Keep consultation directive flexible for business’ sake

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. The flexibility built into the current draft EU directive on consultation iscritical to business performance, and should, at all costs, be retainedThe court decision in France which threw out one of the union challenges tothe validity of the Marks & Spencer European Works Council, has againfocused attention on consultation with staff over closures (News, 25September). How multinationals handle major redundancies and plant closures or mergersand acquisitions has dominated the debate during the passage of a new draft EUdirective on “Information and Consultation at National Level”. But while these are important issues for those directly affected, by nomeans do they tell the whole story. This focus on major corporate restructuresoverlooks the impact the directive could have on the valuable contribution ofregular staff consultation on improving business performance. It now seems almost certain that we will have a European directive onconsultation by the end of this year. It is important that this directive andthe way it is implemented in the UK provides the opportunity for employers todevelop information and consultation systems that best suit them and theiremployees. Furthermore, it must not lead to organisations having to dismantlesystems that have served them and their employees well for often many years. An overly prescriptive directive detailing how organisations across Europehave to inform and consult their employees on business issues is thereforeinappropriate. Such a directive would not enable organisations to achieve theimproved performance that can be obtained from such systems. This is an area ofbusiness where a “one size fits all” approach is highlyinappropriate. To add value to business, the way in which an organisation informs andconsults its employees has to fit coherently with a number of factors. It hasto be tailored to the organisation’s culture, structure and management style aswell as its employee relations history and environment. This is why attempts to reduce the flexibility in the current text of thedraft directive must be resisted. The document on which “political”agreement was reached by all member states earlier this year, is probably theleast worst deal that could have been achieved for employers. It contains adegree of flexibility that will enable each government to design and develop alegislative framework for informing and consulting employees that fits withtheir employee relations systems. It will also provide employers withflexibility to have systems that meet the needs of their business andemployees. The successful implementation of information and consultation systems is notjust about procedures – it often requires changes to be made to anorganisation’s culture. These inevitably take time to bed-down in anorganisation and cannot be introduced overnight or imposed from outside. Thephased implementation provisions in the current text of the draft directivetherefore need to stay. These will give organisations the necessary time todesign and implement systems that benefit them and their employees. We are now reaching an important stage in the progress of this draftdirective through the European legislative procedure, with in-depth discussionscurrently taking place in the European Parliament. The signs are that some MEPs are pressing for significant changes to be madeto the text and it is important that this pressure is resisted. On this issue,employers will be judging the UK Government on its ability to meet the criticalchallenge of retaining the flexibility of the current draft directive ratherthan accepting a compromise text that provides employers with too littleflexibility. By David Yeandle a deputy director of the Engineering Employers’Federation Previous Article Next Article Keep consultation directive flexible for business’ sakeOn 2 Oct 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img

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