Description of the project

  • Summary

    The project INFORMIA II, promoted by the Confederation of the Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB), aims to make further analysis of the role of the systems of information and consultation at the work-place level (including the EWC) and to enlarge the partnership and the scope of issues which will be researched and analysed further, to offer a transnational exchange of experiences and good practice examples among the partner countries in order to improve the impact of workplace representation and participation structures on the productivity, effectiveness of corporate governance and competitiveness, to enhance the better implementation of the European social model in general and to promote corporate social responsibility in the partner countries - Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Italy and UK, in particular.

    During the second phase of the project a follow-up Research of the implementation of information and consultation rights in the countries of the project partners will be undertaken. This research will upgrade and enrich the previous survey (INFORMIA I) by analysis of the available information on the influence and role of information, consultation and participation activities on the processes mentioned above and compare the practices and results in the partner countries. Also, several European workshops for discussions and a study of various topics and an exchange of experience amongst the partner countries and other EU Member States will be organised. As a final phase of the project a European conference for exchange of information and the dissemination of the results of the research and of the workshops will be organised. The results, outcomes and conclusions from the research, the European workshops and the European conference will be summarised and published in a European comparative report/paper on the impact of information and consultation on the productivity, competitiveness and the implementation of the European social model and are expected to influence the elaboration of ideas and suggestions for improvement both of the national polices, practices, co-ordination and exchange of experience between the social partners of the partner countries and of the legislative framework (both European and national) at national and EU-level.

  • Background of the project

    The impact of the information and consultation Directives and practices for the improvement of the competitiveness, economic growth and productivity in the EU Member States showed a number of trends. In most of the countries that participated in the first stage of the INFORMIA Project, the impact of the information and consultation processes on the fall-out from the world financial and economic crisis and on the economic and social tendencies at the work place in general, were recorded.

    Although issues, such as the economic and financial state of the company, work organisation, growth in or reduction of production, work-force qualification, are discussed by the information and consultation representatives/works councils, the importance of the information and consultation process is not yet a priority for company management teams, especially in those countries where information and consultation mechanisms have only been implemented in recent years. Nevertheless, in countries such as Bulgaria and Ireland the role of information and consultations in some companies and sectors has increased in the time of the crisis and, at the same time, the implementation of information and consultation, together with collective bargaining provisions, succeeded in retaining jobs and prevented the reduction of wages. For most of the countries the implementation of information and consultations procedures (including representation through European Works Councils) is useful for the improvement the workers' rights and industrial relations at the company level.

    However, in most countries the scope of the subject of representation and the practical results of information and consultation process depend on the quality of information shared by the employer, as well as on the ability of the individual representatives to obtain and use this information. The results are also connected with the relations with the management team and the relations between the various forms of employee representation.

    The co-ordination between various workplace representation structures, mainly between trade unions and information and consultations representatives/works councils seems to be necessary and its improvement could increase workers' influence on corporate policies and strategies. In cases where such co-ordination is better, the results from the information of and consultations on company results and workers rights are better.

    However, employees from the various EU Member States and some candidate countries have different approaches to employee participation, board-level representation and financial participation, which could better involve them in corporate governance. According to the report of the team of the ETUI SEEurope Network The Current Financial and Economic Crisis: A trigger for developments in national corporate governance and worker participation (Norbert Kluge and Sigurd Vitols, March, 2010) in the 18 of the 27 EU Member States and Norway board level representation can be found. This form of representation was also found in the countries that participated in the INFORMIA I Project, such as in Ireland (in the Public Sector), France and Croatia. However, in many other countries, such as Italy and Bulgaria, there are no such legal provisions. Financial participation is also not legally implemented in EU Member States and candidate countries, with the exception of France, and the motivation for more active workers' participation is not under equal conditions.

    At the same time, in times of crisis, the role of representation through the trade unions seems to be on the increase. Trade unions are overloaded by very practical tasks for helping their members protect employment or to tackle increased workplace instability caused by the current economic and financial crisis (Kluge and Vitols, SEEUROPE report, March 2010).

