6. Challenges for EWC of general nature

Other challenges: Just transition and decorbanisation; Artificial Intelligence, Digitalisation, Equal Opportunities 

  • Just transition and decarbonisation: practical recommendations to SNBs, EWCs, SE-WCs, Brussel 23 June 2022
  • Develop your own trade union strategy
  • Get involved in your company
  • Discuses with the management

An online mapping of good national, sectoral and company practices is available on the industriAll Europe website.

Check it here: https://justtransition.industriall-europe.eu/

Good practice

  • Request to receive the annual report, including the sustainability report, and to have a discussion about it with management.
  • When (re-)negotiating your EWC agreement, add decarbonisation to the list of topics for information and consultation.
  • Be critical concerning the information you will receive and flag up attempts at green washing!



Energy sector

EWC since 2001

In 2021, the preamble of EDF EWC agreement was revised as follow:

The Signatories undertake to the implementation of EDF’s new “Raison d’être” Mission Statement over the Group’s entire European scope, as well as contributing to its construction, in particular to monitor the commitment of the Group and its European subsidiaries to combating climate warming, its consequences on operations and on jobs, and to support the ambitions of the EDF Group Corporate Social Responsibility Agreement signed unanimously on 19 June 2018.

In this perspective, the EWC is an ideal venue to analyse and share views regarding the challenges and opportunities of the major trends occurring in the energy industry, whether technological or legislative, in particular EU-level legislation, to assess their economic and labour impacts on the Group’s subsidiaries, and therefore to evaluate the changes in the environment where the Group deploys its strategy.

In view of the social and labour challenges of the energy transition and the imperative requisite of a just transition in line with the European Green Deal and the Paris Climate Accord, the EWC must be a forum of dialogue about professional transitions and skills development issues linked to changes brought about by the energy transition, consistently with the requirements of a just transition.


Domo Chemicals EWC

Chemical sector

EWC since 1996

The European Works Council agreement which was renegotiated in 2021 includes clear reference to the right to be informed and consulted on the company’s green strategy.

Art. 2.2 Information on the general functioning of the Group


Information presented to the EWC includes:

  • Structure of Domo Chemicals and its governance,
  • Economic and financial situation (such as an annual report),
  • Evolution of the business including production and sales,
  • Safety, health and environmental policy,
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (including a code of conduct) and Sustainable Development,
  • General directions of the social policy of the Group and Human Resource projects

Art. 2.3 Information and consultation on transnational matters


This would include:

  • Significant evolution in terms of employment,
  • Strategic investments undertaken at group level or involving several countries,
  • Substantial changes regarding the group’s organisation,
  • Introduction of new working methods or new processes of production,
  • Transfers of production and transfers of technology,
  • Mergers, acquisitions, downsizing or closure of undertakings or establishments, or significant parts thereof the collective redundancy plans.
  • Evolution of safety, health and environmental policy


Tata Steel Europe EWC

Basic metal sector

EWC since 2000

Discussions about the impact of decarbonisation on the company’s strategy and operations have been going on for some years. On the request of the Tata Steel Europe EWC, a ‘decarbonisation working group’ has been set up and met for the first time in June 2021. It is composed of 15 members: 7 company representatives who are leading on decarbonisation, and 8 trade union representatives from the UK and the Netherlands. The external economic expert who is assisting the EWC on a regular basis is also taking part in the decarbonisation working group.

The decarbonisation working group fosters a transparent debate, exchange of best practices and helps trade unions discuss with management about the decarbonisation scenarios of the Tata Steel group in Europe that they have developed on their own.

  • IndustriAll Europe practical recommendations on artificial intelligence, Brussel 18 October 2022

Attempts to regulate the development and usage of AI have emerged in recent years. At global level, UNESCO has adopted recommendations on the ethics of artificial intelligence (2021), while the OECD has elaborated AI principles (2019) which focus on how governments and other actors can shape a human-centric approach to trustworthy AI. At the European level, the European Commission’s high-level expert group on AI issued ethics guidelines for trustworthy AI (2019).

Good practice

Request a mapping of all AI systems in place in your company, or about to be implemented (Where? Which one? What for?).

Ask the management to develop an impact assessment of the AI system to be introduced at the workplace, with specific regard to the impact on fundamental rights (e.g. risks of discrimination) and on employment (e.g. number of jobs affected, skills needs).

Suggest to the management the creation of a position of a data accountant, whose duty is to control and report annually on the use of AI systems, in the way a financial accountant controls and reports on the financial situation.

Without waiting for the final adoption of an EU AI Act, trade unions, including company-level representatives, should be on the offensive to shape a lawful, non-discriminatory and just AI at the workplace which abides by the following principles:

  • The human must always stay in command and fully in control. The scope for AI action must be clearly defined and transparent, both for the human and the machine;
  • Adaptivity and error tolerance must be clearly defined;
  • The decisions taken by the algorithm must be transparent and contestable, specifically through meaningful and permanent worker consultation;
  • Unreasonable targets must not be imposed;
  • AI must help relieve human labour. It must augment human labour, rather than substitute it;
  • Room must be made for more creative tasks in a safe work environment.
  • All workers need to have the right skills at their command to work with the AI and a re- and upskilling strategy should be developed that secures a just digital transition for all.
  • Let’s shape digitalisation in multinational companies, Recommendations to EWC/SE coordinators and worker representatives in EWCs and SEs,  Brussels, December 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has further accelerated the digitalisation of our jobs: telework has spread throughout Europe, online education and training has started to be common practice, and videoconferencing has gradually become a feature of our daily lives. Digital technologies continue to support social distancing at the workplace, thanks to smart protective personal equipment, mobile digital devices for remote work, advanced collaborative tools, etc.

