Joint ETF – UNI Europa Statement
Amazon has a European Works Council, despite management
Yesterday, the Amazon management and employee representatives of different European countries agreed on the establishment of a European Works Council. This council, with workers and employer representatives, will be informed and consulted on transnational company issues.
The European Works Council will meet on a regular basis, bringing together 35 representatives from all over Europe (including the UK). At the same time, the company imposed severe restrictions on the scope of transational consultations, confidential data and expert advice at the meetings. Questions also arise on the sudden decision of the Amazon management to move the jurisdiction from Luxembourg to Ireland which is known for its flawed labour law.
The agreement is a small step forward for Amazon employees in Europe, yet the step has been taken largely despite, and not thanks to, Amazon’s management.
Illustratively, it took over four years of long and often difficult negotiations to agree on how the European Works Council should function. It was mostly through the excellent work of the union representatives of the Special Negotiation Body that the negotiations continued and were brought to a compromise.
Livia Spera, ETF General Secretary, said: “Our transport unions have been working hard to unionise, represent and bargain for those working within Amazon and its supply chain. We see this agreement as the first step to ensure workers participation, provided the management lives up to the commitments and obligations of the agreement. “
Mathias Bolton, Head of UNI Global Commerce, added: “We will see closely to it that Amazon respects what is agreed. At the same time, we call on the Amazon management to engage in proper collective bargaining with trade unions. Just as the right to information and consultation, the workers have a fundamental right to organize and bargain collectively, Amazon should respect that”
Gianpaolo Meloni, Italian Amazon worker and president of the employee negotiation group, said: “It was a hard job and there were often times that the negotiation felt stuck. But thanks to the expert trade union advice that we got, we managed to bring the negotiation to a close.”
European Works Councils are responsible for information and consultation and have little real power to make their wishes heard, let alone respected. It is therefore by no means a replacement for proper collective bargaining, a fundamental right that is still being denied to most of the Amazon workers in Europe.