Chapter 1. Challenges of the Implementation of Works Councils in Central and Eastern Europe: General Overview
Workers’ Representation in Central and Eastern Europe
Challenges and Opportunities for the Works Councils System
Editor: Roger Blanpain, Guest Editor: Nikita Lyutov
Works council, as a participatory means of regulating the employer–employee relation, is long established in Western European countries, but has failed to take significant root in other parts of the world where it has been tried. This book is the first in-depth exploration of the legal, political, and cultural forces that complicate this transposition. Focusing on Eastern and Central Europe, where the works council system has been most extensively applied and where the evident reasons for its lack of purchase are most telling, the contributors examine the relevant experience, both negative and positive, in twelve countries, with a particular focus on non-union representation of workers.
Many important issues pertinent to workers’ representation in general in a globalized world are covered, including the following:
- cooperation and confrontation between trade unions and works councils;
- insufficient division of competences between the two representative bodies;
- legal norms concerning both trade union and works councils independence from employers’ interference;
- need for serious and dissuasive sanctions against creation of employer-controlled (‘yellow’) unions;
- need for extension to non-union workers of protection from anti-union discrimination;
- real vs. formal implementation of EU norms in Eastern European Member States;
- unnecessarily complicated regulation of institutions of representation;
- lack of protection against dismissal of non-union representatives;
- responsibility for breach of employers’ obligation to consult and inform; and
- employers’ lack of legitimacy in the eyes of workers.
There is general agreement among these authors that, as long as human beings spend a serious part of their lives at the workplace, they must be allowed not merely to express opinions about the job but have a real influence on it. Fully aware of the sensitivity of these issues in market economies, the authors’ careful research and call for public discussion open the path to real changes in the existing system, clearly in Eastern Europe but to be much desired elsewhere also. For labour law scholars, practitioners, and policymakers who know that such changes are needed, this book offers directions that, though debatable, are sure to be welcomed.