The digital transformation of our industries is not a new phenomenon. It is taking place before our eyes. As highlighted by the COVID-19 crisis too, it brings as many opportunities as it does risks.


MERCK Euroforum

Pharmaceutical industry

EWC (named Euroforum) since 1996

Inspired by the joint industriAll Europe / ECEG (European Chemical Employers Group) project on the digital transformation in the chemical industry in which Merck actively participated, the management and EWC jointly decided to put the topic on the EWC agenda. On the occasion of the July 2019 annual meeting, EWC delegates and management representatives took the time to discuss the impact of digitalisation at Merck during four workshops. The need to accompany the transition through training policies and worker involvement was deliberated. A digital expert supported the following plenary discussion and conclusions. Since then, talks are ongoing to follow-up on this initiative.



Aerospace sector

EWC since 2008

SAFRAN company adopted a comprehensive digital strategy called “Factory of the future” some years ago. Early in the 2010s, the group embraced the full integration of digital technologies in its production processes: virtual reality, augmented reality, cobotics, additive manufacturing, closed-door machining, non-destructive testing; big data; digital continuity. Safran EWC took the initiative to commission a study by external experts on how the “Factory of the future” strategy is implemented in different countries. The study was delivered in November 2018.



Energy sector

EWC since 2001 (with the founding company Gaz de France)

In November 2019, ENGIE European Works Council and ENGIE CEO signed a joint statement on the anticipation and management of the social, economic and organisational consequences of digitalisation in the company. ENGIE management and the EWC stress the need to:

  • Assess the impact of digitalisation on jobs and skills and devise a strategic training planning
  • Ensure a proper work-life balance, including through the implementation of the right to disconnect
  • Respect legislation regarding employee data protection
  • Protect strategic data and sensitive information
  • Engage in social dialogue in the workplace to avoid any negative impact of digitalisation on working conditions

The joint statement was reached after two years of intensive activity by a working group set up by the EWC to assess the impact of digitalisation on work and working conditions. Following the joint statement, ENGIE management and EWC announced their intention to launch a negotiation process with the European Trade Union Federations with a view to reaching a European Framework Agreement, initially planned in 2020.

  • Practical recommendations on Equal Opportunities

Equal opportunities, diversity and non-discrimination,  Recommendations to coordinators & worker representatives  in SNBs, EWCs and SEs, Brussels, July 2022

IndustriAll Europe promotes equality, diversity and non-discrimination for inclusive and safe workplaces for all:

  • Equality is about ensuring everybody has an equal opportunity, and is not treated differently or discriminated against because of their characteristics.
  • Diversity is about taking account of the differences between people and groups of people, and placing a positive value on those differences.
  • The principle of non-discrimination seeks to guarantee that rights are exercised without discrimination of any kind.

The principles of equality, diversity and non-discrimination are all enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. They thus apply all across the EU and are enforceable before courts.


Article 20 – Equality before the law

Everyone is equal before the law.

Article 21 – non-discrimination

1. Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.

2. Within the scope of application of the Treaties and without prejudice to any of their specific provisions, any discrimination on grounds of nationality shall be prohibited.


Article 23 – Equality between women and men

Equality between women and men must be ensured in all areas, including employment, work and pay.

The principle of equality shall not prevent the maintenance or adoption of measures providing for specific advantages in favour of the under-represented sex.


Article 26 – Integration of persons with disabilities

The Union recognises and respects the right of persons with disabilities to benefit from measures designed to ensure their independence, social and occupational integration and participation in the life of the community.

Good practice

  • Request to receive the annual report, including the sustainability/non-financial report, released by your company, and to have a discussion about it with management.
  • When (re-)negotiating your EWC agreement, add equal opportunity policy to the list of topics for information and consultation.
  • If your company is headquartered in a country with strong requirements for equality plans (e.g. Spain or France), request that a similar exercise is carried out for all sites and countries.



Energy sector

EWC since 2001 (with the founding company Gaz de France)

In 2017, the European trade union federations, industriAll Europe, EPSU and EFBWW, acting upon the mandate of a European trade union negotiation group, signed a European agreement with Engie management on professional equality between women and men. The European agreement goes beyond recruitment, training and career development to also address, e.g. gender-neutral parental leave or equal pay for equivalent qualifications and positions. It contains provisions on changing attitudes and preventing sexual harassment and sexist behaviour.



Metal and plastic packaging sector

EWC since 2009

The Silgan White Cap EWC agreement states (art. 3.1):

The EWC shall be established at the level of the Silgan White Cap GmbH Central Management and shall have its place of business in Hannover, Germany. It shall be composed of employees of the undertaking who have been elected or appointed from their number by the employees’ representatives or, in the absence thereof, by the entire body of employees in accordance with national legislation or practice. Men and women should, as far as possible, be represented on the EWC in proportion to their numbers.