Sofidel’s repeated refusal to establish a EWC to be challenged at Italian labour court on February 6

Thursday 30 January 2020

An Italian labour court will hear on February 6 the case presented by the Italian unions Fistel-CISL and SLC-CGIL against Sofidel for the company’s repeated refusal to establish a European Works Council.

The unions of the tissue sector in Italy, together with UNI Europa, started the process of establishing a EWC in Sofidel in 2015. For years, Sofidel has ignored its obligations regarding the European directive and its transposition into Italian law, as well as the numerous calls that the company’s workers and their trade unions have made for the company to sit down to negotiate. It’s only now, after 5 years, that the company agrees to have an SNB meeting by video-conference, to avoid an unfavourable decision from the court.

Transnational workers’ representative bodies are fundamental to balancing corporate profits and workers’ rights in a global environment, where decision-making centres transcend national borders.

This is recognised by Directive 2009/38/EC, which is the result of years of democratic exchange in the European Union and is built on the experience of hundreds of companies that have developed their European Works Councils under this directive.

But the directive has major shortcomings. The lack of homogeneity in the arbitration courts, the lack of clarity in the rules on fundamental concepts or the absence of sanctions, have allowed many companies, which are hostile to the organisation of workers, to ignore the opinions of EWCs, to hide information, to avoid information and consultation processes, to extort workers’ representatives with confidentiality, to deprive workers’ representatives of interpretation and other means or, as in the case of Sofidel, to avoid by all means the mere establishment of the EWC.

The mere proposal to set up an employees’ representative body by video conference is a disregard for the most basic foundations of social dialogue.

It is an insult not only to the workers, but to the very democratic construction of our European values, which has established the need to promote a fluid dialogue between company management and workers’ representatives in order to give a social dimension to company decisions wherever they are made, which is increasingly the case at international level. It also leads to a situation of unfair competition with regards to other companies in the sector that do comply with the requirements of the European directive on information and consultation at transnational level.

Follow our campaign to tell Sofidel to #RespectWorkersRights and that #DemocracyAtWork is fundamental for building a Social Europe, consistent with the values of freedom, democracy and social justice which are at the very core of the European Union.

Read here the latest letter we sent to Sofidel.

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