Glossary

Information

Information

Directives usually start by giving the definitions of the basic terms they use. It is interesting that different directives use different definitions for the same term. As a rule, definitions become much more elaborated with the time.

Specifically, following Directive 2002/14 "information" means transmission of data by the employer to the employees' representatives, in order to enable them to acquaint themselves with the subject matter and to examine it.

On the other hand, following Directive 2009/38 "information" means transmission of data by the employer to the employees’ representatives in order to enable them to acquaint themselves with the subject matter and to examine it; information shall be given at such time, in such fashion and with such content as are appropriate to enable employees’ representatives to undertake an in-depth assessment of the possible impact and, where appropriate, prepare for consultations with the competent organ of the Community-scale undertaking or Community-scale group of undertakings.

Consultation

Consultation

Following Directive 2002/14 "consultation" means the exchange of views and establishment of dialogue between the employees' representatives and the employer.

In Directive 2009/38 "consultation" means the establishment of dialogue and exchange of views between employees’ representatives and central management or any more appropriate level of management, at such time, in such fashion and with such content as enables employees’ representatives to express an opinion on the basis of the information provided about the proposed measures to which the consultation is related, without prejudice to the responsibilities of the management, and within a reasonable time, which may be taken into account within the Community-scale undertaking or Community-scale group of undertakings.

You may observe that the latter definition is more refined and includes prerequisites for considering a dialogue as a consultation (e.g. need for reasonable time).

Collective bargaining

Collective bargaining

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines collective bargaining as the “voluntary negotiation between employer or employers’ organisations and workers’ organisations, with a view to the regulations of terms and conditions of employment by mean of collective agreement”.

The main differences of information and consultation on one hand and collective bargaining on the other are:

  • Collective bargaining has as sole aim the signature of a collective agreement, whereas information and consultation may deal with specific decisions of the management or examine the perspectives of the company.
  • Collective bargaining may cover a company, a plant of the company, a sector or to be nationwide. Instead, information and consultation is always company based.
  • Collective bargaining takes place periodically, in most cases once a year. Information and consultation may take place at any time.
  • In collective bargaining employee representatives participating are always trade unions. In information and consultation other forms of employee representation (such as works councils) may participate as well.

Employees representative(s)

Employees representative(s)

Depending on the national legislation of the member- State, in information and consultation sessions employees are represented by company-based trade unions or works councils or representatives on purpose elected by the whole work-force of the company.

The notion of representation is reciprocal, this meaning that if you are an employee representative you have to keep employees you represent informed.

Management/ Employer representative(s)

Management/ Employer representative(s)

Employer has to be represented in the highest level possible (employer, general manager), because else employer representatives may play games, e.g. by conducting consultation and then saying “I am not authorized …” taking back whichever concessions up to that moment.

You should also be cautious that you are not outnumbered by management representatives, lawyers, etc. because if this happens it will be most difficult to counterbalance them and have a dialogue on an equal basis.

Complementarity of Law

Complementarity of Law

Directives that refer to information and consultation are valid independently and at the same time they are complementary to each other. If, for example there is a case of transfer of an undertaking, Directives 2001/23 and 2002/14 could apply.

In the case the transfer refers to a company with European dimension, Directive 2009/38 on European Works Councils (EWCs) may also apply independently.

Directive 2002/14 also previews that if national Law in a member State has a better or higher level of protection of employees’ rights, then national Law prevails. This is the case in countries with long tradition in information and consultation within the company as for example in Germany and in France.

Complementarity of action

Complementarity of action

Procedures of information and consultation are no obstacle neither do they draw back any other means of trade union action, such as collective bargaining, strikes, work stoppages, demonstrations, publicity to the problem, common action with local community etc.

This toolkit has been developed in the framework of the project STRENGTHENING INVOLVEMENT. The project was implemented in 2018 and was funded by DG Employment of the European Commission. You can find more information about the project at strengtheninginvolvement.obes.gr