The European Worker Participation Competence Centre assists workers' representatives and trade unions in their support of democracy at work.
In October 2008, the ETUC unanimously adopted a resolution to establish a European Worker Participation Fund (EWPF) – located within the ETUI – and setup the European Worker Participation Competence Centre (EWPCC) as part of the ETUI, to be financially supported by the transfer of (part of) the remuneration of workers' representatives on the supervisory and administrative boards of European Companies (SEs). The EWPCC coordinates and organizes activities to support and promote the representation of employees at different levels in multinational companies.
For the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the promotion of worker participation has always been a top priority. At the Seville congress in 2007, 'On the offensive' for social dialogue, collective bargaining and worker participation was confirmed as one of the spearheads for future initiatives. In accordance with this decision, in October 2008 the ETUC Executive Committee unanimously adopted a resolution to create the European Worker Participation Fund (EWPF).
The European Trade Unions paved the way, at their congresses in Stockholm 1988, Prague 2003 and Seville 2007, for the fostering of board-level workers' participation in Europe. At the meeting of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) Executive Committee on 15/16 October 2008, it was decided that :
- The Fund will be located within the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI).
- The financing of the Fund will be done by transferring part of the remuneration of workers representatives’ on the boards of European Companies (SEs).
- The responsibility for carrying out activities will lie with the newly created European Worker Participation Competence Centre (EWPCC).
- The resources of the EWPF must be used to support the workers’ representatives in European Companies (SEs).
The work programme of the EWPCC can cover a wide range of activities, such as:
- The organization of seminars and training for employee board members, SE representative bodies and European Works Councils ;
- Advisory services ;
- Research and expertise on the practice and further development of worker participation ;
- Documentation and analysis of proven practices ;
- Publication of handbooks and other materials.
The EWPCC was set up as a transversal cluster, thus enabling it to use all available competences from the two ETUI departments Research and Education.
Transfer of remuneration
Transparency concerning remuneration
In accordance with the ETUC resolution of 15/16.10.2008, workers' representatives on an SE Board must, at least, transfer 10% of their remuneration, if that remuneration is less than or equal to €3,500; in addition, transfer 90% of any remaining remuneration over and above €3,500.
- The level of remuneration for all members of the supervisory or administrative board is usually decided by a company's General Shareholders Meeting. There must also be transparency in public information about remuneration, certainly at listed companies.
- Workers' representatives have the same rights and also duties as all other members - consequently, they are treated equally with regard to compensation.
- Serving as a supervisory board member or non-executive director of an SE entails a readiness to take on additional tasks above and beyond normal working in order to be properly prepared for board meetings. It is not supposed to be a full-time activity for which a workers' representative receives special release from work.
- The ETUC understands the tasks of SE board-level representatives as a 'European mandate', which means that they are not merely an individual matter. A representative in an SE boardroom should consider the interests of all employees, regardless of their nationality or origin.
- For this reason the ETUC has adopted rules that apply to all elected representatives in SE boardrooms. However, monitoring the compliance of individual members falls within the competence of the relevant trade union.
- The ETUI reports once a year on who has contributed how much to the Fund. The report will be available to the trade unions in question.
Principles and rules for the transfer of (part of) remuneration
The basis for the amount of the transfer is the value after tax, according to national rules.
- The resources will be paid to the corresponding member organisations of the ETUC (or their affiliates) or to trade union institutions (foundations, educational institutions, and so on). These, in turn, are obliged to pass on 50% of the funds to the European Workers Participation Fund (EWPF) set up by the ETUI.
- Affiliates may decide that the part transferred to the EWPF shall be higher than 50%.
- The resources that remain with the trade unions at national level should also be used for activities in the field of worker involvement in the SE.
Board of Trustees
The structure put in place should guarantee a high degree of transparency and accountability to the contributors and at the same time monitor and assure that contributions due are paid. Therefore, the ETUC Executive Committee receives an annual activity report and a Board of Trustees has been established, made up of representatives of trade union organisations mainly concerned by the transfer of remuneration rule. The Board meets twice a year to discuss the proposals on how to utilise the resources of the EWPF.
- ETUI. (2019). Focus on Central-Eastern Europe - a trio of events. ETUI, Brussels.
- ETUI. (2013). EWPCC-Conference-2013-10-Years-of-SE-How-far-have-we-come. ETUI, Brussels.
- ETUI. (2012). EWPCC seminar: Sustainability – What does it mean for worker representatives and working conditions in retail? ETUI.
- ETUI. (2011). EWPCC conference 'SEs in stormy weather'. November, ETUI, Brussels.