application. Of these only 34, most of them in the metalworking, metallurgical and chemicals sectors, have signed agreements under Italian legislation to set up EWCs (see Table 1). Almost all the agreements were signed (from 1996 onwards) before the Directive was transposed and can therefore be called voluntary, although in general they they closely reflect the guidelines laid down by the Directive. There have been only two agreements since 2002: Autogrill SpA in 2002 and Gruppo Conserve Italiane in 2003. List of agreements under Italian legislation (or inter-confederal agreement of 1996) Assicurazioni Generali SpA Antibioticos Alitalia Burgo SpA Barilla Group ENI (integrato Polimeri Europa Srl) CF Gomma Ferrero Dayco FIAT General Electric Power Systems Italcementi SpA Gucci Merazzi Ceramiche SpA Marzotto Merloni Elettrodomestici SpA H.J. Heinz Miroglio Tessile SpA Lucchini Parmalat Pirelli Menarini Riva Saronio Same Deutz Fahr Group Spa Reni di Medici (ex Saffa) StMicroelectronics Snaidero Bolton Italia (ex Trinity) TNT Automotive Logistics Vincenzo Zucchi SpA Whirlpool Autogrill Spa Gruppo Conserve Italiane Also of interest is the fact that members (besides those of the EWCs in Table 1) representing Italian workers are present in a further 370 EWCs set up under the legislations of other EU countries. 1.2 Please summarise any information available on the extent to which EWC agreements have been revised by the parties. What are the main changes? Please give examples of the reconstitution of EWCs following mergers, takeovers and disposals, highlighting key features. Some of the agreements listed above have been recently renewed (see the ENI case at point 1.4), but others have not been renewed on their expiry. Examples of excellence are provided by Merloni and Ferrero, whose EWCs are regularly informed and consulted once a year on the group’s strategic plans, economic situation, employment creation, social policy, hygiene and safety, environment, mergers and takeovers, and transnational investments. By contrast, several agreements have not been renewed on their expiry. There are various reasons for this, but the principal one is the lack of interest, or outright hostility, of managements, which raise obstacles against agreements and never convene the EWCs. This is the case of Marzotto. In these situations, the workers’ representatives prefer to maintain the status quo, without pressing for renewal of expired agreements, and to maintain an EWC formally constituted at least on paper. An emblematic case is the sell-off by Montedison of Eiridiana Beghin-Say SpA: once the group had been sold, the EWC created in 1995 (one of the first in Italy) was not reconstituted. 1.3 Have there been any instances in which EWCs have been able to influence the handling of transnational restructuring within companies headquartered in your country (or in American, Japanese or other non-EEA-based companies with major operations in your country) – or, conversely, where the EWC has not been consulted about transnational restructuring? Generally speaking, the ability of EWCs to influence decisions by multinationals on restructuring, sell-offs and transnational relocations is still insufficient. These decisions have major repercussions on industrial relations, and principally in regard to the exclusion of workers from the real centres of decision-making, where the influence of EWCs on corporate decisions is very limited. An example is provided by Parmalat, in whose reorganization (after the financial collapse) the EWC is not playing any significant role. 1.4 Have any EWCs in companies headquartered in your country (or in American, Japanese or other non- EEA-based companies with major operations in your country) negotiated agreements or joint texts with management. If so, please provide details. One of the most complete agreements in Italy for the creation of an EWC is that signed by ENI (Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi), a publicly-owned company operating in the energy and chemicals sectors. Concluded in 1995, and renewed in 2001, this accord has enabled the stipulation of an agreement between ENI and the EWC on the creation of a European observatory on health and safety. Also to be mentioned is the agreement at StMicroelettronics, an Italo-French multinational, on the promotion of an ethical code of behaviour. This agreement, although signed by the company and the trade unions, provides for negotiations which involve the unions of all countries where the company has production sites in definition of a code of behaviour concerning respect for human rights, trade-union rights, and working conditions, A crucial role in these negotiations will be performed by the EWC. 1.5 Has any litigation/other enforcement proceedings concerning EWCs taken place in your country? If so please provide brief details, including the impact/significance of any key rulings. No legal action has been taken by EWCs against their respective companies. This is because there are major obstacles against the use of litigation by EWCs as a deterrent against company managements hostile to the exercise of their functions. 