‘Democracy in the Workplace: Strengthening Information and Consultation’ is part of a wider TUC policy theme designed to give workers a say in how their companies are run. In theory, the Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) regulations already give a workers perspective on major changes affecting the company. In practice, those regulations are not widely used; neither are they well understood. Strengthening the ICE regulations, therefore, could give a boost to workplace democracy.
‘Democracy in the Workplace’ presents evidence from France, Sweden and Germany. Union reps and managers from companies like Husqvarna, which makes power tools, the defence company Saab and the insurance firm AXA, testified to how stronger information and consultation can boost decision-making. As David Tornadre, Senior Executive Vice President of the French multinational Thales told us, worker reps put the “people dimension” into decision-making.
‘Democracy in the Workplace’ calls for the right to a works council if a minimum of five employees request one. This overcomes the so-called trigger mechanism, whereby 10 per cent of employees must support the establishment of a works council before one is established, an almost impossible hurdle in companies where knowledge of information and consultation may be scarce. Employers should be obliged to negotiate information and consultation arrangements if requested to do so by a recognised trade union. A basic constitution for a works council should be developed by the Department for Business, working with the TUC and CBI, and deviations from this constitution should only be possible to improve its provisions.
Issued: 17 July, 2014