1st transnational EWC Seminar – Setting the picture

Companies constantly change their structures: They relocate responsibilities within the company organisation or even shift entire locations to different countries. These developments present employee representatives with continuous challenges.

1st transnational EWC Seminar – Setting the picture

At the first transnational EWC workshop representatives from companies of different branches of industry and nations met from 22-24 June 2016 in Vienna under the slogan “Setting the Picture” in order to address the economic and political principles of restructuring processes and to exchange experiences on the respective ongoing processes.

2-3 European Works Council members of Novartis, ATOS IT, Deutsche Telekom, Deutsche Post DHL, TNT, Thomas Cook and DS Smith travelled to Vienna. The participants come from Austria, Germany, Belgium, Great Britain and the Netherlands.


During theoretical inputs the participants analysed the reasons for companies to engage in restructuring measures. Reasons differ from new technologies and new possibilities to crisis situations or external and internal pressure. First and foremost, companies expect growth from restructuring. However, “change for change's sake” often is an important motive as change has become a contemporary corporate philosophy: Change does not even need to pursue a certain goal, but has become a goal itself.

Further inputs dealt with the legal frame of the European Work Council Directive and addressed the political and economic background of restructuring measures, corporate strategies and knowledge on the impacts of change management on the company balance sheet.

Furthermore, the specific exchange between EWC teams was of central importance for the workshop. The teams were encouraged to learn from the respective example cases and to pick up suggestions for their own work.


In small groups specific questions were addressed: e.g. “What could be answers by European Works Councils to restructuring due to new corporate strategies?”, “How can trade unions exercise their roles regarding such challenges?” “What are dominant trends in the own company and how can those by handled?”.

Example cases the workshop participants had prepared for the workshop were presented in group sessions and served as the basis to examine the arguments by company managements and possible counterarguments and to develop possible ensuing strategies. Check lists were derived from these discussions that can be helpful for European Works Councils in future challenges.

This first survey will serve as basis for the following meetings and shall facilitate the representation of employee interests during company restructuring measures on the European and global level.

The next workshop will take place in London in November under the slogan “Prepared for Change” and will address work methods in EWC teams, information procurement, communications structures, and much more.