    The new EU strategy Europe 2020, as well as the proposed Single Market Act, could increase the role of international and European-level workers' representation and its impact on company strategies, especially in multi-national enterprises and European societies, but also in companies at the national level. Various forms of representation and social dialogue, such as sectoral and inter-sectoral consultations, negotiations between social partners at the EU level, representation through the EWCs and others, could influence both the transnational dimension of growth, restructuring and competition and the improvement of the labour/social rights of workers and employees from the European perspective.

  • Aims and objectives of the project

    Aims of the project
    • To improve the capacity, exchange of experience and knowledge of trade unions and workers' representatives (including EWC members) and employers' representatives in EU Member States and candidate countries with regard to the role of information, consultations and participation processes on productivity, competitiveness and the improvement of corporate governance;

    • To improve the capacity, exchange of experience and knowledge of trade unions and workers' representatives (including EWC members) and employers' representatives in EU Member States and candidate countries with regard to the impact of the information, consultation and participation processes for the better implementation of the European social model;

    • To study the impact of the recast EWC Directive on the improvement of information, consultation and workers' participation in general (with a focus on the national level) and on the links between national and European levels in various Member States and candidate countries;

    • To compare the opportunities to influence the information, consultation and participation structures (including the EWCs) on the economic and social issues at work-place and the results of this influence in the countries with long traditions of free market economies in comparison to countries in which the market economy started in the last 20 years;

    • To study the impact of the information, consultation and the legally existing forms of workers participation, including works councils with participative rights, board level representation, and others on the economic and social issues and corporate governance and to compare them with the impact of the information and consultation process in the countries, in which there's no board level representation;

    • To contribute for the elaboration of draft proposals for changes and amendments to national legislation in the partner countries and in EU Directives regarding information and consultation and workers' participation, including enhancing board level representation and improvement the links between the national and European level participation.

    Operational objectives (activities to be implemented)
    • To analyse the existing literature, previous analysis and survey data related to information, consultation and workers' participation;

    • To make additional data collection at national level of the processes, mentioned in the project aims and to prepare national reports;

    • To organise three European workshops for discussion and exchange of experience on some major topics, for example:
      • The new requirement in the Recast EWC Directive for a link between the EWC and national information and consultation arrangements;
      • Member States where statuary information and consultation procedures are new or have not traditionally been part of the employment relationship;
      • A comparison between the 'Anglo-Saxon' conflictual approach to the employment relationship and how these Member States have transitioned to a more consensus approach and the Member States of the old-planned economies of CEE and how they have converted to the market economic approach and what impact does I&C arrangements have on the evolution of their new systems.
    • To develop, publish and translate in all languages of the partner countries an European comparative report/paper on the impact of information, consultations and participation on the issues mentioned in the project aims, based on the results of the national data collections, the research and the exchange of experience and good practice examples between the partners during the proposed European workshops;

    • To organise and carry out a European conference in order to present the results of the research findings; to spread the knowledge and good practice examples to a broader public and other countries/regions and to enhance the mainstreaming of the project results into other national and regional contexts;

    • To maintain and improve the already established network (in the framework of INFORMIA I) for an exchange of experience between the partner countries, other countries and stakeholders in the sphere of information, consultation and workers' representation.

  • Implementation of the action.

    To reach the above described aims and operational objectives the project will implement a set of activities, which will be organised in a duration of 12 months (6/2011 - 6/2012). The main activities will be divided into seven work-packages providing a clear time frame and defining the responsibility and involvement of each project partner: (Establishment of process and practice for successful project management; Carrying out further Research on the role of the information, consultation and participation processes in the partner countries; Developing National reports based on the data analysis and the carried-out research; Developing and organizing three European workshops on specific topics; Developing and organizing a European Conference; Developing, translating and publishing European comparative report; Dissemination and mainstreaming activities).
    There will be a methodology developed by the Bulgarian research team leader which will provide the guidelines, instructions and content of the further data collection and research at national level, and the requirements for the content and structure of the National report.
    There will be three phases of the research and analytic activity:

    • Development of conceptual (analytical) framework for the research, which includes preparation of questionnaire(s) and instructions for the processing and analysis of the collected data and information.
    • Analysis of the data and comparative analysis done by the research team of the project
    • Development of a European comparative report/paper.

    In order to promote the project outcomes all the results of the Research and analytic activities will be presented during the three European Workshops and the Final European Conference.

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