"Works Councils are coming to Britain"

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Joined: 15-04-06
Feb 26 2007 15:36
"Works Councils are coming to Britain"

In 1998 the Solidarity Federation published this pamphlet "Out of the frying pan: a critical look at works councils" (http://merlin.xssl.net/~admin75/booklets/pdfs/ofp.pdf) This pamphlet was published, I suspect, in response to the split in the French CNT (and previously the Spanish CNT) over workplace tactics.

This is an interesting critique of works councils as they operated in parts of continental Europe in the 1990s.

The intro on the Solfed website states that "Works Councils are coming to Britain."

I am curious if the prediction of sweeping works councils came to fruitian in Britain? If so, what have been the various responses by the libertarian wokers movement?

Joined: 8-03-06
Feb 26 2007 16:41

They exist in quite large numbers, but are pretty much irrelevant in most places. Any employer with more than a thousand employees has to have one, especially if they operate across the EU.
In firms where the union is still recognised and has any clout, or has some sort of sweetheart deal with the bosses, they're irrelevant. (Though the state of the unions means that the employers don't really see the need to set up a more business firendly alternative.)

Where there is no union, theya re more implanted. One aspect of the Fujitsu dispute in Manchester is the company's desire to derecognise the union there and have it's works council as the sole representational body. In Fujitsu, the unions do contest elections for the works council and, reformist as they are, the only problem they have with it is its use by the company to undermine their efforts to gain more representative rights.

The firm I now work for has one, even though our recognition agreement should have transferred we were invited to put someone forward to "represent" our office, though this has gone quiet. I read through the T&Cs of the rep's role and the company can take anyone off the works council any time they like, so it's totally under their control.

In terms of general impact, so far it has been quite small, but I think that's as much to do with the times we are in as anything else. Should the struggle ever take an upward turn, I'd expect them to be deployed quite a bit.



Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Joined: 14-03-06
Feb 26 2007 16:45

yeah we've got one where i work apparently. i say apparently because all i've heard about it is a mention of 'representatives needed' in a 'team brief'. once. i don't think they do much, but then there's not much collective class power to sabotage and recuperate.

Joined: 11-02-07
Feb 27 2007 10:10

According to the pamphlet: "To comply with the social chapter of the Maastricht Treaty, most of the major companies operating in Britain will be compelled to introduce European Works Councils by 1999. The Works Councils system could be extended further if a proposed directive is introduced, which would call on all companies with more than 50 employees to set them up to."

Does anyone know what the current legal situation is? Do the same rules apply in the public sector?