2. The impact of EU enlargement on EWCs 2.1 Has any assessment been made of the number of additional companies headquartered in your country which have come within the scope of the Directive as a result of employees in the 10 new member states counting towards the Directive’s thresholds? Are any of these companies known to have established EWCs or to be in the process of doing so? It is extremely difficult to calculate how may groups with Italian parent companies, or foreign multinationals headquartered in Italy, fall within the scope of the Directive following enlargement of the EU to the ten new countries. Firstly because no monitoring has been made of the consequences of the enlargement, and no estimates have yet been published. Today, with the data available, it is impossible to know how many large-sized Italian companies, but also medium and small-sized ones, come under the scope of the Directive. Secondly because large part of the internationalization of Italian companies is extra- European: historically, in fact, it first concerned South America and then the Asiatic countries; only recently has it involved the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The most significant example in this regard is FIAT. The EWCs of the automobile multinational, which were set up in 1996, do not concern the metalworking sector, in that they are stably present only in Poland and Turkey, but represent the other sectors of FIAT, which is characterized by production diversification. From this year on, with Poland’s entry into the EU, the Fiat EWC will be extended to cover the car sector as well, which is the company’s core business. 2.2 Please summarise any data available concerning the extent to which existing EWCs in companies headquartered in your country have been enlarged to include employee representatives from the 10 new member states. Please give examples of any major changes to existing EWC agreements which this has involved. Already before the enlargement of the EU, several representatives of subsidiaries in the ten candidate countries had been included in the EWCs of companies headquartered in Italy, but only as observers and not as effective members of those committees. Moreover, various agreements on EWCs state that, when they are renewed, the inclusion of delegates from plants in the new EU countries must be formalized. However, the actions that may assist the inclusion of these representatives elected by their respective subsidiaries are only few in number, and they are hampered by the fact that representation systems (and the powers attributed to them) in those countries are still weak and embryonic. 2.3 Have any assessments been made of the impact of the enlargement of EWCs on: the integration of employee representatives from the new member states; and the operation/effectiveness of the EWCs concerned? No assessment has yet been published of the number of companies falling within the scope of the Directive following enlargement of the EU, or of the consequences of enlargement on EWCs. Shortly to be issued is a study financed by the European Commission, and whose section on Italy has been compiled by Ires (Istituto di Ricerche Economiche e Sociali), on sectoral monitoring to determine how many and which Italian and French multinationals are now covered for the first time by the EWC Directive after the entry of the ten countries of Central-Eastern Europe. 3. Review of EWCs Directive/promotion of good practice 3.1 Have the government, employers’ organisations and trade union bodies in your country made known their views on whether and how the EWCs Directive should be revised? If so, please summarise these. If not, please outline the general approach to EWCs taken by each of these parties in recent years. The trade unions have invariably been the actors most interested in the Directive and in the creation of EWCs. In fact, the government’s initiatives stopped with the transposition of the 1994 Directive into law by legislative decree no, 74 of 2 April 2002, which was modelled on the inter-confederal agreement of 1996. However, the decree adheres closely to the guidelines contained in the Directive and states that if an EWC is not created within three years, accessory procedures must begin to impose its constitution. As regards the national employers’ associations, these have adopted the position of the Union of Industrial and Employers’ Confederations of Europe (UNICE) and consequently maintain that no revision of the Directive is required. A diametrically opposed position has been taken up the trade unions, which have unanimously expressed positive opinions on the EWC system. The verdict by Cgil, Cisl and Uil is the same as that by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), namely that EWCs are extremely useful means with which to involve workers in information and consultation processes, but they are also instruments with which to improve and consolidate, because action in these years has highlighted shortcomings in efficiency. According to the trade unions, there are various critical areas. First the quality of information, which is often superficial and relative to questions not considered of priority interest to workers. Consultation