Workers' councils get the green light

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The Independent Online
BRUSSELS - The obligation to consult employees regularly on strategy and company policy was, after 20 years and strong British resistance, yesterday pencilled into European law together with the first EU-wide agreement setting minimum conditions for employing young people, writes Sarah Lambert.

The legislation was not brought under the provisions of the Social Chapter of the Maastricht treaty which Britain has not signed. The proposed legislation will still be binding on the UK, although the government has secured derogations from certain aspects of the legislation.

The merits of establishing consultative works councils have been controversial for nearly two decades. Workers' representatives in companies employing more than 1,000 people and more than 100 in at least two EU member states will now be consulted and informed of company decisions by their employers. Some 100 British multi-nationals will be affected, but London was pleased to have secured undertakings that UK employees of UK multi-nationals would not count towards the thresholds at which the directive becomes applicable, thus greatly diluting the effect of the law on UK companies.