EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

FEIEA supports better law on internal communication

FEIEA welcomes the action of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who have voted for a review and modernisation of all directives relating to information and consultation in the workplace.

It’s understood that the Commission wishes to restrict any review to just one – the European Works Council Directive – but MEPs believe this would not go far enough. FEIEA shares this view and sees in the review an opportunity to strengthen the place of employee communication in law.

MEPs have pointed out that many of the directives date back to the 1970s when trade union membership was stronger. At that time an assumption was made that employees would be represented by their unions.

EU PARLIAMENT

Stephen Hughes, the Labour MEP for the North East of England and Socialist Group spokesman for social affairs, explained that MEPs are aiming for a single framework directive which would include ‘direct participation’ – which is legalistic language for when an employer informs employees directly, whether via email, publications, noticeboards, video, roadshows or other ‘direct’ channels.

This contrasts with communication channels where an employer informs the workforce via a group of (usually elected) worker representatives. Although those representatives receive information directly, the rest of the workforce does not, hence ‘indirect’ participation.

FEIEA accepts that works councils have an important role to play in workplace dialogue but supports the view of MEPs that direct participation should be included in any legal framework, both as support for councils or committees and to reflect differences in national workplace cultures – in some EU countries, direct channels of communication are prevalent, while in others indirect or representative participation plays a leading role.

A member of CiB, FEIEA’s British association, Louise Birkett has carried out postgraduate-level research into the basis for including direct participation in the legal framework. .

“There are already legal arguments to say indirect participation should be included in workplace dialogue,” she says.
“But there is also research to say that women prefer to get information from a variety of direct sources – that should be a key point of interest for both communicators and the Commission.”

If the European Parliament’s request and FEIEA’s lobbying are successful, the resulting new European directive would eventually become law in each of the European Union member states and would therefore affect communicators in every FEIEA country except Switzerland.