amounts in practice to no more than the right to ask questions, without opportunities to express evaluations of the company’s proposals. The EWC delegates also criticise the excessive application of the right to confidentiality, which managements justify with the need to protect the company’s business. In fact, many types of information are classified as confidential and are therefore not made available to EWCs. Another critical area is the provision concerning just one annual meeting for most EWCs, which does not guarantee continuity in their work. For these reasons the trade unions propose that the Directive should be substantially revised, and they are pressing for the European Commission to accede to requests for revision. For the unions, in fact, companies should not be allowed to evade their obligation to furnish, in clear and exhaustive form, all information about their activities (and not just some of that information). EWCs should be given a role in deciding all matters concerning social responsibility, from workplace safety to the environment to respect of fundamental rights. Necessary to this end is prior consultation, so that talks are held with the company as early as possible before the decision is taken, and formal recognition of the trade unions with negotiating prerogatives attributed to the EWCs by conferral of a bargaining role. 3.2 In view of the European Commission’s emphasis on measures to promote the effectiveness of EWCs, what, if any, mechanisms exist in your country to promote the diffusion of good practice amongst EWCs by, for example, public bodies, employers’ organisations, trade unions, management consultancies and other organisations? Is there any evidence of EWCs in companies based in your country learning from, adopting and adapting good practice from other EWCs in other companies, sectors and/or countries? The EWCs sometime operate in difficult conditions due to the hostility of companies, language barriers and inadequate training of the delegates themselves. Considering the importance of the issues that the EWCs must address, especially serious is the failure of the actors concerned (institutions and social partners) to adopt instruments fostering good practices like codes of behaviour and social balance sheets among committees. 4. Commentary by the national centre Please provide your own comments on the issues covered by this study. The European Directive regulating EWCs is now ten years old. On drawing up the balance, one finds numerous causes for dissatisfaction but also some significant positive features. The rules regulating the functions of EWCs have revealed various shortcomings in these ten years, particularly as regards the information and consultation procedures which should involve the EWC representatives. In many cases, information is only formal and not furnished in timely manner, and too often withheld on grounds of business secrecy. A large part of meetings is taken up by the presentation of accounting and financial data which already appear in the annual statement (and are therefore of little interest), while little time is devoted to social themes and transnational issues. In the majority of cases, therefore, committees are able to obtain only limited and generic information (and in many cases already in the public domain) without an ensuing consultation phase. These difficulties are due to linguistic, cultural and social barriers among representatives from profoundly different geo-political backgrounds, and also to the attitude of numerous companies, which have only grudging accepted the creation of EWCs and consequently seek to reduce the activity of committees to mere ceremonial. Nevertheless, the EWC scheme has enabled closer contacts to take place among plants across Europe belonging to the same group. There now exists a body of workers’ representatives who have acquired transnational experience in industrial relations by coming into direct contact with the specific circumstances of other countries and with diverse models of trade-unionship. The goals for the next few years will be to improve the capacity of EWCs to intervene, and to heighten their effectiveness in influencing management decisions. If these goals are to be achieved, it will be necessary for the worker representatives in EWCs to acquire the ability to understand and assess the information furnished by managements and thus begin constructive dialogue which leads to greater EWC involvement in at least some company decisions. Finally, it is important that the EWC system should comprise small coordinating bodies which ensure continuity in the functioning of committees (which. moreover, meet only once a year). In fact, the lack of continuity in relations with the worker representatives in individual plants in the various countries, and with company managements, is still a severe handicap on the work and effectiveness of EWCs (Livio Muratore, Ires Lombardia). Sources: Conference Proceedings, Comitati Aziendali Europei: bilancio delle esperienze dalla Direttiva 94/45 CE ad oggi, Rome, 18 March 2003 Claudio Stanzani (president Infopoint Ces - Bruxelles) (ed.), I CAE in Italia, Rome, 30 April 2004.