SIPTU addresses European unions on European Works Councils’ campaign

22 November 2021

The SIPTU European Works Council (EWC) Expert, Denis Sheridan, outlined the campaign to strengthen legislation governing the operation of EWCs in Ireland to a meeting of representatives of European unions and politicians, last week (Wednesday, 17th November).
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SIPTU campaigns to end multi-national companies using Ireland to circumvent workers’ rights 

SIPTU representatives have called on the Government to act to end the use of Ireland by multi-national companies seeking to circumvent the European Works Council (EWC) directive and so undermining workers in other EU states conditions of employment.

At a press conference in Liberty Hall in Dublin, yesterday (Friday, 29th October), union officials and European employee representatives from the US multi-national company Verizon Communications Inc outlined their concerns about corporations moving their headquarters to Ireland to circumvent the EU directive on the operation of EWCs.

SIPTU EWC expert,  Denis Sheridan, said: “SIPTU has made an official complaint to the EU Commission about how negatively the EU Directive on EWCs has been transposed into Irish law. The lack of any adequate penalties for companies in Ireland who disregard this key piece of EU workers’ rights legislation has created a situation of growing concern among European politicians and trade unions that our country has adopted a ‘wild west’ approach to workers’ rights.

“There is a growing trend of multi-national companies, whose main operations are based in other EU member states and the UK, moving their headquarters to Ireland, allowing them to circumvent the proper operation of EWCs and undermine workers conditions of employment. Since Brexit, it is estimated that nearly 100 firms have made this move and have then curtailed the operation of their EWC.”

He added: “This situation is both damaging to workers and to our image as a progressive European nation. It may also result in large EU fines if it is not adequately addressed.”

The Vice-Chair of the Verizon EWC, Jan Gyselinck, said that his body played a crucial role in the good management of the company, ensuring employees were adequately informed and had input into strategic change.

He said: “There had been problems with the operation of the EWC prior to the company moving its registered headquarters from the UK to Ireland. However, the legalisation in Ireland governing the operation of EWCs is even weaker than it is in the UK. This makes it more difficult to secure the information and expert advice we need to operate the EWC and which is our right under the EU directive governing EWCs.”


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